C-Section Scars: The Complete Care Guide
Bringing a baby into the world is a miracle, but it also takes a toll on a woman’s body! Both vaginal and c-section deliveries come with their own set of challenges. For mamas who have given birth by cesarean section, the c-section scar can be one of them.
We think you should wear your scar proudly! But we also know that c-section incisions require some care, and many women want to reduce the visibility of the resulting scar.
Whether your baby is already in your arms or you’re anticipating a c-section delivery, you’re in the right place. Our experts at Mustela would like to give you a few tips for caring for your c-section scar so you can be healthy and confident!
For those of you who aren’t sure what to expect, let’s start with what your c-section scar might look like.
What Does A C-Section Scar Look Like?
To get your precious little one out of your belly and into your home, a c-section involves two incisions: one in the skin on your abdomen and another in your uterus.
The incision on your uterus will be sewn up with dissolvable stitches that you won’t need to worry about. The abdominal incision, on the other hand, is the one you’ll care for while it’s healing and the one that will leave a visible scar.
What your scar looks like will depend on what type of incision the doctor makes.
Most doctors make a horizontal cut low on your belly, near your pubic hairline. This is called a “bikini cut.”
The bikini cut is the most common way to do a c-section and comes with what many women would consider a distinct cosmetic advantage — it leaves you with a less-noticeable scar!
The other type of c-section incision is a “classic cut,” which runs up and down from your belly button to your pubic area. The classic cut is mostly used in emergency c-sections.
Your c-section scar won’t be very big and only four to six inches long. Surprisingly, it doesn't take much room to get a baby out!
With a bikini cut, you’ll have a thin scar near your pubic hairline once you’re all healed. Your scar might even be low and small enough to hide behind your panties or swimsuit bottom.
A scar from a classic cut, on the other hand, may be more noticeable because it runs from near your belly button down toward your pubic area.
As we mentioned, your uterus will be stitched up with dissolvable stitches, so you don’t have to worry about those at all.
Your tummy will be stitched with staples, sutures, surgical glue, steri strips, or a combination of those. Some types of stitches require a follow-up appointment for your doctor to remove them. Others — glue, for example — will just slowly peel off as you heal.
Whatever kind of stitches you have, remember that if your incision becomes red, swollen, more painful, or starts oozing, you might have an infection. A fever is another sign of infection.
If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Caring For A C-Section Incision
Before you start working to reduce the visibility of your c-section scar, you need to focus on caring for your incision and recovering.
Follow your doctor’s orders, and take the advice below.
1) Clean The Area Gently
Be gentle with your incision and don’t scrub it. Warm, soapy water while you’re in the shower is enough to keep it clean.
2) Wear Loose Clothing
Wearing loose clothing allows for airflow around your incision, which helps the healing process. And soft, loose clothes are just more comfortable. Pressure around your incision area won’t feel good.
3) Find A Good Breastfeeding Position
Speaking of your tender belly, you might find it difficult to breastfeed without your baby pressing against your incision. Our advice: try the laid-back position or football hold. They often work well for c-section moms.
Read more about breastfeeding positions here.
If you’re dealing with the double-whammy of c-section recovery and sore or cracked nipples, try Mustela’s Nursing Comfort Balm. Our fragrance-free formula moisturizes and protects sensitive nipples, eases discomfort, and helps to replenish and restore your skin!
4) Take Appropriate Pain Relievers
Your doctor might give you a prescription pain reliever when you leave the hospital. If not, you can usually take ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Remember to ask your doctor what you can safely take — especially if you’re breastfeeding — to ease your discomfort.
5) Go To Follow-Up Appointments
After a surgery like a c-section, you need follow-up care to make sure your body is healing as it should. No matter how much you want to stay home, don’t skip your follow-up doctor’s appointments!
6) Take It Easy
In addition to bringing a baby into the world, you’ve just undergone a significant surgery! Some activities will be off-limits for around six weeks.
You won’t be able to lift heavy items, exercise, or drive until your doctor gives you the okay.
The other thing you’ll have to wait on is sex. It will probably be six weeks before you’re ready to be intimate that way again. Talk with your doctor (as well as your partner) so everyone is on the same page.
7) Treat Yourself
For as much attention as your c-section incision requires, don’t neglect the rest of your body! Show your skin some love with Mustela’s Body Firming Gel.
This light and refreshing gel is a specially formulated post-pregnancy product that hydrates your skin, giving it a firmer look and overall feel. It’s easily absorbed by the skin, 100% compatible with breastfeeding, and safe for both mothers and babies.
Note: For moms who gave birth by c-section, wait a few weeks before applying Body Firming Gel directly to your scar.
How To Minimize Your C-Section Scar
A c-section scar is nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s also understandable if you want to make it less noticeable. Here are a few healthy, natural ways to support healing and reduce the visibility of your scar.
1) Eat Well
Your body has a lot of work to do healing from a c-section! Support the healing process by eating well.
Stick to a healthy breastfeeding diet — a diet that’s low on sugar, alcohol, and caffeine and high on grains, protein, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Hint: this is a great eating plan to follow even if you aren’t nursing!
2) Avoid Sun Exposure
Your scar will be sensitive to sunlight for some time. Too much sun exposure too soon could make your scar darker or lighter than the skin around it.
It’s best to avoid exposing your c-section scar to the sun for the first several months following your c-section. If sun exposure is unavoidable, make sure to apply sunscreen to your scar, as long as your doctor says it’s OK.
For safe and effective sun protection, try Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. Our daily hydrating sunscreen is formulated without chemical UV filters, parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol. That makes it safe for the whole family!
3) Massage Your C-Section Scar
Another way to naturally minimize your c-section scar is to give yourself a little massage. As great as a back massage sounds, that’s not what we’re talking about here.
A special massage for your c-section scar can help to increase blood flow and break up the scar tissue, hopefully reducing the scar!
Ask your doctor when it’s okay to begin massaging your scar. You’ll probably need to wait four to six weeks after your c-section.
Using the tips of your fingers, gently stretch the skin a couple of inches around your scar. Move around the scar, stretching your skin side to side as well as in circular motions.
To massage the scar directly, place your fingers on top of the scar and push slowly up, down, side-to-side, and around in a circle.
Another way to massage your scar is to lift it using your finger and thumb, then roll it between your fingers, working your way down the scar.
Wear Your C-Section Scar Proudly
A c-section can’t stop you! With rest, care, and a little effort to reduce the visibility of your scar, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
Keep Mustela’s Stretch Marks Oil on hand for scar massaging (but remember to wait several weeks before applying directly to your scar!) and our Body Firming Gel to show some TLC to the rest of your body.
No matter what your c-section scar looks like, embrace it. You carried your little one for nine months and then brought them into the world — and you have the scar to prove it. Wear it proudly!