Post-Partum Scar Tissue
Typically, with having a baby comes some sort of scar tissue. Whether this is in the abdomen from a belly birth (caesarian section), or in the perineum (the tissue between the vagina and anus) from tearing or episiotomy with vaginal delivery. Check out these statistics:
· Between 53 and 79 per cent of vaginal deliveries result in a laceration (perineal tear)
· More than a quarter of births in Canadian hospitals every year are performed via C-section
· Routine episiotomy is not recommended, but about 1/5 of women will still get one
This means that almost every woman giving birth will have scar tissue present post-partum!
First off, what is scar tissue? Scar tissue is fibrous tissue that forms when normal tissue is destroyed by disease, injury, or surgery. Our bodies are amazing in that they will actually heal themselves! One of the first steps in the healing process is the laying down of new tissue, or collagen, over the injured site. The difference with this tissue compared to what was there before is that scar tissue is not uniform in nature. It is laid down in a random fashion, which causes the bumpy feeling you may have over a scar. Aside from the aesthetics of a scar, it may have other more impacting implications!
With a tear or episiotomy during vaginal birth comes scar tissue over the perineum. It drives me crazy that women aren’t educated on this prior to delivery because this scar tissue can be a huge source of pain post-partum, especially with intercourse. Most women get the clean bill of health and the go ahead to try intercourse again at their six-week checkup, when this tissue isn’t properly evaluated!
In a C-section, multiple layers are cut through (skin, fat, fascia, muscle, uterus) which leads to scarring of all these layers. These layers should move over one another, but this mobility can get compromised with scarring. Common complaints after a c-section are scar sensitivity, numbness, or pain with movement.
In both of these cases, the scars themselves can be mobilized to increase tissue flexibility and decrease pain. By massaging the scar, tightness can be reduced, and adhesions can be broken up. It is never too late to work on scars! Even if years have past since the delivery, scar mobilization can optimize flexibility in the tissue and improve movement and well-being!
Do you have post-partum scar tissue? Try a simple cross friction massage – use one finger to massage your scar in a direction that is perpendicular to the scar itself. If this doesn’t resolve your symptoms, book in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to get your scars assessed and properly treated!
[Stats from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists[