So, you or your client had a cesarean section?
A cesarean section is often treated as if it were a no-nonsense procedure from which women should recover quickly. In fact, it is serious surgery, and a huge intrusion into the wholeness of one’s body. It can cause many complications afterward, especially if the scar tissues are not tended to quickly. This can include prolapsed organs, bladder incontinence, abdominal and intestinal pain, hip pain, organ displacement, and more. But what woman is given information after delivery about how to tend to her scar?
This article should offer a little help, as it describes how, when, why to massage the surgical scar!
Why Should You Massage the Scar?
Our bodies have a tremendous ability to heal themselves. After being cut in surgery, tissues have to reconnect themselves, literally. In this process, connective tissues are laid down, often in a haphazard way. In a great effort to find union again, the connective tissue may bind to the wall of the abdomen, to the organs in the pelvis, or to the pelvic fascia. Sometimes it wraps around the intestine, or pulls the uterus and bladder off to one side. Women may experience pain with bowel movements, bladder incontinence, hip pain, headaches, or any number of complaints related to the pulling of adhesions in the abdomen.
Problems associated with scar tissue adhesions
Pelvic Pain, Low back pain, sciatica, intestinal cramping, uterine cramping, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse.
How does it work?
The fascia that interweaves between and binds all our organs and every cell of our body together, is actually very fluid-like. With skilled attention, the fluids respond to our touch, stretch and realign, gradually releasing the binding tension on the surrounding structures. Myofascial release will actually help tissues that are beginning to lay down after surgery, to align themselves in supportive and healing directions. Even an older scar, up to 2 years old, can still be improved with massage, but really, it’s best to start asap!
When is it Ok to start Massaging the Scar?
As long as there is not bleeding, stitches, or staples, or infection… in other words, as soon as the skin has healed completely, you can begin gentle work. By 6 weeks, you should be healed enough to tolerate deeper work. The body begins to lay down connective tissues right away after being cut, so the sooner you can attend to it, and encourage it to lay down a well-aligned network of collagen, the better of you will be. Often, when there is fear or trauma associated with the scar, I ask women to put their hand over or under mine, on their belly, so that they remember that They are in charge of pressure and sensations. We agree that we will stop or decrease pressure at any point that she chooses.
How to do it?
To do it on yourself: Place your fingertips over the scar, once it is healed, and gently push and pull it in all directions. Lengthwise, sideways, deep, light. As it becomes less painful, you can press more deeply in to work through the layers of the abdomen. Initially you will just be working on the superficial skin area. Whereever you feel resistance, push or pull more with that direction. The idea is to free the restrictions. Hold the tension against the resistance, being very patient as it very quietly, gradually, eventually to realize that it Can release!
Give it some time.. minutes not seconds!
As your belly relaxes, you will move into the deeper muscles of the belly. This is usually alot easier to have someone else do for you, but it is possible to do this yourself.
Again, listen and feel for restriction of movement. Everything should glide and roll easily under your fingers. When you are addressing the fascial restrictions, you might feel a burning sensation. That is normal.. that’s what you Should be feeling! Scar tissue work, while effectively relieving pain in the end, is not necessarily pleasant, like relaxation massage is!
Working deeper still, you will reach the level of the organs: intestine, uterus, bladder. Bend your knees to relax the belly more. Press in very deeply above the pubic bone, as if you could reach down to your spine or sacrum. Slowly pull your fingers up toward your navel, or move side to side to locate tensions and restrictions you may feel deep in the belly.
Lastly: You can’t do this part on yourself, and it may look strange, but a massage therapist can grab hold of the abdominal tissue (without oil) and lift up away from the hip bones–and hold for as long as able. This should not be a pinchy feeling, but instead, an amazing release as the fascia stretches throughout the abdomino-pelvic region. Release slowly and repeat in another area of the abdomen.
This massage needs to be done as often as you can tolerate, in order to have good beneficial effects. For new moms, it may the last thing you can think of doing for yourself, amidst baby care. But massage therapists can offer this work easily and should suggest it to every new mother who had a cesarean