In China, I didn’t have the option of taking a bath. Not unless we stayed at a 5-star hotel. The bathrooms in most places are designed to have a very unusual yet handy feature.
You walk into the bathroom, and the whole thing is a shower! I remember finding this crazy, yet when it came time to clean the bathroom; this was about the handiest thing I could ever think of. I’d just spray it down with cleaner and then turn on the shower to wash it all away.
Some bathrooms in more modern buildings will have a shower enclosure though not always. But very few of them have tub baths. For our babies, we bought small baby tubs to use. The first time we had to bathe our eldest in a big tub when we’d gone on a trip to Shanghai, my husband and I had no idea what to do!
In any event, I got used to missing soaking in the tub. But I know from my friends who had c-sections in the states that they had to wait to get into the tub again. Much like swimming, which I talked about here, there are some things to know about taking a tub bath after your c-section.
When Can I Bathe After a C-Section?
Fun fact: in China, they think you shouldn’t bathe for a month after having a baby. A MONTH. This stems from old traditions though, primarily because, in the olden days, when there was no running water, they had to go outside to bathe. This meant exposing themselves to cold temperatures.
We might like to think this rustic lifestyle was a long time ago, but my husband can tell you stories of how it was growing up in China during the 80s and 90s that sound like the times my grandma said to me about during the Great Depression.
Thankfully, my doctor didn’t tell me I had to stay in bed without showering for a month. She did say I needed to keep my incision covered though.
According to MedlinePlus, it does depend on how you were stitched up. If you have a bandage on, you’ll need to change it once daily or if you get it wet or dirty. You should keep it covered until your doctor says to take it off.
Once you can remove that bandage, you can keep the incision area clean. Ask your doctor what was used to seal you up – stitches, glue, or staples – and how to care for the incision area.
For me, my doctor told me not to get my incision wet, I believe for two weeks. I had to use a special waterproof bandages. Trying to find out how they closed me back up was complicated since my grasp on the language was never excellent, and I don’t think my husband understood what I was trying to ask him.
In any event, the key with showering after your c-section is to check with your doctor first.
Wait, But What About Taking a Tub Bath?
Soaking in a tub, like swimming, is a big NO after your c-section. Not until your doctor gives you the go-ahead. It’s usually three weeks post-surgery, perhaps longer. Much of it has to do with that lochia that I told you about in my other recent posts.
The other part of it is that you might not be able to get in or out of that tub so easily anyway, so you’ll be happy to wait. Especially when you see how painful it is to sit up in a bed, you’ll likely feel discomfort for about 4 to 6 weeks afterward, so taking your time is essential.
Once your doctor says your incision is healing well enough, you can get into the tub, but keep it short the first few times (no more than 10 minutes) and use lukewarm water only. Don’t add bath oils or bubbles that can irritate your incision.
Can I Use Epsom Salts?
Epsom salts are minerals composed of magnesium sulfate. They have many healing benefits and are often used in beauty and health applications.
In fact, many women that deliver vaginally often take what’s known as sitz baths. These can be very healing for the general area, especially if hemorrhoids appear.
You can also use Epsom salts in your bath if and only if your doctor has told you it’s now ok for you to take a bath. If you are experiencing pain from hemorrhoids before you’ve been granted the all-clear for baths, you can do a sitz bath, so you’re not submerging your incision.
Should you ever be concerned about anything regarding a tub bath after your c-section, ask your doctor. These are merely general guidelines to help give you an idea of what to expect.
Bottom Line on Baths After C-Section
You might miss your tub soaking sessions, but give it time for you to heal. Then you can enjoy many more of them.
Maybe being in China was best because I didn’t have the temptation. Though when we did take another trip to Shanghai later on when our eldest was 2, we stayed in a fancy hotel that had this amazing tub. My husband and I would take turns handling our girl while the other one of us soaked away in the tub. We both cried when we checked out.
Tub baths are indeed soothing experiences, but you will appreciate them all the more once you’re healed!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.