Post Partum Sitz Bath And Perineum Healing Herbs

Before each of my daughters births I put together herbs for a sitz bath, which after the birth, I was able to bath myself and help with the post birth healing.

The term sitz bath comes from the German word Sitzbad,meaning a bath (Bad) in which one sits (sitzen). A sitz bath is technically a hip-bath, that is, a bath in which a person sits covered with water up to the hips, but I just had a proper bath!

After birth there’s a period of healing required for the perineum, and one of the recommendations is to keep a squeeze-bottle of water by the toilet to spray on when you need to urinate, which can burn somewhat whether you have stitches or not.

Before the birth, I recommend from my own experience that you make up two ‘portions’ of herbs. One you can tie up in a muslin for your bath, and the other you pop directly into a two liter soft drink bottle or similar. You also need a squeeze bottle so that you can pour from the large bottle into the smaller one after each trip to the loo, ready for the next one.

Sitz Bath HerbsThe idea of the herbs are to be soothing and healing, but also to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Make up the ingredients below, and keep a clove of garlic with it. I don’t add the garlic before hand as garlic can go off and you don’t want old garlic in your sitz bath. (My second daughter was born at 42+5, so my garlic would have been quite rotten, having been prepared from 35 weeks!)

The ingredients are quite flexible. Everything you add will have benefits, but if you don’t have it, can’t find it or don’t like it, you don’t have to use it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs Rosemary– Heals perineal tears, soothing, relieves muscle pain and exhaustion
  • 2 tbs Yarrow – Heals perineal tears, soothing. Yarrow intensifies the medicinal action of other herbs taken with it, and helps with pain, bleeding/clotting and inflammation.
  • 2 tbs Marigold/Calendula – Cooling, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory
  • 2 tbs Chamomile – cooling, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Chamomile contains spiroether, a very strong antispasmodic agent that relaxes aching, tense muscles
  • 2 tbs Lavender – soothes swollen vaginal tissue, reduces pain, smells amazing, helps with relaxation.
  • 2 tbs Rose petals -Rose petals are astringent and can be used as a skin wash to staunch bleeding from scrapes and cuts. Rose petals a sitz bath into a luxurious spa treatment for the body and spirit as the smell of rose petals creates a feeling of well being and mild euphoria.
  • 2 tbs SEA Salt – antiseptic, helps keep perineum clean and germ free
  • 2 cloves Garlic – antiseptic, helps keep perineum clean and germ free.

Mix together, everything except the garlic. Split into two piles. Place the first in a muslin, and tie off with a string. This will go into the bath after the birth.

The second can go into a container. This will go straight into your perineum mix.

After baby is born, add some garlic to your bottle, and top off with boiling water. Leave to draw, and leave as is for up to three days. Pour water from the big bottle to the small squirty bottle. The garlic smell will become stronger and the liquid may become darker as the herbs infuse.

Squirt onto the perineum while urinating to soothe the burn.

*p.s if you had stitches, don’t soak in the bath more than once a day.

*p.p.s if you purchase from any of those links, I will earn 5% on your purchase price, but you wont pay any more.

Please note I am NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL or HERBALIST. This is the recipe I followed and the way I used the herbs with my two daughters.

 

Mama’s Guide To Gentle Birth

I’m a mother to two little girls. I’ve had two home water births, and attended the birth of one baby at home, and paced the halls of the hospital outside the theatre of a c-section like an expectant father. That is my hands on experience with childbirth. I am not trained as a midwife, not a registered Doula. I am just a mother. I do not get paid to make decisions over someone else’s birth or child. No, I’m just a mother, who has to live with the consequences of every decision I make for the birth of my babies, and for the rest of their lives. And that is a powerful motivator. I can’t think of a stronger reason to be confident in my decisions for the birthing and the raising of my babies.

So is this a disclaimer? No. It’s a challenge. It’s me saying don’t just take anyone’s word for anything. Do your own research, make your own decisions. Where, how, with whom and when you birth your babies may be the biggest life changing decision you’ll ever make.

So why should you listen to me? Well, you shouldn’t. My wish for you is that as you read more and learn more, you’ll find questions you didn’t know you needed to ask, and then you’ll find the answers that work for you in your situation.

A midwife once told me that the most beautiful births she’d attended were those of mothers who were informed about birth. Take responsibility for the birth of your child. No one else in the whole world will be as affected by that day as you will, whether you’re immediately aware of it or not.

My Story

We conceived Ameli in December 2008 and I knew I was pregnant before the first test showed a positive result. I tested, because I suspected. I just didn’t feel well. At 5 weeks pregnant, after a scan for spotting, I was sent home to miscarry in peace. For 18 weeks, I spotted, waiting to lose my child, and debilitated by a horrible condition: Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I threw up 20 times a day, and lost a ton of weight. My whole life was turned upside down by this sickness. I visited my doctor a number of times, and each time he told me ‘pregnant women get sick’ and ‘deal with it’.

It was my sincere doubt that this could be ‘normal’ that led me to investigating pregnancy and child birth. A colleague asked me if I was planning a home birth, and it was the first time I’d even heard that was possible. I began investigating Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and during the hours of not wanting to move for sickness, I began reading, reading, reading. I read about homebirth, about freebirth, and about waterbirth, and knew it was what I wanted.

I had an amazing, inspiring, incredible, peaceful, beautiful home water birth on the 4th of October 2009. I had my first real contraction a full 48 hours before my daughter was born into my waiting hands, but it was the most transformative experience of my life. Not just having the baby, but how I had the baby change everything about me. It gave me a faith, belief and confidence in myself and my ability, and a passionate admiration for she that is woman.

Two and a half years later, after another horrendous pregnancy, much worse than the first, I gave birth to Aviya, my second little girl. Her birth was very different. It was fast, powerful, when I think of it, I think of a thunderstorm crashing waves onto the shore. She was ‘late’ by the medical profession’s definition, arriving in a hurry at 42 weeks and 5 days.

Both of these births have led me to a deeper understanding of myself, yes, but of women in general, and of the gift of womanhood. If the information I share with you today – none of which you couldn’t have found for yourself, had you been looking – can take you just one step in the direction of experiencing the power of bringing life into the world in a way that empowers you, whatever your method, place or time of giving birth, then I will be happy.

Giving birth is not just about having a healthy, happy baby. Ask a mother who had a traumatic experience, or a painful experience, or endured humiliation, or felt vulnerable or even neglected, ignored or abused, and ask a mother who has suffered depression, shock or grief over her birth experience, and she will not tell you that nothing else matters. Yes, her beautiful baby will be the highlight, and the prize, but if that can be achieved through beauty and power, then all the better. And like with anything else in life, your chances of success are hugely increased by preparation.

As an athlete prepares for a race, so you need to prepare yourself mentally for giving birth. I’m Not Trying For A Homebirth, I’m Having One is about just that. While I was planning for a homebirth and wrote it so, you can apply the principles to any birth plan.

In any business proposal, you have to write a plan. There’s no difference in birth plans. Writing a Birthplan: The Where, The Who And The Documentation. A birth plan doesn’t guarantee you a specific list of demands, but it gives you something to focus on and to work through those things you didn’t know you needed to know. Here’s some advice on How To Write A Birth Plan And Why You Should.

A birthplan will help you think about things such as Pushing During Childbirth – Should it be Spontaneous or Directed, and whether your Newborn Needs Additional Vitamin K or not.

Having a baby may be the most natural thing in the world, but we’re not the natural people we once were. We don’t do much manual labour anymore, so our babies move into the ‘wrong’ position for birth, we don’t have the physical stamina we used to, so birth takes more out of us. It may be something we’ve done for generations, but we’ve not done it the way we do it nowadays for very long, so don’t miss out on Preparing for a natural childbirth.

The first thing people think of when they think of birth is pain. This is so unfortunate and is a gift handed down to us by generally male interference in the birth process, and media. Birth does not have to equate pain. And where there is pain, there are also Pain Relief Methods In Childbirth.

People also have a mental image of a woman lying on her back in bed. I’ve had two sitting up in a pool births, and when I think of birth, I still think of the Hollywood version of sweaty screaming with your legs in the air. But that’s not real life. There are many different Positions For Labour And Childbirth and becoming familiar with them will make a huge difference to your labour particularly, but also the birth – work with gravity, rather than against it.

Where you give birth is really important. If you go to a hospital with a very high surgical birth rate, you are very unlikely to find the support that you need for a vaginal birth. If you want a homebirth, you sometimes have to fight for it. This is important stuff. You don’t buy a camera off the cheapest bloke on the internet. You don’t buy high value items off an eBay seller with no feedback rating. Why have a baby with no research into the ‘seller’? Natural homebirth vs. Natural hospital birth

If you’re having a homebirth, here’s list of Things To Prepare For A Homebirth and a Laobur Plan or Checklist for your homebirth.

Who you have with you is equally important. I strongly recommend a Doula, if you are able as she is there to look after you, not your baby. The word ‘doula’ means ‘servant girl’. While a trained Doula is amazing, a friend who has been there and if possible has had the kind of birth you want to have is perfectly sufficient. Just as you wouldn’t take financial advice from a bankrupt friend, don’t take birth advice from someone whose ideals are different to yours, especially not at the time you are most vulnerable! The Doula Path

What Does The Birth Partner DO At A Birth? Well, that differs from person to person, but here are some thoughts. One of the things they or your Doula could do is help administer Herbs for use in Childbirth so that, with any luck, you can minimise your need for chemical drugs.

Fear is a big problem in birth, because your Adrenaline ‘over rides’ your feel good hormones, causing labour to stall and problems to arise. For me, I Had A Perfect Birth – Now I’m Scared Of Trying Again is about how I had a perfect birth the first time round, and I was really scared of it all going wrong the second time. Some women fear how having something ‘the size of a watermelon coming out something so small’ will affect their sex lives later. Here’s an honest look at Natural Childbirth: Changes In Sex Life.

Concern over how an older sibling may react can impact on not only the birth, but when you go into labour too. Stress can prevent the body from letting go for long enough to go into labour. Here’s a list of Books To Prepare Children For Childbirth, Homebirth Or Waterbirth. There’s also a list of Great Youtube Birth Videos For Children and Activity Pack Ideas For Older Siblings At A Birth

But, what if it’s too late, and it’s all gone wrong? Rebirthing: (For Emotional Healing And Breastfeeding Reintroduction) might be what you need to recreate the birth bond between mother and baby.

No two births are ever the same, and one of the biggest surprises babout birth and children is how different and unpredictable both can be, but even if nothing goes to plan, planning for the birth that suits you can only ever stand you in good stead.

 

Embracing Our Birth Stories

Ameli’s birth was the most amazing birth experience I could ever have dreamt of. As a first timer with no real experience and nothing but book knowledge, the 48-hour labour and peaceful birth was magical, and an experience that shaped my future, as every birth does.

Read more: Embracing Our Birth Stories

A Birth Story

Last week I had the most amazing opportunity to assist a friend of mine in the birth of her second son. I was really only meant to be there to keep her first born occupied, but it turned into an absolutely amazing and powerful experience for me too. It was rather incredible, being on the other side of birth, this time. Herewith Nadia’s story, as told by her:

Read more: A Birth Story

13 March 2012 – A Good Day For A Birthday?

So many of my friends and family are far away and won’t be able to share in this baby’s birth with us. I’m not sure how much I’ll update here today, or how much will need to be edited or spell checked later. I know when it gets to the thick of it, I’ll be focused inwards, and not sharing what’s going on… but in the meantime, writing is my therapy. It keeps me calm, and focused. Lucky you, eh? 😉

Last night – I went to an NCT committee meeting after my acupressure, and felt strengthening random contractions, but nothing worth writing home about. Arrived home, did some work, and wondered if Tuesday might be the day.

3:45 am – I got out of bed because I was moaning through contractions and starting to disturb Ameli’s sleep.  I couldn’t sleep anymore, so went downstairs to do figure of 8’s on my birth ball. I got out the TENS machine and strapped myself up. I don’t remember the early contractions with Ameli being this intense.

First Contractons

5:20 something am – Fall asleep, contractions die down, waking about every half hour with a strong contraction.

8:30am – Ameli comes downstairs wanting milk. Breastfeeding stimulates contractions, definitely! We go about our morning, Ameli gets ready for nursery, I wash my hair – hanging upside down mid contraction is not fun. Thank heavens for the TENS machine.

9:30 am- My mother takes Ameli to nursery. I sit on the sofa getting some work done. Every time I stand up I have contractions. Have some things to finish before having a baby. Also need to put new Moses basket together. It arrived this morning. Good timing! These contractions are more like the second day of contractions with Ameli were. It’s definitely going faster.

10:15 am – Realise neither of my midwives are on call today. Need to contact someone else, but I’ve never met her.

10:51 am – Decide to publish this live on blog because I’m having to chat in too many groups and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and what not. Will update here till I get in the pool. Then probably Twitter if anything.

11:20 am – Birthpool is up. Martin’s gone to fetch Ameli at nursery. Hypnobirthing CD on in background. Excitement currently coursing through my bones. Feeling so peaceful and happy.

12:52 – Updating to say there are no updates. Contractions have settled in at about 10 minutes apart for now. Ameli’s home from nursery and having a nap. My unofficial Doula is on standby. Midwife I’ve never spoken to knew who I am and was elated to hear I’m contracting, which was very sweet. No news for now is… well, no news!

15:00 – Contractions intense, but still about 10 minutes apart. Waiting for Ameli to wake so we can bake the birthday cake for the baby.

15:30 – Ameli awake, heading into the kitchen to do our cake in a jar for baby’s birthday. I have a contraction pretty much every time I stand up, so this should get things going. Have asked DH to start filling the pool. They’re all saying it’s too early. I’m not so sure it is.

Pushing During Childbirth – Spontaneous Or Directed?

Despite having had an amazing home water birth with my first child, and having watched a few feature film lengths of birthing videos on youtube and around the web, whenever I think of childbirth, I still have the mental image of legs up in stirrups and nurses and doctors and pale looking fathers urging a screaming mother to ‘push, push,push!’ Such is the level of our indoctrination by TV, really!

The reality can and should be much different though. For a start, when a woman has sensation in her lower body, (i.e. hasn’t had strong pain medications) she knows all too well when to push. In fact, it’s physically impossible not to push. Your body just does it and there’s no stopping it.  The picture you see on TV is what happens when the mother-to-be has had an epidural and can’t feel the natural urges to push.  You then have a nurse, midwife or doctor looking at a screen to monitor when the contractions have started, and telling the mother to push.Read more: Pushing During Childbirth – Spontaneous Or Directed?

Great YouTube Birth Videos For Children

Preparing for a homebirth is one thing, but preparing your older child for a homebirth has been a whole different adventure. I think how much you’re able to prepare them depends massively on the child’s age, and while I have no evidence of this, I suspect the younger they are, the more ‘easily’ they’ll just ‘go with it’.

We’ve been reading books and practicing mooing and making groany noises together so that Ameli knows what mama might do when the baby comes. With her birth there was no crying or screaming, it was actually very calm and gentle. I’m hoping for the same again this time.

As with any birth, our preparation will only take us so far, then it’s up to nature and a little bit of luck to take you the rest of the way. It’s no different with preparing a child for a birth, whether it’s a home birth or hospital birth. Having never been through it before, we have no idea how Ameli will react, whether she’ll be in any way interested, or will in fact even be awake!

But on the hope that she’ll be there and understand what’s going on, we’ve been watching birth videos together, for preparation.

Below are the best we’ve found. I’ve  specifically chosen videos that aren’t overly graphic, and are relatively short – while the lead up and pregnancy pictures and all that make for a beautiful dedication, they don’t really captivate a two year old! I’ve also gone for gentle and calm births. There were some amazing ones with lots of screaming. She found them disconcerting, and I didn’t feel they were contributing to the positive preparation we were  hoping for.

Waterbirths:

This is an unassisted birth at home in the bath. Mama doesn’t make a sound the whole way through!


Another in the bath at home. Another really quiet mama! Birth happens about a minute in.


Here the mother labours in a birthpool and it is probably closer to our setup. Mama rocks up and down in the pool while holding her belly through the contractions and there’s some heavy breathing. This is useful for explaining the way you’ll be breathing (i.e. golden thread breathing) and to ‘practice’ it together with your child/ren.  (For the record, I don’t think her breathing would be ideal for me – it’s too panty, but it obviously worked for her.)


Land births:

While we’re not planning a land birth, there’s no harm in preparing Ameli for it too. Also, they’re a bit for explanatory of where the baby comes from, since they show a little more. These are still not very graphic.

Here mama labours on all fours and has gives birth around the 2 minute mark


Quite explicit and straight on, but I still thought this one was tastefully done in a way that was child friendly to watch too.


Older siblings at birth:

Here’s a mix of different births, but with older siblings present. I found these really useful for comparisons. “See how the boy stands next to the pool and doesn’t try to climb in? Ameli mustn’t climb in either when mama’s having the baby.” And so on.

This clip has the nine year old sister aiding in the delivery of the baby, along with the midwife. It’s good though as it shows the baby coming out without actually showing any gory bits.


There’s about a minute of pregnancy pictures here, then a few seconds of labour pictures – birth ball use and so on. This video is good as it involves a bit of groaning and ‘noise’ but nothing ‘violent’ or frightening.  The boy gives his mama cuddles and kisses and generally ‘hangs around’. It’s a beautiful and gentle birth and Ameli copies the lady’s ‘ooh,ooh’s’.


A longer video that has the older brother in the tub with mama for much of the labour. This was a good clip for me to watch too, as I’ve been concerned about being able to focus in with Ameli around, but if this mama can do it, then it obviously can be done! Birth happens around 7 minutes with a realistic amount of panting and groaning and moaning.


Ameli’s birth: 

And of course, no birth viewing session would be complete without the picture slideshow of Ameli’s own birth. This one has the lead up of labour, including the birth ball, gas and air for a while, and labouring in water.  Birth occurs around 2:20.


Things To Prepare For A Homebirth

My lovely midwife gave me a list of things we needed to get ready for our homebirth, and – no surprises here – but I lost it! I’ve been trawling the web looking for the definitive guide on things you need to prepare for a homebirth but ‘definitive’ is so subjective.

I absolutely love how Homebirth.org.uk puts it – “All you really need for a homebirth is a pregnant woman and a home, but sometimes a few other things are handy”.  Isn’t that just my philosophy for birth and parenting?

So what are those ‘handy’ things that you can have ready and waiting for labour? (Ideally in a box or bag so that there’s no running around searching for stuff on the day!)

For the birth:

  • Birth Plan. If you end up with a midwife you’ve not seen before, she’ll need to know your birth plan, so have a copy in your birth box
  • A plastic liner for outside the pool, should you have to climb out to give birth
  • A plastic liner for the sofa/bed for delivering the placenta
  • A towel to cover the plastic – for comfort and to not slide off
  • Towels, sheets or bed wetting sheets to absorb liquid (this is where a waterbirth is so much less fuss)
  • Garbage bags for double bagging trash (although the midwives will probably have human waste bags that go back with them to be incinerated)
  • A tub for the placenta, if you’re saving it, and space in the fridge/freezer
  • Food and snacks
  • Reminder chart for positions in labour and birth
  • Flashlight/torch with batteries
  • Playlist ready and spare batteries
  • If using a birth pool, make sure to do a trial run and to keep all the ‘bits’ together.
    • Hose
    • Pump
    • Sieve
    • Liner
    • Towels for if you are getting in and out of the pool
  • Many women vomit during labour. Have a sick bucket in reach, just in case. No one wants to be cleaning up puke during labour. Also useful for disposal of other body wastes!
  • Hot compress or flannel for perineum if you are birthing outside of water
  • Hand mirror – to see crowning, but also if so midwives can see what’s going on without disturbing your position
  • Ambience enhancers – music, candles, aromatherapy oils. I honestly cannot remember if we lit the candles during my daughter’s birth or not?! I know I needed a fan on me during transition, so am very glad we had one in the house or I might not have been able to stay in the water, despite it being the ‘right’ temperature. The music was wonderful and I sang along to it – quietly- during transition and remember the exact song my daughter was born to.

For the mother-to-be:

  • Your birthing outfit, should you wish to have one
  • Hot water bottle, if that helps you with period pains
  • Maternity Pads
  • Something clean and comfortable to wear after the birth
  • Squeeze bottle filled with a sitz bath solution for after birth urination
  • Postpartum tea (Alfalfa, Penny Royal and Shepherd’s Purse)
  • Sitz bath solution – comfrey, garlic, sea salt, sage, calandula, camomile
  • Old underwear – I have no idea why. Everyone always says this, but I just used my normal underwear last time! Anyone who knows, do share!

For the baby:

  • A receiving blanket – something soft and preferably natural. You don’t want to wipe vernix off the baby, so just have a blanket ready to cover baby, while keeping them skin to skin.
  • A second blanket – especially if you’re having a waterbirth, the first can get wet and will probably have a bit of ‘goo’ on it.
  • Soft sleeper outfit for baby – make sure there are no labels or seams that will be scratchy on the new and very sensitive skin.

If you are packing an ‘in case’ bagwhich I choose not to do – you can put the essentials you need in it:

  • Clean clothes
  • Clean underwear
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Maternity pads
  • Pyjamas
  • Phone charger
  • Cash
  • Baby clothes and receiving blanket
  • Newborn nappies
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Camera, charger and spare memory card

 If you are having older children at the birth:

  • New Baby’s gift for older sibling, if using
  • Activities to keep young children busy during labour
  • If you’ve used any home birth books to prepare your child for the occasion, have them handy so they can be reminded of the pictures and what you’ve discussed.

Print this checklist

Is there anything I’ve left out or forgotten? What did you use or need that’s not on this list?

More posts in this series:

What Does The Birth Partner DO At A Birth?

What does the birthpartner do at the birth?

That’s a really simple question, actually, with a ridiculously difficult answer, because the variables on it depend on the birthing woman, the environment, the birthing assistants, experience, relationship and about as many other things as you can imagine!

*For the purpose of this post, the birth partner is assumed to be the dad, but can be anyone the birthing mother wants or needs!

Never the less, men, especially, often find themselves completely hands off and lost when it comes to the birth of their babies. You only have to watch an episode of One Born Every Minute (which I strongly recommend as a contraceptive, but not as birth instruction!) to see how dads can feel uninvolved and at a loss when it comes to childbirth.Read more: What Does The Birth Partner DO At A Birth?

Pain Relief Methods In Childbirth

(Q4 on the birthplan: During labour, I would like the following pain relief:)

I’m just a few weeks off the birth of my second child right now, and with the birth of my first I was so prepared. I’d spent eight months reading, learning, studying. This time I’ve been less focused on the birth, and more on surviving a relatively rough pregnancy while still being mother to a two year old.  It’s been fun.

But, I’m trying to ‘focus in’ on myself at the moment. I’m trying to set aside all the extras that fill up life, and prepare for the arrival of this baby.Read more: Pain Relief Methods In Childbirth