Updated: Aug 6
Vaginal steaming for postpartum recovery is an excellent option! Clients of mine who have steamed consistently in the first few weeks have noticed many benefits. Some of these include; faster perineal healing, quickly shrinking hemorrhoids, reduced length of bleeding, fewer clots and lighter flow, increased relaxation, and an overall sense of calm. This all sounds great, but what exactly is vaginal steaming? And how do you do it, especially when you're navigating taking care of a newborn?
You can find out much more about vaginal steaming on my website here, but to give you a quick rundown, vaginal steaming involves making an herbal tea with herbs specific to vaginal health and postpartum healing, then squatting or sitting over the steaming herbal water to allow the herbal steam to rise up toward your vulva/vagina in order to work medicinally on your body. Vaginal steaming has been practiced in nearly every part of the world by women in many different countries and cultures to promote vaginal health and hormonal balance. You can find compiled research on vaginal steaming here if you're nerdy like me and like to soak up all the info you can find.
How do I steam?
The first step to steaming postpartum is to prepare your herbal tea and set up your steam. You should prepare your herbal tea according to the instructions that come with your herbs (assuming you are purchasing herbs). Next, you'll set up your steam. There are many, many ways to do this, which include minimal cost and effort all the way up to purchasing a stool or box designed specifically for steaming. I'm a bit of a minimalist, so I like to keep things simple. Here is how I personally steam and how I recommend steaming to my clients...
Before you start, be sure your toilet is clean. Lift toilet lid and seat and place a large glass or metal mixing bowl into the toilet. Lower the toilet seat.
When your herbs are done steeping, pour the herbal water into the bowl inside the toilet.
Allow the herbal water to cool enough so that the steam is still warm, but not too hot to sit over. When the steam temperature is comfortable, sit unclothed from the waist down on the toilet so the steam rises up toward your vulva. You can place a towel or blanket over your lap to keep in the steam and stay warm.
Remain seated over the steam until the steam is no longer rising or is no longer warm (usually 10+ minutes).
Dump herbal water into the toilet, flush. Or return used herbs and water to the earth or compost. Done!
If you prefer to purchase a steam chair and kit, there are several great options. You can find options like this steam kit, which includes a steam gown, chair and cushion. Or if you prefer a setup that's easy to fold and store away when not in use, there's this great foldable commode option, too.
Which herbs do I use?
There are so many fantastic herbal blends out there for postpartum recovery. When I make herbs for my clients, I customize blends for them based on their needs. My postpartum herbal blend usually includes several herbs with different properties - herbs that promote healing, tone the uterus, nourish the liver and kidneys, promote milk flow, are disinfectant, encourage adequate cleansing of the uterus and promote relaxation. You can read more about the blends that I offer over here.
*If you plan to make your own herbal blend and you're not familiar with herbs, be sure to consult with a midwife or herbalist who is - your yoni is your sacred gateway and herbs can be powerful when not used appropriately.*
When and how often do I steam postpartum?
After a vaginal birth, steaming should not be done until at least three days postpartum. An indication that the body is ready is that vaginal bleeding has decreased significantly since day one postpartum. After the third day, steaming takes place once per day for thirty consecutive days. For some folks, steaming once per day for thirty days is not attainable - and that's ok! An abbreviated (but still very much beneficial) plan is to steam once per day for fourteen days, or even every other day or as often as you can in the first thirty days. Keeping the steam setup simple makes it easier to do. Steaming is also an important time to spend with yourself for 10-15 minutes each day. It is a time that you can reconnect with yourself now as a parent, reconnect with your newly changing body, to take a few moments to meditate, breathe or just be with yourself. If you have very little postpartum support at home, but still want to make steaming a priority, you can steam while your baby naps, or you can hold or breastfeed your baby while you steam.
If you have had a cesarean birth, you will need to wait a few weeks before you begin steaming. Allowing your body to heal very well from abdominal surgery is a priority and you can still benefit from steaming in a few weeks. When you are ready to steam, you can follow the 'once per day for thirty days' plan, or any other altered plan that works for you.
What questions do you have about steaming for postpartum recovery? Leave them in the comments below. If you have experienced steaming postpartum, I would also love to hear about your experience!