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A c-section can be a trying time for women and can lead to many different physical complications. You can reduce the risk of these complications by opting for a postnatal massage.
You should check with your doctor first if a massage is a good idea for you postpartum. He or she will tell you if it’s okay to have massage therapy, as well as what other treatments are best for the recovery process.
A postpartum massage has health benefits and can help you heal both emotionally and physically after you give birth. After having a c-section your postpartum journey and recovery is going to be different to a vaginal birth too, and there are a few key things to consider.
What is postnatal massage?
A postnatal massage can help restore the natural curvature of your spine, release tension in tight muscles and soothe aches. It can also be used to reduce emotional stress, depression or anxiety after childbirth. A qualified masseur will use a variety of techniques like Swedish massage therapy for postpartum relief.
New mothers who can’t get out of bed can also enjoy a postnatal massage in the comfort of their own home. Postnatal massage can be a helpful way for women recovering from the physical and emotional strain of childbirth to find an opportunity to relax.
Can you have a massage after a c-section?
Moms who are looking to get a massage after delivery should seek medical advice from their doctor or obstetrician – they’ll look at how mom’s scar tissue is healing, make sure the uterus is contracting as it should, and ensure recovery is on the right track.
Your abdomen is still sensitive after a c-section delivery and can be bruised from massage. Even gentle movements can hurt so it’s important to ask your doctor for advice before you have any postpartum massages.
How long should I wait for a postnatal massage after a cesarean section?
Generally speaking, you’ll want to wait for six weeks before getting a massage of the abdominal area after a c-section – around the same time you need to wait to drive, too. You have to rest and give your body ample time to fully recover before considering postnatal treatments.
That said, particularly if you are experiencing back pain post-delivery, you may be able to get a body massage for other areas. (Think those arms which have been holding up your baby to feed!) With any luck, a massage of other areas may have other benefits including helping you with better sleep.
When should I avoid getting a postnatal massage?
Complications around the time of delivery (such as the placenta not coming out fully) can mean that you shouldn’t have a postnatal massage soon after having had a baby. If you have an infection (including thrush) in your vaginal area, it’s not safe to get a postnatal massage until the infection clears up.
After you give birth your body will need time to start the healing process – both in terms of recovering from pregnancy, but also from the major abdominal surgery you’ve just had. Your doctor or obstetrician may be able to recommend a massage therapist who is the most suited to support your recovery.
If you used a vibrating massager during pregnancy, check with your doctor if it is still suitable to continue doing so.
Why does a C-section scar need to be massaged?
A scar can form a ‘keloid’ when it is not massaged. A keloid can occur after any type of surgery, and can grow into an unsightly lump or develop other complications like skin irritation that can make wearing clothing difficult.
It is estimated that for every 10 people, one will form keloids. Individuals with dark skin seem more likely than others to develop this type of scarring. (https://www.aocd.org/page/KeloidsAndHypertroph)
How often can I get postnatal massages after my wound is healed?
It is recommended that women should get a postnatal massage at least once to stimulate skin growth and help manage sore muscles. However, when doing so, it is important to make sure your masseuse has experience with this type of massage or gentle pressure on the abdominal region.
It can take around six weeks for the wound to heal. Given c-sections are surgery, common therapeutic treatments like lymphatic drainage can help improve the recovery process. These treatments can be used regularly to reduce swelling and promote healing after a C-section, but again you’ll need to consult your doctor before making any decisions on the frequency of postnatal massage sessions.
How to massage a c-section scar at home
Your obstetrician or midwife may tell you to massage your scar (assuming it’s fully healed first) in hopes of breaking up the scar tissue and stopping any itching. To massage your scar, lay down on your back. Using a non-perfumed cream or massage lotion, rub your fingertips over the scar in circular motions. Make 30 small circles in both directions over your scar, and try to repeat this a few times per day.
Things to consider before getting a massage after a c-section
Any massage you are planning after you have given birth should be carefully planned and considered. Here is a list of things to think about before you get your massage:
- Consider their qualifications – A postnatal massage from an experienced therapist should include abdominal massages even if you’ve had a c-section.
- Take precautions around massage frequency – consult with both your obstetrician and massage therapist before committing to a treatment plan. In some cases, regular treatments may be best, and in others, less frequent but more deep massages may be best. Depending on the length of your treatment plan, you may need to get your plans reviewed mid-course.
- Wait for a few weeks after delivery – relying on guidelines may not suit your own recovery. so speak with your doctor for a personal recommendation on how long to wait before you begin treatment.
- Communicate during your treatment – Let your massage therapist know the specifics of your scar and instruct them not to apply too much pressure on that area.
- Ask about what oils or lotions will be used – The benefits of massage may be countered by issues if you have a reaction to the oils or lotions used during your treatment. A non-scented oil may be more suitable if you have sensitive skin. Coconut oil is also a common recommendation for mothers with dry skin. (And it is often suggested to use when you’re massaging yourself at home in between formal treatments.)
In conclusion, postnatal massages can be a great way to relieve the pain and discomfort that can come with childbirth. But should you get a postnatal massage after a c-section delivery? Just make sure your masseuse is experienced in this type of treatment, and consult your doctor before making any decisions!