Healing After C-Section Birth: Scar Massage

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“To all women who have brought life into the world, to their courage and power. Thank you all.”
-Jane Claire, “C-Section Guide: A Handbook to be Informed, Empowered, Pro-Active”

A C-section is two very important things. First of all, it is birth. C-section birth is also major surgery which requires rehabilitation. Education and support is often lacking in regards to being aware of the potential post-surgery complications. Basic tools for healing and repair beyond “go home and rest” are sorely needed as follow-up to ensure the health and safety of mothers.

C-section surgery cuts through six body layers leaving a scar. The incision cuts the fascia (connective tissue) of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, superficial nerves and disrupts the lymphatic flow. As a result, scar tissue forms along the abdomen and uterus.

If you’ve had a C-section, these signs and symptoms may indicate that you’ve developed the bands of internal scar tissue known as adhesions.

  • Generalized pelvic pain or abdominal cramps
  • Sense of pain, tugging or pulling in the abdominal area when you bend forward or sideways, while lifting, leaning, reaching or standing up straight
  • pain, discomfort, or urgency when urinating
  • pain or discomfort with intercourse
  • infertility
  • gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation (including IBS)
  • low back pain
  • incontinence
  • pelvic organ prolapse

“If not treated, scar tissue can spread in multiple directions. It can also travel up towards the diaphragm and inhibit breathing”.

How Can You Immediately Address Healing After C-Section?

  • rest and recovery
  • avoid doing too much, too soon
  • keep your incision clean
  • avoid lifting anything heavy
  • eat well to support healing

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Scar Tissue Massage as Medicine

With physician clearance post-c-section, women can generally begin scar massage at 6-8 weeks postpartum. Or seek a qualified massage therapist or physical therapist. Gentle, consistent massage for as little as 5 minutes per day is effective. It involves massaging the scar tissue so it becomes softer and more pliable using “three dimensional focus, slowly and gently separating the adhered tissues in all directions.”

Some women don’t want to look at or touch their scar because of pain or numbness. Everyone has different responses; there may be little to no pain, a burning sensation, pain, or emotional release which can include feeling sad, angry, or incredible relief, crying, laughing or any combination of emotions.

Benefits of Scar Tissue Massage

  • softens tissues
  • increases circulation
  • lightens color of the c-section scar
  • reduces “pooch” if caused by fluids trapped by the dam of scar tissue
  • creates a flat, smooth scar
  • stimulates the nerve endings
  • reduces/eliminates numbness
  • increases circulation
  • improve body awareness
  • reduce lumps and chords which may contribute to complications from adhesions (see list above)

Initially, hold below your scar to avoid it opening. The actual scar is much deeper down than what you can see and feel.  Focus on gentle, deep breaths into your belly to help relax the muscle and skin tissues and the nervous system. After you massage for a long time, the scar softens and you can penetrate the abdomen more deeply and help dissolve the deeper levels. To prevent keloids, apply silica strips or gel which will help with discoloration and scar texture on the surface.

Healing After C-Section Birth: Dry Skin Brushing

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Dry skin brushing is an effective tool for self-care and recovery after c-section birth. It can increase circulation, remove dead skin, decrease infection, and assist healing by protecting an incision from developing ingrown hairs.

dry-skin-brushingBenefits of dry skin brushing include:

  • Moves the lymph which flows down in the deep skin layer.
  • Helps prevent or reduce ingrown hairs on or around the incision.
  • Stimulates the skin’s oil glands maintaining healthy, functional skin.
  • Stimulates circulation which helps remove toxins, tightens the skin, and accelerates healing.
  • Improves the function of the nervous system.
  • Tones the muscles.

LYMPH is a major component of our IMMUNE SYSTEM. In fact, our bodies contain more lymph than blood. Lymph brings our cells nutrients and removes their waste through white blood cells called lymphocytes.

Dry skin brushing moves the LYMPH when it can get clogged with large proteins and particulate matter. Lymph is the only way they can be transported back into the circulatory system. When these proteins are not removed, they attract other fluid which results in swelling. This is called lymphedema.

Consistent skin brushing will reduce and eliminate INGROWN HAIRS around the incision. If not treated, these hairs can create blemishes and lead to more scarring.

The skin is your body’s largest organ and vital to proper ELIMINATION OF WASTE PRODUCTS. If the skin is not maintained, the kidneys will take over this duty and be put under great strain.

Dry skin brushing removes the old top layer of skin, allowing the clean new layer to come to the surface. Our bodies make a new top layer of skin every 24 hours thus producing a softer smoother scar and skin in general. The old, neglected outer layer of skin has been tested and found to contain uric acid, which is highly toxic.

Our skin actually BREATHES when unclogged! It is designed to be a major route of detoxification but cannot function properly when clogged with dead skin cells and the waste excreted through perspiration. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging our bodies’ natural capacity for discharge of metabolic wastes.

Many women report that their scars feel numb. Dry brushing rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. This stimulation causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move which also helps muscle tone. This benefit greatly contributes to the recovery of the abdominal muscles as well.

The combination of dry skin brushing with daily cesarean scar self-massage (see “Healing After C-Section Birth: Scar Massage”) is a great combination in your toolbox for healing.

C-section birth recovery and postpartum recovery in general, can be a multilayered and sometimes delicate process. Your commitment, consistent effort, patience, and perseverance will pay off! It takes strength to ask for help when you need it.

Remember to have compassion and give yourself major credit for doing the amazing and hard work of being a mother!