If you’ve had a c-section, have you ever noticed that raising your arms above your head hurts in your low abdomen? Have you ever sneezed or coughed and thought that you tore something near your scar, even though your incision has been healed for months or years? Have you noticed that you had normal bowel movements after the surgical delivery of your baby, but as the months wear on, constipation is becoming more and more of a problem? When we talk about fitness after pregnancy, we often talk about topics like pelvic fitness, safe core exercises, and how to make sure you don’t pee yourself when you sneeze. We don’t often talk about keeping track of the health of your scar. Most likely, you will never know that you are supposed to do more than just let your incision site “be” after awhile because most doctors won’t tell you to do more than that. So, let’s talk about that today. I have had two c-sections myself, so I know firsthand some of the issues mamas deal with in regards to this procedure. Fortunately, I stayed on top of the healing process for my incision site, so I can say that I haven’t experienced any long-term problems as a result of the surgeries. I want the same for any mama who is having or had a c-section to deliver her baby. So, I share this information in hopes of helping to make the recovery process from your c-section as smooth as possible.
What is a c-section scar?
When a doctor delivers a baby surgically, they cut through your skin and abdominal wall, separate your muscles (they do NOT cut them, that’s a myth), and then cut into your uterus to reach your baby. Sutures are used at each of these incisions to close them up, and over time, scar tissue develops.
Why does scar tissue matter?
Scar tissue is not inherently bad for us. It’s a fibrous tissue that helps keep incisions and injuries from reopening. The problem is that scar tissue doesn’t stretch, and it can continue to grow even after an injury has healed. This can cause adhesions, which basically refers to scar tissue attaching itself to healthy tissue that isn’t involved in the scar itself. When you move, instead of your healthy tissue stretching, the fibrous scar tissue can pull on the healthy tissue, and cause a great deal of pain. It can cause tightness in the abdomen that leads to irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. It can make life pretty uncomfortable.
How do I keep this from happening to me?
There isn’t a direct way to keep scar tissue from developing, or potentially overgrowing. What you can do, however, is to work with whatever scar tissue exists to keep it as soft and mobile as possible.
Here’s how you start.
- Get the all clear from your doctor that your scar is fully healed. If you begin massaging it or pressing on it early, you can cause it to reopen or not fully heal in places.
- There are three layers of tissue that need massage. For some people, the third is too sensitive at first, and that’s okay. It can take a long time for your scar to lose that sensitivity. It’s okay to massage the first two layers in the beginning.
- Begin massaging your scar, using the tips included in this video
- Repeat as necessary and ice if needed after massaging.
- With time and some effort on your part, you will notice the area around your incision site will start to feel smoother and more pliable.
If you’re recovering from any kind of scarring from pregnancy, either tears during vaginal labor or incisions from a c-section, gentle and careful massage can make a big difference in ongoing function and comfort. And of course, if you’re looking for more general tips about how to get fit during after pregnancy, VixieMama is here to help.
Did you experience pain at your incision site after a c-section? Tell me about it below!