Why is it necessary?
Giving birth is an amazing, exhausting experience. Whether you are a c-section, natural birth, medicated vaginal birth or any other kind of birth mama, your body undergoes a lot when you have that baby. Muscles are hard at work, skin can be wounded, there are possibly stitches in very sensitive areas. Some pain and inflammation are a given.
There are many ways doctors, nurses and midwives will tell you to deal with those issues postpartum. I know with my first baby, I was given a bottle of Dermaplast and told to take sitz baths and use witch hazel. I was stitched up and in pain for a while. None of those options really helped me, they just usually simply delayed the inevitable pain and tenderness.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third baby last year that I first heard of the postpartum herbal bath. My first two daughters were born in a hospital setting where I was given strict instructions to not bathe for the first six weeks (showers only).
Hearing about the herbal bath was the best news I had heard all pregnancy. I love my bath time. I love to soak in the warm water and decompress. It helps my achy muscles and anything else that may be bothering me.
My midwives carried some of this magic herb bath in their shop at the birth center and I was curiously asking them all about it. They explained that it had herbs that helped heal and repair the skin and that most new moms took this bath within a couple hours of the birth with their baby. I was completely intrigued and immediately started my research. I already create my own natural body products at home, so of course, this was right up my alley.
What’s in it?
Many postpartum herbal baths I could find had different ingredients, but a few main herbs were in all of them. Calendula and lavender seemed to be a common theme. I knew of a few other herbs, however, that I used in my homemade salves that would likely be great additions.
Yarrow has been used for centuries to stop bleeding and help cramping and bloating. Perfect, right? Calendula flowers are used to reduce pain and swelling and to treat inflammation and even hemorrhoids (if you happen to be one of the many lucky mamas to be gifted with those during pregnancy and childbirth). Lavender flowers help aid in circulation and also in aromatherapy to improve mental well-being and promote relaxation. Plantain leaf is used to decrease pain and swelling, red raspberry leaf has been used for purification of skin and blood and for skin rash. Lastly, Epsom salt (magnesium) can speed up wound healing, treat skin infections, reduce inflammation, help muscle and nerve function, flush toxins and relieve pain and muscle cramps.
Many of these herbs can be found online from different retailers. I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. It’s important to ensure that your source is providing high quality and organic herbs whenever possible. You can even grow many of these in your own yard! Yarrow seeds are easy to find and once you spread them, they grow year after year, usually in the spring for about a month.
DIY Postpartum Herbal Bath
1/2 cup organic yarrow flowers
1/2 cup organic calendula flowers
1/4 cup organic lavender flowers
1/2 cup Epsom salt
2 tablespoons organic plantain leaf
2 tablespoons organic red raspberry leaf
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and scoop into a gallon-size Ziploc bag or large mason jar for storage.
Once you’re ready to use it, have your significant other, midwife or other helpful family member place 1 cup of the herbs to 2 quarts of boiling water and let steep, covered for 20 minutes. Strain the herbs and pour the “tea” into a nearly full bath and soak (with your baby) for as long as you want.
You can also put some of the “tea” into a peri bottle to use after each time you use the bathroom for a nice healing rinse.
My personal experience with my herbal bath was amazing! Not only did I heal more quickly than any other birth (baby girl #3 was my largest clocking in at 8lbs, 12oz), but her cord fell off in record time, on its own, with no issues. I highly recommend it and even made a ton of extra and put it in a large glass mason jar to have around anytime I need it. I’m still using it well into my 8th month postpartum.