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How can c-section scar massage help with your recovery after surgery and birth?

Updated: Apr 4

Mum recovering from a c-section
C-section recovery

I recently answered a common question on one of my local Mums Facebook groups:

"Hi there, those of you who have had a c-section, I'm wondering if there are any tips for recovery and reducing scarring other than the obvious of taking it easy not lifting heavy etc, I've heard of people using compression garments, belly bands for support, silicone gels and pads to minimise scarring and led therapy..? I would love to do what I can to minimise it if possible & to also make sure I recover well..."

So, immediately I thought, I can really help this lady out and give her some tips, this is my bread and butter. I work with ladies on the postnatal care ward as a nurse, I am very familiar with the healing process, and longer term I see these ladies in my PT practice during their rehabilitation. I was also pleased to see that others offered the same suggestion of c-section scar massage. So, here is my answer to her...

"Postnatal care nurse and pregnancy/postnatal Personal Trainer here, Congratulations!

I would recommend waiting a good 5-6 weeks postnatal until your scar is healed at least on the outside, with no scabs or raw areas then you can start some scar massage. Your scar is through 7 layers of tissue that normally glide freely over each other but when they heal they will heal all stuck together and not glide nicely like before, so the c-section scar massage will help loosen that scar and reduce the risk of restrictions, scar appearance, improve blood flow and help with desensitisation.

If you feel uncomfortable touching it or have numbness, you can initially start with desensitisation by touching it with a variety of different textures starting with soft and building up the coarseness, ie cotton wool ball-facecloth. And at different depths or pressures.

Message me for more info if you like. I also have an online Postnatal recovery program if you're interested let me know and I'll give u the details."

As you can imagine I got a grateful reply from this lady.

So, let me break it down a little more for you...

Tip #1 - Desensitise your c-section scar

Many ladies find touching or looking at their scar can be very uncomfortable, strange, triggering....

They may not like their babysitting on their tummy because or wear soft high wasted pants rather than courser material pants like jeans because it is uncomfortable on their scar. Whatever it may be for you for whatever reason, desensitising it first before starting massage will likely be helpful in starting to calm this aversion and/or the first step to manage pain.

You can gently start this step within the first few weeks after your c-section as it is still healing.

You can work on the sensitivity of your scar by brushing a variety of textures across it such as a cotton ball or facecloth, gradually progressing in the coarseness of texture but being sure not to disturb any scabs.

Tip #2 - C-section scar massage

Once you have got to a comfortable level with your scar where you can touch it, you can start massaging it, you need to wait until it is healed at least on the outside, in inner layers will still be healing if it's around the 5-6 weeks postnatal mark. So no oozy bits, scabs, redness, or other concerns with your scar.

Start out softly and gradually increase the pressure and firmness you use over a few weeks.

Follow along with the next few tips for actions you can use, and spend about one minute doing each action daily.

Wait at least 5-6 weeks until your scar is nicely healed on the outside before attempting any scar massage

Tip #3 - Right to left, left to right

Using 2-3 fingers push down on your scar starting from the right side of your scar and drag your fingers across the scar all the way to the left side keeping the pressure on.

Repeat the other way.

Tip #4 - Pressure and zigzags

Starting on one side of your scar place your 2-3 fingers over or just above or below the scar and press down to comfortable pressure, press and pull your scar up towards your belly button and down towards your pubic bone in each spot working your way across to the other side.

Tip #5 - Round and round

Massage in a circular pattern around the area of your scar, above, below and around all the way across to help get your surrounding tissues moving.

Tip #6 - Pinch and roll

Pinch up your scar between your fingers and roll up and down and side to side.

So, there you have it, massaging your scar regularly and actually any part of your tummy that might be holding tension and preventing you from reconnecting correctly with your core and pelvic floor after birth.

I'm sure if you have read this you are also curious about what else you can do for your postnatal recovery, how to return to exercise, and improve your core function, as well as your pelvic floor and posture. You will find more info like this, along with follow along videos of how to do all my recommended C-section recovery exercises progression through Phases one, two and three from birth to function confidence and strength again right here inside my online C-section Recovery Program.

I hope you find this helpful, leave us a comment and let us know how you found the desensitising, did you need that step?

And were you surprised at how quickly you noticed improvements in reducing restrictions from your scar?


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