So you’re 6 weeks post a planned or unplanned caesarean birth and your GP check has given you the all-clear. That must mean that your scar is healed and all is well?
There’s much more to it than the skin healing well…
It is really important that parents who have birthed abdominally know that the skin healing vs. the tissue healing are two very different processes. When your GP looks at your scar, they’ll be checking that the skin is intact without any open or infected areas. All very important, but it’s what’s happening underneath that can have long-term impact on exercise, functional movement – even your mental health if there is chronic pain or things don’t feel ‘quite right’.
So what’s going on under there?
Collagen is a protein that the body produces to heal the skin and improve skin tissue strength. The ‘remodelling phase’ and starts from about 3 weeks post-abdominal birth through to around 2 years post birth. Collagen is also responsible for the formation of adhesions, which are bands of scar tissue that join internal body surfaces that are not usually connected. It can look a bit like a spider web when lots of adhesions have been formed.
When the body needs to heal 7 layers of tissue (watch this video for a non-graphic but helpful demonstration of this), adhesions can easily develop over time. This is a natural part of healing from any kind of surgery or wound, but it can cause a lot of pain and complications if many adhesions develop.
An example of what can happen post-abdominal birth is when layers of abdominal muscles are joined together by adhesions so they cannot move in a comfortable way. When this type of restriction is in place, it can affect your diaphragm function for breathing, create lower back pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.
How do you know if you have adhesions?
Here are some common symptoms:
- Non-diagnosable abdominal pain (sometimes years after the birth)
- Trouble standing up straight
- Swollen/bloated abdomen
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful bowel movements
- Secondary infertility
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Increased menstrual pain (since the birth)
- Pain/tenderness at the location of your scar
- Swelling after the birth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and find yourself struggling with day-to-day life, you should speak to your GP to see if you can have further investigations into the possibility of adhesions being the cause.
If you sense that that you may have adhesions and have some mild discomfort, you could see a trained therapist who specialises in Scar Tissue Release Therapy. This is a gentle and effective technique used to decrease discomfort, fascial adhesions or congestion of scar tissue. It can be used as early as 3 weeks post-birth to mobilise the tissues around the scar area but it’s never too late to start it.
So in summary, it’s really important to remember that an abdominal birth scar takes much longer than 6 weeks to heal and sensations may occur months or years later down the line that shouldn’t be ignored.
If you are still pregnant and reading this in preparation or have just birthed your baby abdominally, you might also find this post about recovering from an abdominal birth useful too.
We hope you found this helpful. Please share the link with your friends and family as it is such an important but under-publicised area that could make all of the difference to someone’s day-to-day life.