What is a Postpartum Herbal Bath?
By now I'm sure you've seen those gorgeous photos of mom and baby enjoying an herbal bath following delivery and, if you're like me, you've felt your ovaries explode at the cuteness overload.
In addition to providing a great photo op, the postpartum herbal bath is a great opportunity for bonding and it has healing and soothing properties for both mom and baby.
Many birth centers in our area, and a few hospitals, offer an herbal bath for any of their patients that would like one. Of course, there are certain health conditions that make taking a bath right away unsafe, so be sure to consult with your care provider about any questions you may have and for a list of contraindications.
Photo Credit: InHisHands.com
When do we take the herbal bath?
As labor draws to an end, the herbs will be put on the stove or in a crockpot to steep. Once baby is here and has had a chance to breastfeed, usually about an hour or so postpartum, the tub is filled and the brew is added to the bath. Mom and baby can then get in and enjoy a nice, warm bath. Baby usually calms right away and I've even seen a few babies go right to sleep! If you're comfortable, make it a family affair and invite dad and siblings into the tub as well- it's a great way for the whole family to bond and meet the newest addition. And, for moms who've had a c-section, Dad can get in the tub with baby! A warm bath with time to love on baby- sign me up, please!
How does it work and what exactly does it do?
I consulted my trusty copy of Susan Weed's Herbal for the Childbearing Year and my newest find, Indian Herbalogy of North America by Alma Hutchens for more information on each ingredient.
Comfrey Leaf: soothes and heals, has astringent properties, helps keep the tissues flexible and reduces itching- great for mom and baby, alike.
Lavender Flower: in addition to its calming nature, lavender also has powerful healing properties. It adds a nice smell to the herbal bath and promotes healing at the same time.
Shepherd's Purse: releases its medicinal factors very easily in water which makes it an excellent addition to an herbal bath; is a powerful blood coagulant and vasoconstrictor.
Uva Ursi Leaf: has astringent, antibacterial and antiseptic properties and is a powerful diuretic; great for reducing swelling and minimizing hemorrhoids.
Plantain Leaf: contains healing properties and helps to reduce pain and itching.
Red Raspberry Leaf: uterine tonic, helps uterus contract and can reduce postpartum bleeding
Yarrow Flower: astringent properties, helps to soothe achiness and help tighten veins- another ideal ingredient for reducing swelling and treating hemorrhoids.
Sea Salt: helps to balance electrolytes, is mineral-rich and helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing.