“Scar tissue needs to be rehabbed too,” says Lauren Collins a pelvic physical therapist at Body Connect Health and Wellness.
Honestly, what a concept!
These are hopeful words. Why? Because I never really thought of skin as being “rehab-able” (like a knee injury) so I stressed about living with discomfort from my perineal scar forever.
When it comes to scar care, the advice (if you get any) is usually to break up the scar tissue to help it become mobile and supple again. That means a lot of self-massage, rubbing oils, and possibly having your partner help you with it, which can be a nice way to connect.
Marisa Alonso, co-founder of Body Connect Health and Wellness explains that people have scarring tendencies. “Some people when they get a scar they get [keloids] and the scar tissue gets really bound. Some people have really mobile tissue,” says Alonso.
My perineal stitches turned grainy and bumpy. I even had a few granulations that I had to remove. The skin felt raw, tender, and stretched out for months after giving birth. My physical therapist taught me how to gently stretch and massage the skin helping desensitize trigger and pain points. She said I was "retraining" my body to not associate pain and discomfort with touching my perineal skin. I used 100% raw organic coconut oil for the massaging. It helped to replenish the skin with fatty moisture, plus the oil is antimicrobial and smells like the tropics!
Don’t Let the Scars Be
“One of the more common things we treat related to cesareans is…pelvic pain. Part of it is that if people develop scar tissue here [pointing to abdomen] and it starts to pull up on their pelvic floor it can lead to pelvic tightness and vaginal pain doing intercourse. Another one is bladder dysfunction and urgency, again because the scar tissue just irritates the bladder, and sacral pain because the scar tissue just pulls back on the sacrum,” says Alonso.
When you have any surgery it’s going to affect our sensory nerves. Alonso explains that scar tissue limits the ability of a muscle to contract. When muscles are bound from scar tissue it can't function normally. She says, “A lot of times you have to loosen up that scar tissue in order to get that contractility back.".
Perineal scars are similar, it’s just that perineal scars are a little more “out of sight out of mind."
The last thing you want to do is ignore your scars for more reason than you’re ignoring an entire part of your body. “I can’t tell you how many people tell me, ‘Oh, I just don’t touch it.’ And you’re like, ‘No, no, no, you have to touch it,’” says Alonso.
Our scars are as unique and individual as we are. Also, scars from childbirth can be layers deep (physically and emotionally). For these reasons, I highly recommend you work with a physical therapist, naturopath, or other professionals who specialize in postpartum and scar care. A good practitioner will help you understand how your body tends to scar, what to look for, and teach you how to care for scars on your own.
Do you have childbirth scars? How did they heal? What advice, if any, did you get on caring for it?
*Updated from October 20, 2016
**Medical disclaimer: This post is provided as information and resource only. It s not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the guidance of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding your postpartum care and conditions.