How Do I Take Care of My C-Section Scar?
Babies are amazing. Getting pregnant and giving birth can easily be considered a miracle. It’s a challenging process from conception to birth - sometimes things don’t go as planned, and the vaginal birth plan you imagined can fall out the window. Maybe the baby is breech, or a little too big for you to have given birth vaginally, or maybe you needed an emergency c-section. Whatever the reason, lots of moms find themselves forgoing the planned vaginal delivery and having unplanned c-section births. The goal in every scenario is for the mom and baby to be healthy - nothing else matters.
Once you’ve had a cesarean birth delivery and are home with your new little one, you’ll have to contend with this c-section scar. Not a high price to pay for a baby but maybe a little unexpected. Lots of people struggle with their emotional and physical health and well-being while their scar heals. There are many things to keep in mind when taking care of your incision - keeping it clean being the first.
How to Keep the Incision Site Clean
- Keep the area of the incision site Clea, covered and moist.
- Use warm water with a mild soap to carefully wash around your incision daily when showering. Do not scrub. Gently pat the area dry after cleaning.
- Avoid submerging your scar in a bathtub, hot tub, or swimming pool in the first two weeks of your recovery.
- Let the tape (Steri-strips) fall off your horizontal incision on its own. It should take about a week. Don't touch them, just let them be!
How to Make the Scar Less Noticeable
According to Mayo clinic, whether or not you should use any products on your C-section scar is dependent on the type of closure material used in your cesarean, and on your ob-gyn recommendations. Once you get the surgeon's okay, certain hydrating agents like Aquaphor may be helpful.
Once the dissolvable stitches have dissolved completely, you can transition to a silicone scar dressing, like ScarAway, and use that two to three times a day to improve the overall appearance of the scar.
After the incision is fully healed, if you are still not happy with the way it looks, there are in-office treatments available:
- A hypertrophic scar can be treated with injections of steroids to help flatten and improve the look of the scar.
- A red scar can be treated with vascular lasers to reduce cutaneous vessels.
- To remove the scar altogether, scar remodeling procedures like micro needling, fractionated, or ablative lasers can stimulate collagen formation.
- Scar revision surgery is also an option for some women. It’s performed under a local anesthesia or sedation by a plastic surgeon. The scar is opened up and reclosed. It will take about two weeks to recover from the procedure, and about twelve weeks to see results.
It’s important to have a full understanding of the risks involved with each of these options, so make sure you have an appointment with your obgyn or health care professional first to understand the risks and to determine what method may or may not be right for you.
What Shouldn't I Put On My C-Section Wound?
Do not use any cleansing products on your wound. It may be unsafe and can even delay the healing of your wound. As a general rule of thumb, don’t put or rub anything on your wound that hasn’t been approved by your doctor first!
How Long Will the Scar Take to Heal?
C-section scars gradually change over time. At first, the healing process is pretty fast and you’ll notice daily changes.
The exact time it takes for a C-section scar to heal depends on each woman. Things like poor nutrition or infection can slow down the healing process, so following the steps below are crucial.
To promote healing during the c-section recovery process, try and do the following:
- Rest (easier said than done with a new little one on your hands!)
- Listen to your body. You just had major surgery. Don’t over exert yourself by bending down unnecessarily, and try to keep everything you need for the baby within reach. As a society, we have normalized having c-sections but the truth is that it’s an incredibly big operation and any operation requires recovery time. If possible, make sure you have a support system in place to help take care of your baby while you recover.
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than the baby for the first six weeks.
- Eat healthy balanced meals so that your body has the right nutrients for healing and creating healthy tissues.
- Keep the wound clean during the initial C-section scar healing period in order to prevent infection.
- Speak to your doctor if you are in pain in your lower abdomen or at the incision site. They may recommend pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which are usually safe for breastfeeding moms. Always speak to your doctor first before taking any new medication.
The Best Sleeping Positions After a Cesarean Delivery
1. On your back
This position puts no pressure on the incision. You can add a pillow below your knees for extra support and comfort.
2. On your side
This puts no pressure on the incision site and is less painful when getting out of bed. You can use pillows to support your hips and stomach.
3. With your upper body elevated
Prop up your upper body with several pillows so your entire body is raised. This promotes better breathing and helps sleep. You can also use pillows between your knees and under your hips.
Try sleeping in the sitting position with lots of pillows for support. Recliners should be comfortable for the first two weeks post delivery.
When to Visit Your Doctor: Signs of Infection
It’s important to check your c-section incision for signs of infection. Contact your health care provider straight away if your incision is red, swollen or leaking discharge. Other important signs to look out for include:
- If the wound becomes hard, or if pain in the surrounding area becomes worse
- If there is oozing pus coming out of the incision
- If there is any swelling
- If the scar is emitting a foul smell
- If you have swollen lymph nodes
- If you develop a fever of 100.4 degrees fahrenheit or higher.
Other serious symptoms that also prompt an immediate visit to your healthcare provider include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Acute pain in the belly
- Bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks through a pad every two hours or less.
- Vaginal bleeding that gets worse and is bright red more than 4 days after the c-section.
- Signs of a blood clot I.e. pain in the groin, calf, back of the knee, or thigh.
- Vaginal clots the size of golf balls
- The incision opening up
- Vomiting or nausea
- Difficulty passing stool or urine
- Depression or hopelessness
How to Keep the Scar from Itching
Itching is a normal part of the healing process after you’ve had a c-section. Do not scratch the incision site, or you could end up with an infection. Some women experience numbness at the incision site and if you add scratching to the mix, it's very easy to injure yourself.
You should also avoid wearing clothes that sit directly or tightly over the c-section scar. Wear comfortable, loose fitted clothing.
Hold an ice pack wrapped in a hand towel on the scar area for five to ten minutes to help relieve itching.