The C Section Scar:
Perhaps the greatest obstacle many mothers face when anticipating a cesarean is the c section scar. Vain or not,
many mothers worry that it will leave them looking "deformed" and "all used up". Oh, to the contrary!
A Beautiful Battle Scar!
It is a mark of beauty, of a body's purpose fulfilled. You have earned that battle scar!
Of course, it certainly does help that today's c section scar is a faint shadow of the ones our mother's wore!
My mother delivered myself and my two siblings via scheduled cesarean in the seventies, early eighties. Her scar
is 7-8 inches long and runs the length of her belly (navel to crotch).
For today's typical woman, the healed scar is much smaller and less noticeable. In fact, the scar is so low on your
tummy, that your pants and underwear cover it up.
A healed c-section scar is 4-6 inches long and about
1/8 inch wide. (Much better than my mother's 7 inch scar!)
The surgical incision will begin to shrink within the first six weeks of surgery as your overstretched pregnant tummy
begins to shrink to its normal size.
Your incision will be somewhat (not excessively) tender for awhile. The scar will be slightly raised,
puffy, and darker than your usual skin tone at the beginning. This is normal at not a sign of an infection.
As it continues to heal, it will gradually start to match your natural skin color and will narrow to be
about 1/16 inch wide. Of course, your scar may be slightly thicker than this. Different people have different scars.
It will most likely be fully healed (on the outside) within three months. Eventually you'll be left with
a faint purple scar as a medal-of-honor for passing the final exam into motherhood!
Healing a C-Section Scar
Naturally, you can let your incision heal on it's own. However, one of my favorite organic lotion companies, Earth Mama Angel Baby
has a wonderful
"C-Section Healing Kit" that will feel like a piece of heaven.
The kit includes the C-Mama Healing Salve, the Comfort Tea, Happy
Mama Spray, and a soothing CD. Also, a portion of the profit is donated to The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). So pamper yourself,
heal faster, AND donate to a good cause! All in one purchase of goodies.
What Causes a C-Section Scar?
Despite the misconceptions of many, the scar is not the result of an infection. The c-section incision
will leave scarring, It is the result of re-attaching the various layers of skin and tissue.
Fortunately, modern cesareans leave much smaller scars compared to those of yesteryear.
There are two separate incisions made in a c-section. The first is through the abdominal wall (leaving a
visible scar on your tummy) and the second is made in the uterus itself (with the scarring on the inside).
Abdominal Incisions (made on the outside)
- A vertical incision goes from just below the navel to just above the pubic bone.
It is used when doctors need a large incision or if the baby needs to be removed quickly.
- A bikini incision is a horizontal cut made across the lower abdomen and near the pubic hairline.
This is the most popular abdominal incision because it heals well and causes the least discomfort.
Uterine Incisions (made on the inside)
is the most common uterine incision. It is made horizontally across
the lower portion of the uterus. It bleeds less than higher incisions and forms a stronger scar that is less
likely to rupture during future labors.
- The low transverse incision
The classical incision (also called high vertical) is made vertically across the center of the
uterus. This incision poses a higher risk for bleeding and future tearing. Today it is only used when
The low vertical incision is similar to the classical incision, but instead of a vertical cut in
the center of the uterus, it is performed at the lower end (where the tissue is thinner). This may be used
to deliver a baby who is breech or transverse position or if there is a possibility a larger opening
(a classical incision) will be necessary.
The C Section Scar Itch and Infections
It is common for the scar to itch like the devil while it's healing. This is normal, and shows that the body is beginning to
knit itself back together.
Resist the urge to rub or itch! You could tear it open, causing excruciating pain and
a trip back to the doctor to start all over again. Use lotion or cream to soothe the area instead.
Infections, although rare, do sometimes occur. Luckily we have antibiotics and smart doctors to help when they
happen. You can get more information about infections after c-section here.
If your C Section scar makes you feel ugly and "used up", remember one thing: Without that tiny mark on your tummy,
you wouldn't be holding that beautiful baby in your arms.
It's a small trade off for the blessing and wonder you have with that little one nestled against your breast!
All the photos on this page can be found at www.flickr.com and
according to licensing requirements.
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