This is the first of a series of posts on postnatal healing rituals for new mothers. I think that our culture sorely lacks rituals when it comes to nurturing new mothers, and I love reclaiming and sharing ideas around making new mamas feel special and cared for.
A couple of weeks ago I bumped into my friend Siobhan Taylor, a local independent midwife, at our hospital’s open day. On her stall, she had these gorgeous smelling little muslin bags, and she told me they were perineal herbal baths for new mothers. Siobhan kindly shared her recipe with me:
Lady’s mantle 1/2 cup
Lavender 4 cups
Black cohosh 1 tablespoon
hops 2 cups
chamomile 2 cups
ginger 1/2 cup
dandelion 3 cups
golden seal 1/2cup
comfrey root 1/3 cup (dried and very finely chopped or crushed)
willow bark 1/2 cup
marigold petal (dried, 1 tablespoon)
Siobhan added that it is recommended to add a couple of chopped cloves of garlic to the muslin bags (because of their great antibacterial properties), but that the bags do not smell as nice so not all mamas want the garlic added (you also have to add it at the last minute as it is fresh and would spoil is kept in the bag).
I wanted to make my own perineal soak bags, but I didn’t quite have all the herbs in Siobhan’s recipe. A google search brought many different recipes, so I decided to make my own recipe, a mix of both the recipe above and some I found online.
I used the following:
- 2 cups dried marigold : helps reduce inflammation and promote wound healing, also an antiseptic.
- 2 cups dried chamomile : has calming and antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 2 cups lavender – has wound healing, calming, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, mildly analgesic properties. It also smells amazing, and helps with relaxation.
- a handful of crushed dried rose buds. Rose petals are astringent and can be used to staunch bleeding from scrapes and cuts. They make the bath more luxurious. Rose is sensual, and evokes the spirit of love in the heart and mind.
- 2 cups sea salt-antiseptic, helps the body remove toxins through the lymphatic system, brings relaxation to muscles and the entire body.
Mix your herbs and salt in a big bowl. Cut small square pieces of muslin and place a few tablespoons of mixture in the centre (depending on the size of your square). Tie with natural cotton string.
To use, place in bath or sitz bath, pour hot water only and leave to steep for 5 min, then add cold water until shallow comfortable bath is ready.
Sit and soak perineal area for at least 5 min.
Experiment and have fun with what feels right for you and the mama your are supporting.
I also think it makes a wonderful relaxing recipe for birth workers, I think I’ll have one in my bath tonight 🙂