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Does 'Pausok' or 'Suob' Help A New Mom's Recovery After Childbirth?
PHOTO BY @qwerty01/iStock
  • Childbirth pushes a woman's body to its limits: the cervix dilating 10 centimeters, labor that can last for many hours (or even days), and going through excruciating pain overall.

    During childbirth, as the woman tries to push her baby out, the doctor sometimes makes an incision on the mom's perineum (a perineotomy or episiotomy) to facilitate the delivery of the baby, although the World Health Organization now discourages this practice unless absolutely necessary (Here's why doctors perform an episiotomy). The wound is closed up with stitches following the procedure. 

    A woman who had just given birth requires meticulous care. Recovery and healing after childbirth takes time, during which rest, and proper care of the perineal wound, are necessary. 

    According to Dr. Barbara Ann Coma, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Perpetual Help Dalta Medical Center in Las Pinas, the time it takes for the wound to heal varies from person to person. "Normal delivery wound healing starts as early as 1 week, while full recovery takes about 2 months. It really depends [on several factors]."

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    Based on traditional beliefs, a woman is prone to binat (relapse) after childbirth, especially if precautions aren't observed.  

    One of the common practices in the Philippines is subjecting a new mom to a suob, a ritual believed to help her body heal faster and prevent binat. It is usually done three weeks later to coincide with her first full bath after childbirth (elders believe delaying a new mom's first bath is beneficial for her health).  

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    A concoction of herbs is first boiled several times to collect enough water to be used by the new mom for her first bath, then the hilot burns incense on the same wok the herbs were steeped in. The new mom has to stand with the wok between her legs and expose her wound to the smoke from the incense for about 5 to 10 minutes. Suob is believed to eliminate lamig (cold) from the body and drive away "bad spirits."

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    The practice of suob is not recommended, however, according to Dr. Coma, as it has no scientific basis and no known benefits to the new mom.

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    For the wound to heal properly, "just use a mild soap or Betadine feminine wash twice a day" to cleanse and disinfect, advises Dr. Coma. 

    On the other hand, women who develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy and after childbirth may use a sitz bath, she says. 

    A sitz bath is a shallow bath that is used to clean the perineal area. It can help provide relief especially while the episiotomy wound is still fresh. A sitz bath is usually nothing more than warm water in a shallow container on which the patient sits, but sometimes, adding povidone-iodine, or vinegar, or baking soda, could make it even more soothing.

    Dr. Coma adds, "Pain and abscess (swelling caused by pus) in the wound area is a bad sign," so if you notice such following childbirth, consult your ob-gynecologist immediately.  

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