Cesarean Scar: What You Need to Know (and Do) About It
The Surgeon’s Work is Done, It Is In Your Hands Now
Cesarean birth is such a badass way to give birth to a baby. You just grew another human in your body for 9+ months, then had MAJOR surgery to bring the baby into the world, and then were handed a baby to take care of, immediately after MAJOR surgery. What’s more badass than that? The problem is, during your hospital stay and your 6 week check up appointment, you may not have any idea what to do with your incision other than don’t take a bath for 6 weeks, call if it is oozing…..you know, “medical-y things”.
Here is what the surgeons aren’t telling you.
4 things to do for your c-section incision
1. Immediately touch your abdomen
And I mean immediately! You can start touching your abdomen as far away as right under your breasts, but then slowly work down closer to your scar. You’re going to have to wear real pants again someday, and you want to be as least sensitive in that area as possible. Also work up from your thighs. Your skin may feel prickly or numb. Spend about 5 minutes a day just touching your skin.
2. After 21 days, start touching your scar with clean hands, moving in all directions.
Directly touch your scar. Right on top of it. Move in straight lines, diagonals, and circles (think moving north-south, north-west, north-east….). You do not have to push hard! Gentle touching and movement is all you need to start off. Maintain some pressure under your fingers and you glide in each direction, and if you find a sensitive or tight spot, hold there for 90 seconds (which feels like an eternity). You may even have a feeling of the scar melting away like butter.
3. After 30 days, start working your scar a little more
Now you can start gently “picking up” (gently pinch) the tissue around and over your scar. Check to see if one side is easier to pick up than the other. It tends to be that the right side is tighter than the left, due to the set up of operating rooms. Work on your incision every day for 3-5 minutes, for at least 6 months.
3. Extend your spine and abdomen
Caring for a newborn means TONS of time spent sitting down, in a bent over position. Every day, you want to be able to be completely flat on your back (about 2 weeks after delivery, the sooner the better). I felt comfortable being on my stomach about 3 weeks after surgery. You can then slowly stretch from flat on stomach, to pushing onto your elbows. Avoid any sharp/shooting pains. It should feel like a gentle stretch.
It may seem crazy to think about, but soon your sweet babe will be crawling all over you and will surely sucker punch you or kick you in your scar (somehow, they always find your weak spots!) The more you work on it, the less tender you can make it. Call your provider if you have any open areas, or unusual discharge from your scar.
Hands-on help from a Women’s Health Physical Therapist is extremely helpful to know exactly how to do scar mobilization. There are several resources to find one in your area, here is one.