Boiling hot or icy cold bath?

FROM turning weepy in the middle of a supermarket (courtesy supercharged hormones) to having mugs of hot water splashed at their sore and bruised parts right after delivery, first-time mothers have to grin and bear a great many things.

But when beliefs and customs range from the bizarre to the scientific, how do we make the best choice for both mother and baby?

Take, for instance, the practice of splashing hot mugs of water at a woman’s labia and perineum right after delivery. It is common enough across the country, for it is widely believed that the hot water will help

*heal the wounds from birthing,

*bring relief to the soreness in the area and

*shrink the uterus

But the golden rule when it comes to skin is to do what is tolerated by it. This is why a patch of skin is checked for allergies or any other adverse reaction before carrying out an entire procedure, be it the application of a BB cream or waxing strips.

Boiling water can scald the skin, especially that of a woman’s who has just birthed a baby. Continual bouts of hot water could also open sutures performed to close an episiotomy (an incision made to increase clearance for birthing).

Very hot (40-50°C) water is never good on any skin, especially one that has recently undergone the wear and tear of birthing and is likely to be fragile and sore.

Unfortunately, a lot of crude practices surround postpartum and child care in our country. We would do well to shed some of them. Don’t worry about your tummy; it will go in once the uterus begins to shrink with the initiation of breast feeding.

Indulge in baths set at a temperature that brings relief to your aching back, pelvic and lower abdomen area. Tipping ice cubes into warm baths and lying in them for a while also bring relief to the perineum stretch.


One of the effective ways to bring relief to the perineum, say doctors, is to indulge in a sitz bath (the German root of this word translates to a bath in which one sits). Fill your bath tub with warm water. Sit in it for a couple of minutes. If required, you could switch to a cold bath. Some people find more relief in such an alternating procedure. Sitz baths relieve discomfort or pain in the lower body caused by episiotomy, haemorrhoids, infections of the bladder, vagina or prostate. Ice cubes, vinegar, baking soda or plain rock salt can be added to such baths.

Next issue: To drink up or not?