A note from Anna: It has been wonderful to see people sharing more on social media about their c-section scars and recovery! It is a privilege to invite Hannah Poulton, an experienced physiotherapist and scar specialist to share her tips on recovery. Her knowledge is fuelled by a passion that mums would be equipped and encouraged with the helpful and holistic information they need most.
Hello all. My name is Hannah Poulton and I’m a Senior Physiotherapist, Scar Specialist, Acupuncturist and Women’s Health Practitioner. I own HLP Therapy and have over 2 decades of experience within Physiotherapy.
My passion has always been to see individuals recover well, not just from the physical effects of an accident, surgery or trauma, but to acknowledge and heal from the emotional aspects too.
That is why I built HLP Therapy. A beautiful place where I can combine a multitude of skills to listen and treat every individual in a truly holistic and tailored way. I’ve always had an interest and bias towards women’s health and especially postnatal care. I believe the postnatal care for mums in the UK is sub-standard, and more needs to be done to care for mums after they have given birth and especially if they have suffered a traumatic birth or c-section birth. After the difficult birth of my two children, (one vaginal, one c-section birth) I explored further into c-sections and c-section recovery. My professional education and personal experience, allows me to understand and empathise with postnatal mums, which only seeks to enhance the treatment I provide.
My main speciality is c section recovery and all that includes. The next few tips may enhance your recovery and help connect with your c section scar.
- Be gentle on yourself: After your c section you are told very little about how to recover well. You are given this 6 week “time frame” in which you should recover in. But for some this is only the start of their recovery journey. Of course, your scar will do it’s best healing within this time period, but a scar takes up to 2 years to reach maturity (which means it’s constantly changing within this time). There seems to be such pressure and a rush to heal, but my best piece of advice to start with is “be kind to yourself.” Allow yourself time to reflect on your birth, time to heal well, don’t overload yourself with “a never ending list of tasks to complete.” You have been through major abdominal surgery and this needs to be recognised and acknowledged. Give yourself permission to say “no” to other peoples demands and ideas on your recovery. This is your journey in your time and your way. Don’t compare your recovery to others. It won’t help you on a physical or emotional level.
- Looking after your scar: In the early stages there are some simple ways in which you can look after your scar: pat dry your scar, don’t rub with a towel after a shower. Instead, use a muslin cloth to gently dry over your scar. Allow the scar to breathe. This means wearing loose cotton fibre clothing and allowing the air to get to the scar as much as possible. This could mean laying on the bed or sofa with your baby next to you and having no clothing over your scar. 10 mins a day is all you need. Your scar may feel numb. This is because nerves have been disrupted during your c section birth. Gentle sweeping hands over your tummy in the first few weeks, pat drying your scar and looking at your scar (even if it’s in the mirror) will all start to help you “engage “with your scar. There is also no rush to do these things. If you can’t bear to touch your scar in the early stages, then this is perfectly normal. Take your time. There is no rush.
- Six weeks after your c section (only if you are ready) you can start self-scar massage. Have a look at my videos on Instagram and YouTube on the best ways to massage your scar. Get a good scar cream (check out my online shop for the ones i recommend). Start light. Use “feather light” sweeping motions with your hands over your tummy and scar. If you can’t touch your scar at this point, then that’s ok. Take your time. Gently work on your tummy, bringing the tissues into the middle (where your belly button is). Do this after a warm shower or warm bath, so you are relaxed and comfortable. If touching your scar and skin is something you are not comfortable with, try using either really thick cream on your fingers (to act as a barrier between your fingers and scar) or use a soft towel or cloth to sweep over your tummy and scar. Use self-scar massage for 5-10mins a day when you are relaxed. Take this time out for you.
- To aid in scar recovery and also your overall postnatal recovery, it’s important to feed yourself well. Now I know chocolate and coffee are important (!!), but perhaps try some of these foods too. Strawberries, oranges, nuts, pulses and seeds. Oats and yoghurt, protein shakes, oily fish and leafy greens. You will need to put back in and feed your body with the good stuff in order to accelerate your recovery. Protein is really important for healing and also keeps you filled up! So make sure you are getting plenty of this in your diet. As we are over 60% water it’s important that we replenish this daily. Make a flask of water in the morning and carry this around with you and keep sipping throughout the morning. Refill at lunchtime and repeat. Keep reminding yourself to drink and flush your body with clear water. This also aids in scar recovery as the tissues under the skin are well hydrated and heal so much quicker.
- When you feel ready you may want to start moving your body. You may want to join a class (always look for “postnatal trained” instructors) who really understand what postnatal c section mums need. You may want to see a specialist physiotherapist before you return to exercise. My advice is start off slowly and build up. You’ve been through pregnancy, abdominal surgery and birth and probably sleep deprived too. So start off with gentle breath work, coupled with pelvic floor work. You may also want to try some basis exercise such as: knee slides, bridge, cat and cow, childs pose, wall planks and side clams. Listen to your body: it will tell you what you can do. There is no rush and no race.
I really hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. For more information on my c section recovery kits and to see the courses I am currently running for new c-section mums and professionals in c section recovery, check out HLP Therapy and look under “Positive-C-Section. ”
Keep going mama…you’re doing a great job! ✨