Steaming during pregnancy is contraindicated until reaching full term where it can come into play for labor preparation and active labor support. Steaming is also an incredibly powerful tool for boosting postpartum recovery during the fourth trimester and beyond by continuing to provide nourishment, strengthening and healing for encouraging optimal recovery until the (hopefully very healthy) menstrual cycle’s return ideally 9-12 months later
I personally did all three and continue to steam weekly to keep my cycle from returning prematurely and to set myself up for smooth, unproblematic bleeds. At the time of writing this, I’m currently 6 months postpartum.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body requires 3 conditions to go into labor
While steaming does not initiate or induce labor, it does support all 3 of those necessary conditions which can help encourage the natural process along. Steaming supports the body’s natural changes as it prepares to go into labor, it does not cause them.
Steaming can also be used in preparation for scheduled C-sections or inductions. The only hard contraindication to steaming for labor preparation is placenta previa.
GBS exists in all vaginas and is always present. In cases where tests show high amounts, steaming can be used to rebalance levels and avoid taking antibiotics.
Steaming during active labor can help support repositioning, “stalled” labor, provide comfort, relaxation and pain relief. In my own labor, just a few hours (is time even real during labor??) before my son was born, my traditionally trained midwives helped me steam over a coffee mixture. I was nearing transition so it was not particularly relaxing, but it helped in assisting my son, who had been staying fairly high up the whole time, make his way down to the birth canal.
- clear out lochia, providing faster recovery time and lowering the risk of infection
- close the vaginal canal, supporting the pelvic floor
- lift the uterus back into position
- address prolapse if present
- alleviate discomfort of stitches and accelerate healing
- reduce bladder incontinence
- reduce tissue swelling
- lower blood pressure and high pulses
- diminish hemorrhoids
- reduce bloating by dispersing water retention
- reduce strength and occurrence of postpartum contractions
- improve the dreaded postpartum poops
- address past problems like cysts, fibroids and other pathologies that can now be targeted more directly while the cervix is open
- promote the release of oxytocin, helping with breastmilk production, according to a study done on rats
To see the Steamy Chick Institute’s study on the effects of postpartum steaming see their Fourth Trimester Vaginal Steam Study
Each body, pregnancy, and postpartum is unique and requires specific protocols to address all situations safely. To learn more about how we might work together in this capacity click here!