Herbal sitz baths are a wonderful way to heal and soothe the vaginal area after birth. The herbs themselves help the tissues recover faster allowing mom to be back to normal more quickly.
For those with Cesarean births, the sitz bath herbs can be used as an herbal wash or compress on the incision site after 4-6 weeks have passed.
When you are ready for your sitz bath:
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil
Pour 1 pint sized jar of blended herbs into a ½ gallon mason jar
Cover the herbs w/ boiling water
Cover your jar and allow to infuse for 1 hour.
Strain the infusion and compost the plant material.
If needed, gently rewarm the infusion
Pour into a stiz-bath or add to several inches of water in a traditional tub
Soak the perineum for 15-20 minutes, 2-4 times a day
Compresses & Sitz Pads Compress: The sitz infusion may be warmed and added to a clean cotton cloth and used as a compress on the perineum.
This promotes good circulation, oxygenation and enhances healing.
Prepare the sitz infusion by combining ½ a jar of sitz bath blend with one quart of boiling water.
Cover and allow it to infuse for 1-2 hours
Strain and add 1 teaspoon of sea salt to the strained infusion.
Lay out a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and 6-12 disposable postpartum pads
Pour infusion over pads slowly, allowing the, to soak up as much infusion as possible.
Freeze them. Because of the sea salt they will only freeze to a semi-solid state
Use postpartum for swelling and any perineal tears.
Mothers can also add the infusion to their peri-bottles
The concept of doing vaginal steams is still a very active practice in cultures across the world that have retained their traditional wise woman healing ways.
In Malaysia a v-steam is an important component of the postnatal body treatment and given before the oil massage as the steam heats a mama’s body both internally and externally, softening her body and opening her pores for the massage to be even more effective.
In many traditions in Mayan and other Central American traditions Vaginal steaming is used as a way to treat various uterine issues. In Spanish it is called ‘bajos’ and is one of the first thing traditional healers call on when any sort of vaginal or uterine issues arises.
V-steams (also sometimes called yoni steams) bring heat to the womb. The use of specific herbs work in combination with each other to nourish, tone, heal, bring in fresh oxygenated blood, promote cleansing, and shrink the swollen vaginal and uterine tissues after pregnancy and childbirth. The moist heat opens the pores of the tissues it comes into contact with. The water vapor carries the medicinal benefits of the plants, including volatile oils. This is absorbed into the tissues and enters the bloodstream, having a direct healing affect on the reproductive system as vaginal tissue is one of the most absorbent of the entire female body.
A mama sits over a specially designed box that is placed over a large pot of hot water; herbs are added to the water which causes herbal steam to rise up into the vaginal area, bringing with it all the healing properties of the herbs.
V-Steams are used postpartum primarily as a uterine lavage to ensure that all fluids after childbirth are being dispelled and are flowing as they are meant to be. It has the added benefit of introducing heat directly into the womb space via the vagina. In many traditions of holistic midwifery care a vaginal steam is given within the first 9 days after childbirth. Some do it immediately, some at day 3, some day 6 and some day 9. Others wait until 6 weeks postpartum. Mayan tradition often does it on day 9 as the Mayan works with the number 9 as a sacred number. Up to 3x within the first 9 days. This is a traditional tool for Well Woman Care! This means that it should only be used postpartum after a birth that falls in the range of ‘normal’ and qualifies for well woman care. For Fertility Vaginal steams are a wonderful way to maintain a healthy yoni. They are great if one of the challenges is implantation because the steam helps make the lining of the womb supple and hospitable. This is best done a week before your period— so knowing your cycle through regular charting is an important practical tool. You can do it 1-3 times during that week and continue each month until your bleeding is cramp free and pink/ bright red rather than dark or clotty. Benefits of V-steams After Childbirth • Helps softens and melts blood clots in the lochia for easy passing • Reduces uterus swelling • Reduces excessive vaginal discharge • Eliminates foul odor • Enhances the healing of tears and cuts in the vaginal area • Helps tighten the pelvic floor muscles • Reduces the possibility of vaginal infection and itchiness • Helps cleanse and deodorize vaginal area (the vagina is great at self cleaning, when we say that it helps cleanse we mean that it supports the overall system giving it strength to do its job well!) What about after a cesarean? A mother should wait at least 6-8 weeks after a cesarean to have a vaginal steam. This is because it is generally risky to introduce that amount of heat to an area that had a recent incision and is healing in a different way. A mother who has had a cesarean birth can still benefit from a vaginal steam, she will just have to wait a bit longer to reep the benefits. For both the mothers and the mother roasters safety the postpartum mother may want to get the go ahead from her care provider before receiving the steam. **Caution** Do not use essential oils in the Vsteam because they may burn the delicate tissues of the perineum area. Do not steam the perineum area if: If there is hemorrhage If there are open wounds, such as a tear, or stitches as this could cause pain and swelling If the woman has an IUD If there is the existence of a fever, uterine infection, vaginal sores or blisters Herbs for Postpartum V-steams The herbs used in after birth v-steams are a blend of herbs that have various healing qualities known to support feminine health! All herbs used for vaginal steaming are chosen for their aromatics. It is the volatile oil along with the steam itself that is carried up into the vaginal tissues to do its work. Our top 3 herbs for v-steams Oregano: Used for its antiseptic, stimulating and strengthening qualities Basil: Increases blood circulation, anti-biotic properties, relieves headaches Marigold Petals: Uterine and hormonal tonic (note* for the vaginal steam purposes you want the aromatic variety of marigold, not calendula) Other great herbs for v-steams Rosemary: Increases blood circulation to the reproductive organs, anti septic Motherwort: Traditionally used specifically for fibroids and polyps Lavender: Nourishes and relaxes the nervous system. It serves as an antispasmodic and antiseptic the perennial tissues Mugwort: Traditional Korean/Chines her used for blood circulation and to awaken the Qi Rose Petals: Gentle astringent to the tissue, fragrant Plantain Leaf: Astringent, gentle antifungal, repairs internal tissues/organs, antiinflammatory Chamomile: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, + anti-spasmodic Partridge Berry: Classic uterine tonic Thyme: Is typically warm, anti fungal, + antioxidant Yarrow: Uterine tonic, pelvic circulatory, anti spasmodic The Process 1. Fill a rice cooker 2/3 the way full, close the cover and turn on 2. When it is boiling add 1-2 cups of the dried herb mix into 3. the rice cooker with water and let boil for 10 minutes, then turn off and let mixture steep covered for 10min. 4. Place rice cooker with herbs in the yoni sauna/chair 6. Sit on the sauna to begin the yoni steam. You should sit on the steam for 15-20 minutes. 7. Wrap several large cloths or blankets around yourself, one for the bottom half of the body and one for the top around the shoulders. Wrap from the waistdown over the steam to hold in the heat. 8. Make sure that your feet are covered in socks or you could even use a flax seed back slightly warmed to keep your feet warm during the steam. NOTE: Each person’s tolerance to heat will be different. If you feel the steam is too hot, un-wrap the blanket and let out steam until the level of heat is comfortable and then re-wrap yourself. You can do this as many times as you likes. Usually unwrapping for a count of 10 seconds is enough to lower the amount of steam to a comfortable level. 9. After 15-20 min. when you are done you should immediately lie down and wrap yourself in a warm dry blanket for 20min to an hour to allow the steam and the heat to continue its work. 10. At the end of the steam offer the herbs back to the earth. Place in compost or in Garden. *Have pads on hand for after steam. ∗Be sure to bring awareness to your womb space as you are steaming. You can invite your womb to be strengthened and nourished while giving your womb permission to release anything that is not serving her. ∗Due to the blood being stimulated, your face may become red and you may sweat. This is normal. ∗Make sure there is a cup of water or herbal tea for you to drink. *After the steam, you will need to lie down for approximately 20 min to an hour. Your uterus will be working in response to the steam, so you should allow yourself time to rest and allow it to do its job. *Mothers may notice some uterine cramping and/or increase in discharge directly after steaming. In extreme cases it can even smell foul or mother can have dark syrupy discharge or even small clots. Some woman who have gone through menopause, may even release old blood after a steam! From the Sacred Postpartum & Sacred Fertility programs