June 13, 2023
Hot springs bathing for postpartum mothers and new babies
Written by Grace
we’re often asked whether mothers in the postpartum phase can visit Peninsula Hot Springs.
If you’re a new mother craving some rest and recuperation, wanting to connect with loved ones heading to the Springs or simply keen to resume your regular self-care routine, we spoke to our Medical Director, Dr. Marc Cohen, for some general guidelines on visiting Peninsula Hot Springs after having a baby.
Of course, each mother has their unique experience and set of circumstances and should speak with their health professional when determining what is safe and appropriate for them and their baby.
wait until you are healed
While Dr. Marc doesn’t believe there is a significant level of danger when it comes to bathing in geothermal water following childbirth, he suggests it is best to wait until you are fully recovered and have no ongoing discharge before bathing with others.
“There are no hard rules, but if you’ve had a C-section, episiotomy or perineal tear and have stitches, you don’t want to bathe until the wound has sealed and should check with your doctor if you’re unsure — this is true for any surgery,” says Dr. Marc.
bathe for short periods of time
If you’re in the aftermath of birth, Dr. Marc says it’s better not to soak for too long and recommends spending shorter stints in the water instead. He also says it’s important to dry the affected area gently and thoroughly after bathing.
Having said that, Dr. Marc points out that hydrotherapy in small doses can actually be helpful for pain relief and relaxation while you recover — think of the way that people use sitz baths for postpartum and other ailments.
When visiting Peninsula Hot Springs, there are plenty of other experiences on offer besides immersing your body in geothermal pools. New mothers might like to explore shallow baths and barrels to soak their feet and legs, as well as hammocks, day beds and mineral showers. There are also relaxation spaces dotted throughout the Bath House (some of which can be privately booked).
Dr. Marc says breastfeeding mothers should be wary not to spend long in the saunas or steam rooms. However, he adds that brief periods bathing in a sauna, steam room or hot pool can encourage milk flow, improve sleep, reduce stress hormones and potentially help with mastitis. It is very important for breastfeeding women to stay adequately hydrated while at the springs.
keep babies at a thermoneutral temperature
Of course, many mothers in the postpartum phase will have their young babies with them when bathing at the springs. Peninsula Hot Springs has no minimum age for bathing and we accept babies of all ages — however, Dr. Marc suggests “it’s probably a good idea to wait until the umbilical cord is detached”, which often occurs at around two weeks old. He highlights that newborn babies also have the vernix (the waxy, protective coating they’re born with) still on their skin, which should remain intact for as long as possible (and not be removed through any vigorous bathing or scrubbing practices).
It’s also important to bathe babies in thermoneutral water, as they are unable to regulate their body temperature in the same way adults can.
“Babies and the elderly don’t have good thermal control,” he says. “They can overheat quickly and get cold quickly, so you want to keep them between 36.5 and 37 degrees Celsius.
“An infant has a very small surface area to volume ratio, which means they lose heat quicker and become chilled or overheated much, much faster.”
If you’re unsure, you can test the temperature of the water against the inside of your wrist or elbow to ensure it’s not too hot or too cold.
Ultimately, it’s about monitoring your baby to see if they are happy and comfortable.
“You need to tune into the baby,” says Dr. Marc. “There are signs of a baby getting cold. You’ll start to see the veins appear in their skin because their skin is more translucent. And if they’re turning pink, they’re too hot.”
Follow these simple guidelines
Finally, Dr. Marc has devised some general guidelines for geothermal bathing that can be applied to postpartum mothers and babies.
This advice goes for everyone, but young babies and breastfeeding mothers in particular need to stay hydrated. Bathing in geothermal pools tends to have a dehydrating effect, so it’s essential to increase fluid intake when visiting the hot springs.
Pay attention to the temperature of the water and — especially for babies — check that it’s neither too hot nor too cold.
Dr. Marc says that a healthy bathing experience is all about “tuning into what feels right and what is right for you” as well as what feels right for your baby.
Be aware of your own limits — your body will likely feel different postpartum, so the way you use the facilities at the hot springs will differ, too.
Resting between or after immersing yourself in hot springs is always a good idea. You are also likely to find you sleep much better after bathing.
Ultimately, Dr. Marc says bathing at Peninsula Hot Springs is “definitely not contraindicated” for postpartum mothers and that “there are no absolutes here”. Whatever stage of life you’re currently in, we have something for you to experience at Peninsula Hot Springs — and we look forward to welcoming you soon.
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