There has been a major conflict about whether or not, a cesarean is considered a “real” birth. I’ve even heard the term “extracted, not birthed”. Personally, I believe that C-sections are as real a birth as a vaginal delivery. Different circumstances call for different measures, but to each their own, I guess.
Well, your beliefs on C-sections are not the point of this post, so let’s get on with it now, shall we?
This post is for all the mothers out there (or whoever knows someone who has had a C-section) and what to do with those gnarly scars that usually come with a cesarean delivery.
First off, let’s talk about cesareans.
According to NICHD or NIH (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), a cesarean delivery (C-section) is a surgical procedure in which a fetus is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.
According to the CDC, in 2010, almost 33% of births were by cesarean delivery.
C-sections can be planned ahead of time, or they can be needed in an emergency. One may be needed if a woman is carrying multiple fetuses (twins, triplets, etc.), complications during labor, the infant’s health is in danger, the fetus is too large, the infant is breech, the mother has an infection, or their are problems with the placenta.
You can read more here with the NIH.
C-section deliveries generally have a longer recovery time than a vaginal birth. They also generally result in a scar from where the incision was made.
And for those moms out there that aren’t done having babies, don’t worry. Having a C-section doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a vaginal birth in the future. You can check out ICAN, or the International Cesarean Awareness Network, about VBACs (Vaginal Births After Cesareans) here..
Sometimes, though, even after the scar has healed, there can be pain at the incision site. These can be because of abnormal adhesion that has occurred between the layers of soft tissue.
Makingmomstrong has the perfect description of how our bodies heal:
After our skin and tissues have been cut through – as soon as the two sides are placed next to each other with stitched or staples – our bodies go straight to work on healing or gluing itself to whatever is nearby.
Our body is organized in layers and normally these layers are independent and slide over each other. Imagine a multi-layer cake. The outside is your skin, the fat (deep breath and love your body), the fascia, the peritoneum (the abdominal sac that is pressurized and hold all of your organs), more fascia holding your organs in places and then finally your uterus.
After an incision is made through all of these layers and then stitched back together, the layers can then “stick” together as they heal. This can limit mobility of your body because of these layers not gliding over each other anymore. Some women feel tight into their hips and even upper body from their lower abdominal incision – imagine a shirt that is tucked into your pants, when you lift your arm overhead it pulls up the front of your shirt – or in this case your incision line a little.
Mobilization of the C-section scar (after completely healing, of course) is important. Scars can pull on your body. They not only effect the surrounding joints and tissue, but also those further away. So massaging and moving your C-section scar (or any scar really) can help you to break up some of that scar tissue.
Your doctor may instruct you to massage and mobilize your scar to promote the breakup of scar tissue. And Makingmomstrong has once again provided us with some tips on how to massage or mobilize your scar:
- Use the pads of your fingers.
- Don’t use oil or lotion as you don’t want to slide over the skin, you want to anchor the skin and gently move the skin over the layers below.
- Move the skin with your fingers and when it stops moving and you feel a pulling or slight burning sensation then hold that stretch for 30-90 seconds. Never made a sharp intense pain, go lighter than that.
- You can also anchor one side of the incision with the fingers of one hand and pull in the opposite direction with the other hand.
- Skin rolling – try to lift your skin and roll it off of the layer below.
Work at it for 5 minutes and then repeat again in the few days. Over weeks and months your scar should loosen.
Fun fact: Under the surface of your scar, there is tunneling about an inch each way where scar tissue can also develop. So you shouldn’t just massage your scar, but about an inch out either direction.
But did you know that your own manual massage is only good for so long? Like a year to be exact!
And that’s where we can help. Here at Cutting Edge, our therapists have worked with loosening and mobilizing all types of scars, new and those that have developed over time.
Our therapists not only use their own manual therapy and massage that will help your scars, but they also have special tools that make the process easier. Have you heard of Graston Technique? If you haven’t, you can check out a recent blog post we did about it here. But Graston is great for scars and all of our therapists are certified in this amazing technique!
Having a new baby is already a lot on a new mom’s plate. If your cesarean scar is causing you pain, schedule with us today and let us help you! We also love babies here, so don’t hesitate to bring your little ones!
Also, April is Cesarean Awareness Month!
If you’d like more information on C-sections, you can find amazing information from these awesome sites:
**This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.