Giving birth can be a messy experience: and one thing that can make you feel much better is getting cleaned up in the bath or shower afterwards.
But how soon you can actually do this depends on a number of factors. For example, if you’re still dizzy/weak from any drugs you might have been given during labour (and if you’ve had a C-section), this could affect how well you can stand in a shower.
If you’ve had a C-section, it’s advised you do wash (either in the bath or shower) regularly in order to keep the wound clean – you might find a shower easier than trying to get in and out of the bath in the early days.
Having your bath or shower soon after birth
A lot of our mums shared how they were able to have their first bath or shower around an hour or 2 after giving birth.
For example Lucy G tells us: “I think it was about two hours after I’d given birth. Made me feel human again to wash all the blood off and have clean hair!!
“Plus I could have a wee in the shower so my stitches didn’t sting so much!”
Chelsee G had a similar experience: “Within a couple of hours once the bleeding had eased. I had amazing midwives who kept changing the mat under me every 10 minutes whilst I had skin to skin. Once it eased I was straight in the shower while daddy had cuddles.”
And Nicola I didn’t even wait that long: “I had a water birth and as soon as I was out of the water I was off for a shower
?? best shower ever!” she says.
Why your first bath or shower might be delayed
There are a number of reasons why you might need to wait a few hours before your first birth or shower – as some of our mums experienced. For example, if you’ve had a C-section, an epidural, or a catheter fitted.
Hayley G tells us she had to wait nearly 24 hours for her shower as her epidural “numbed me the wrong way from my waist to my neck – then I had to have a spinal tap for surgery after labour so basically couldn’t move as numbed my whole body.”
Laura P had an epidural too, so had bed baths instead, initially – which, she says, she ‘hated” ?
Kathryn G also had epidurals so had to wait before having her shower, but says she felt lucky that the nurses gave her bed baths until she was on the move.
If you have a catheter fitted, you’ll also have to wait for that first wash. Carol B had to wait more than 24 hours after birth, telling us: “I was bed bound with a catheter, but they didn’t even give me a bed bath, so for a whole day I was covered in dried blood. I felt absolutely disgusting.”
In addition, having a C-section could well mean you’re bed bound and that your first bath or shower is delayed: Jolene G had to wait 3 days to wash after her third child.
“I had a C-section so [was] bed bound for the first 24 hours, had a drain inserted in my wound that had to stay in for 48 hours, finally got it out but was advised not to shower until it healed over a bit so had to wait until I got home.”
Another reason some of you said you put off that first bath or shower was because you were simply too exhausted after going through labour.
Jessica C waited until the morning after having her baby – about 24 hours: “…would of had one sooner but was so tired I practically passed out once I was home,” she recalls.
In all instances after labour, it’s best to have a chat with your midwife about when you can have your first bath or shower.
What does the doctor say?
“With regards to a C-section you need to be mobilising well before you get into the shower,” Dr Philippa Kaye tells us. “Generally you will be asked to have a shower the following day or day after and to remove the dressing in the shower, or just soak it in the shower and then ask the midwife to remove it.
“The doctor or midwife will then check the wound. After that you can wash daily, though don’t scrub at it and gently pat it dry afterwards. You can get in the bath once you are mobile enough to get in and out of it!
“After a regular vaginal delivery you can have a bath/shower as soon as you want, as long as any epidural has been removed and you aren’t hooked up to anything.
“Once you are mobile you are good to go! If you have had an episiotomy then you may actively be asked to bathe/wash/shower daily and again should gently pat dry.”