Choose Massage Therapy To Help You Heal After A C-Section

Nicole Nifo RMT

We can say that most women experience similar things in postpartum and adjusting to life with a new baby. When it comes to healing your body after c-section, it’s not realistic to expect everything to heal on its own. You will not be back to normal after eight weeks.

Those of us who have had children realize that our body doesn’t usually go back to its normal state after having kids on its own. It takes a lot of time and effort to support your body while it heals.

Massage Therapy and My Postpartum Healing

Postpartum healing does not have to be complicated. Enlist the help of an experienced health practitioner, like a Massage Therapist. Massage Therapy is a useful tool that will help you feel calm and also aid your body as it adjusts to being postpartum.

Common injuries or strains that a Massage Therapist will treat with a postpartum patient are general muscle pain and tension, mummy thumb (De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis), blocked milk ducts in the breasts, headaches, cesarean scar rehabilitation.

When Can I Start To Heal My Scar Tissue?

After birth, we focus on desensitizing the skin and emotional barriers from birth around the scar. A cesarean delivery can carry some trauma with it. As a massage therapist and cesarean momma myself, I take caution with your c-section scar before I start releasing the layers of tissue around it. Try placing your hand over your scar and breath to connect to it, see if anything comes up.

From two to twelve weeks you can start to desensitize the skin around your c-section scar if it has closed (skin has unionized) and there is no risk of infection. Desensitizing will help to minimize the numbness. Using different textures, you will rub the skin in a downward brushing motion. I like to use a facecloth, drybrush and sponge to help bring back the feeling in the skin around the scar.

What Happens During My Massage Therapy Treatments?

After 12 weeks, we will start working with the skin layer, progressing to the muscle layer and finally the visceral/organ layer. This progression can take a few treatments depending on how you are healing and how you feel during the massage. I go at the pace that you are comfortable with and let you guide me so that you can experience the release of adhesions in the scar without too much discomfort.

The goal is to decrease any pain you have in the abdomen, improve the movement of the soft tissue around your scar and minimize the adhesions that have formed under the scar.

Book a one-hour treatment for your first appointment. In subsequent visits, book 30-45 min sessions if you prefer to focus on the scar work (longer treatments if you want to have other areas of your body worked on).

Pregnancy loss, my personal story

According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Miscarriage was something I saw on social media posts, heard about from patients and experienced through the stories my friends have shared about their pregnancy losses. I was in shock when it happened to me.

Our story starts on December 23rd when we found out that we were going to be expecting our 2nd baby in the Summer of 2019. At 6.5 weeks, we saw the heartbeat, although it was weak they said I should come back in 2 weeks to check again. We were just so excited to see that heartbeat!

At the second ultrasound, I was 8.5 weeks pregnant- the technician said she couldn’t show us anything on her screen, so we knew that wasn’t good news. We received the call from our doctor, and she compassionately told me that there was no heartbeat and the baby had stopped growing from the last ultrasound. We had experienced something called a missed miscarriage. I had no symptoms of a miscarriage, so my doctor made an appointment with the hospital for 9:30 am the following morning to go over next steps.

It all happened so fast, we discussed our options with the OBGYN, scheduled an A&C (aspiration and curettage) and I was put under general anesthesia. In recovery, I woke up and sobbed. It wasn’t a dream. The last 24 hours had felt like a dream, and I just moved through the motions. I felt empty like something was missing, and I could feel the soreness in my womb from the procedure. I was given Tylenol and a banana popsicle, while I waited in recovery.

I want to make a special mention of the amazingly compassionate and sensitive nurses and the OBGYN at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario. Not only did they help me feel so supported during such a hard time, but they also went out of their way to make sure I got into the operating room asap (I waited less than an hour, so I know they pulled some strings). Although it was such a hard day for my husband and me, they helped to make it a little easier for us to experience.

On our way home from the hospital, my husband picked up a balloon from the store. When we got back, he asked me to follow him into the backyard. He thought it would be nice for us to say our goodbyes and release the balloon into the sky. We watched it float away for what felt like 20 minutes holding each other tight, and at that moment I knew we were going to be ok.

We are so lucky to have such a strong support system of friends and family who regularly checked in on us. Over half of my friends have experienced a pregnancy loss and hearing their stories has helped me to feel a sense of community and belonging during such a difficult time.

After a few days, I was starting to feel less of the pregnancy symptoms (due to the decline in pregnancy hormones) and more clear headed. My emotions are like a rollercoaster, and I felt the need to write them out and express how I have been feeling:

I go through my day, and every so often I think to myself, I am missing something, I feel empty and you are gone.

I wonder what you could have been, and I wonder what I would have felt like as you grew bigger and stronger inside me.

I feel lost, I know it won’t last.

I know it wasn’t meant to be, but I am heartbroken.

Your little light, although it was a mere heartbeat on the screen, it was yours, and I loved it.

We didn’t know each other long but you will forever be in my heart, my dreams and apart of my body.

I hope we meet again when the time is right for you to bless our lives. I will always love and never forget you.

Love,

Mommy

We did share the news of our pregnancy with our 4.5 years old and of course, had to tell him about the pregnancy loss in a way his little brain could understand. I will create a post on how I communicated that to him.

We are determined not to let this loss define us, so we focus on the positives from this experience, and once we have healed a little more, we will start trying again.

5 Things You Need To Know About Healing From A Cesarean Birth

Cesarean birth, surgical birth, belly birth and c-section are all ways to describe childbirth via surgery.

After I went through my cesarean birth experience, I realized how little to no information is given to new mothers about healing from birth surgery. I remember being told-“keep moving and walking to prevent blood clots” and “do not lift anything heavier than your baby” (mine was 10.9 lbs-did that rule apply to me?).

Overwhelmed is an understatement, you are not only healing from surgery you also have a new baby/babies to take home, get to know, take care of and breastfeed/feed.

Whether you are planning a cesarean or you are recovering from an emergency cesarean, we all have our own unique experiences and expectations with birth so always choose the best option that works for you and your family.

Here are five things that will help you heal from your cesarean birth:

1. Eat Good Food. Proper nutrition during your initial healing stage is essential for helping your body heal, recover and restore. My rule is that any visitor who wants to see you and baby must bring a meal. As a convenience, you can set up a food delivery service to make sure you eat (you do forget when taking care of babies),. Or before the surgery, you can cook and freeze a bunch of meals that you can use once you get home to recover.

2. Don’t try to do it all. Becoming a new parent comes with a lot of judgement, pressure and expectations. Babies do not come with an instruction manual and a lot of parenting is trial and error. Have a relative or friend stay with you the first two weeks to lend a hand or another option is to hire a postpartum doula to help you take care of the baby and take the stress of off you and your partner/spouse.

3. Rest is the best medicine. Sleep is hard to come by when you are feeding around the clock with a newborn, but you can still rest. If you are tired of being in your bed, set up a comfortable, quiet area in your home to rest. The most important rooms for you are the kitchen and bathroom-so stay close to those.

4. Do one thing a day for yourself. Taking a shower or stepping outside to get some fresh air are some easy-to-do options.

5. Healing your body physically. I recommend that you use three different textures to massage above and below your scar within the first 8 weeks postpartum. You can use a dry brush, terrycloth, and a sponge. This will help the nerve regrowth and decrease that numbness that is common in the lower abdomen after a cesarean. Also, please book in to see a pelvic physiotherapist and get your pelvic floor checked out. Massage Therapy can start as soon as you are able to get up and move around, although the focus of treatment wouldn’t be on the scar release therapy until at least 12 weeks postpartum.

6 Your birth story matters. Healing from a cesarean takes time, so be patient and remember that birth can be hard mentally and emotionally. Some will experience trauma while some others will feel at ease having a surgical birth. Your birth is unique to you. It is important to check in with yourself or a professional to clear your mind and feel at ease about your experience. Trauma is very real and can happen at any moment during the birthing/pregnancy process, there is no shame in finding a local perinatal social worker or psychotherapists to talk to about how you are feeling.

#birthisbirth