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When Can You Take a Bath After Having a Baby?

During pregnancy, a bath is a tried and tested remedy for the aches and pains that come with growing a baby. However, once you’ve had the baby, you might find yourself questioning when can you take a bath after having a baby?

Birth is a messy business, whether vaginally or via a c-section. Cleaning yourself afterwards is likely to make you feel more like yourself again; after all, you’ve just been through a life changing event. But if you’re concerned about causing damage to any grazes or stitches you might have, follow the below advice, put any worries to bed and enjoy a warm postpartum bath.

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How soon can you take a bath after having a baby?

The advice on this differs, depending on the healthcare professional you speak to and the type of birth you had.

Generally, you’ll probably be told that bathing isn’t advised for a few weeks after you’ve given birth. Showers are a much better option, especially if you’ve had stitches or you’re looking after a c-section wound.

Key considerations on when to take a bath after giving birth

No two childbirth experiences are the same. You can take advice from friends and family who have given birth but you need to make choices that you feel comfortable with and also listen to postpartum advice from doctors and midwives.

One of the main considerations is the type of birth you had. If you had a vaginal delivery, even if you had to have stitches, you’ll probably feel more like yourself quicker than if you’d had a section. Soaking your sore and swollen bits in some warm water for short periods of time isn’t likely to create any complications in terms of healing.

Speaking from experience, a c-section birth will leave you in pain and discomfort for around three weeks. While a warm bath sounds heavenly, getting in and out of the bath will be difficult and it’s not advised to soak your wound in warm water. It could end up getting infected which is horrendous.

When you leave the hospital, and in the check-ups following your birth, your midwife will be able to advise you on postpartum healing and the type of cleansing you should be doing. Even after you’ve been discharged from midwifery care, you can contact your local triage or community midwives for advice up to four weeks after birth. Or if you feel more comfortable, your GP is usually available to answer any concerns you have.

Bathing after vaginal birth

As a general rule, most healthcare professionals will tell you to wait until between four and six weeks before having a bath after giving birth. But you can make your own judgment on this.

If you’ve had a straightforward vaginal birth, even with a graze or a minor tear, you can have a bath sooner than this as long as you feel comfortable. The complications come in if you’ve had a more serious tear and you needed stitches. This increases the risk of infection when you have a bath.

Just make sure that you either have a plain water bath or use an unscented bubble bath designed for sensitive skin. You could even look into essential oils that aid healing and add a couple of drops into the water to add a natural scent.

Bathing after c-section delivery

I’ve had three sections and I know the discomfort and pain that follows. A long soak in the bath would be heavenly but it’s not advised for several reasons.

Soaking in a bath which, without getting too graphic, will have your blood in it will increase your risk of getting an infection in your wound. I had infections in mine with my second and third c-sections and it delayed my recovery. Introducing moisture to the area is a risk factor as well, especially if you can’t dry it properly. Thrush can grow in that area which is so uncomfortable.

It’s advised to stick for showers until you get the all clear from a healthcare professional which will likely be after your six week GP check.

shower after having a baby

When you can shower after birth

If you’ve had a vaginal delivery in hospital, the midwives will encourage you to have a shower before you leave. This is more to clean yourself of any blood or bodily fluids from birth and make you feel slightly more human before your new adventure begins.

After a c-section, a midwife will likely give you a bed bath and help you change into a nightdress and out of the surgical gown. Your catheter won’t be removed for a while and until it is, you’re bedbound. Before you’re discharged, the midwives will ask you to shower and soak your wound with the shower so the dressing comes off. This allows them to check your wound and make sure everything looks ok.

Once you’re at home, a daily shower should be enough to keep everything clean.

What is a postpartum sitz bath?

A Sitz Bath is a small tub which is designed to fit in the toilet bowl, allowing you to clean and take care of your genitals following birth. If you’ve had vaginal stitches, cleaning the area is vital for healing and reducing infection risk. Using a Sitz bath reduces the need to have a shower a couple of times a day and it takes less time to clean and dry yourself, leaving more time for you to bond with your new baby.

How to use a sitz bath after having a baby

  • You only need to set aside around 20 minutes for a Sitz bath. Fill the tub with some warm water and either some Sitz bath salts or some essential oils, such as witch hazel or lavender.
  • Grab a book or download your favourite podcast and get comfortable, ensuring your perineum and vulva are submerged in the water.
  • Soak for around 10 minutes, this is plenty of time to clean the area.
  • Dry the area thoroughly, whether its gently dabbing with a towel or through air-drying. Don’t roughly rub, this could irritate any grazes or tears and create more discomfort.
  • Do this a couple of times a day or as many times as you feel you need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

bathing after having a baby

Are there any risks associated with taking a bath after having a baby?

The main risk is infection, especially when you have stitches. This is why it’s not recommended too soon after giving birth but as long as you clean the area thoroughly and make sure it’s dry before you get dressed, you can minimise that risk.

Is it safe to take a bath with stitches after birth?

As long as you just bathe in warm water, with nothing added, this should be safe. Again, make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned and dried before getting dressed. The warm water will aid healing and should make your recovery smoother.

What can I do to make my postpartum incision area heal?

Keep it clean and dry. Even simply wiping the area with a clean flannel soaked in warm water, and some essential oil if you feel like it, is enough to clean the area. Then either leave it to air dry or use a hairdryer on a cool setting to fully dry out the area and this will reduce infection risk.

When can I get in the hot tub after giving birth?

Hot tubs can carry so many germs, even if you think it’s clean. Ideally, wait until you’ve been given the all clear at your six week check by your GP before you think about using a hot tub.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully after reading this article, you’re no longer wondering when can you take a bath after having a baby. Just remember to do what you feel comfortable with and as long as the area is kept clean and dry, the infection risk is minimal.