Contrary to some misconceptions, going through a C-section, whether it’s your choice or not, is anything but the easy way out when it comes to childbirth. Picture it: abdominal surgery, anesthesia, and a recovery time that feels longer than a British winter. And let’s not forget the post-op pain, the possibility of winding up with a wound infection, and the added twist of trying to care for a tiny human at the same time. Easy? Not by a long shot!
C Sections are on the rise
In the UK, C-sections are on the rise, with a predicted one in three babies born through this surgical marvel by 2030 – or maybe even closer to one in two in reality. With such high numbers, it’s time to question why our post-C-section aftercare isn’t getting the standardised makeover it deserves.
Now, let’s get real about post-C-section care – specifically, the TLC your scar needs. I’ve chatted with lots of women online and in our Cheshire clinic about the aftercare they received after their C-section, and trust me, it was a horror story. Coming from two rounds of vaginal deliveries, I just assumed (wrongly) that someone would be keeping tabs on the scar, changing dressings, and handing out care instructions. Wow, was I mistaken! The variation in wound aftercare across the UK is mind-blowing. Many mums aren’t getting the basics on how to champion scar healing after a C-section, and that’s a massive letdown. If your c section is your first ever surgery, how are you expected to know what to expect, what to look out for and what you could be doing to reduce the risk of issues further down the line.
Now, let’s spice things up with a bit of scar science. The skin is unbelievable when it comes to healing, and scar tissue is its way of saying, “I got this!” In the first days post-C-section, your incision is likely to be all dressed up in surgical finery, and you’ might’re probably going to feel some discomfort – totally normal. You have just had surgery that cut through seven layers. YES – SEVEN!
Enter the Inflammatory Phase (Days 1-6): Expect some redness, swelling, and warmth around the incision – just your body’s natural response to the battle wounds.
Proliferative Phase (Days 7-21): New tissue starts to develop, and your incision begins to pull itself together.
Remodeling Phase (Weeks to Months): As time marches on, the scar chills out a bit, becomes less raised, and might even play the disappearing act over the next few months or up to a year (but this is not always the case).
Long-Term Healing (Several Months to a Year or More): It’s a marathon, not a sprint – your C-section scar takes a solid two years to hit full maturity. So don’t be worried if your years post section and still wanting to make some difference to the scar – you still can.
Now, let’s talk scar types because our bodies are the ultimate artists, and they’ve got three main styles after a C-section:
– Atrophic: Flat, flush, and blending in over time – like a pro at camouflage.
– Hypertrophic: Pink/red and a bit raised but stays along the line of the scar.
– Keloid: Pink/red, raised, and spreading wider than the original scar – this is due to excess collagen production.
Knowing your scar type can be a game-changer for how you champion its healing and dodge some of the issues down the road.
Common Issues due to Scarring
Fast forward to the long-term issues that might cause some issues further down the line.
- Pain and Discomfort: Some women will experience persistent pain around the scar site or in other parts of the abdominals, making daily activities a bit of a struggle.
- Scar Tissue Buildup: Improper care can lead to the accumulation of excessive scar tissue, potentially causing adhesions and limiting mobility.
- Appearance Concerns: A poorly managed scar may become more noticeable, stay red and angry looking, cause an overhang of skin above the scar and all of these can impact a woman’s body image and self-esteem.
- Delayed Healing: Inadequate care can lead to slower healing times, prolonging the recovery process for new mothers. Some wounds will become infected and require antibiotics which will add to the delayed healing time.
Unfortunately, the aftercare for C-section scars in the UK is like a sitcom that falls short of expectations. Many women feel like they’re on a solo mission to crack the code of scar management, armed only with Dr. Google, which is a wild jungle of misinformation.
We’ve got your back (well, your scar at least!)
Thankfully, there’s a crew of Scar Therapy practitioners, including yours truly, on a mission to spread the word about scar care in the local community. If you’re on the lookout for a local scar therapist, check out the search tool here. These practitioners have all been trained by Scar Expert Hannah Poulton and so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.
There are also some really good social media accounts, using evidence-based practice that are definitely worth following:
Or why not join us for our online Scar Skills workshop for just £10 on Wednesday 27th March – whether you have already had a section or have one scheduled, arm yourself with the tools and skills to manage your scar effectively.