healing after cesarean birth with massage
All new mothers can benefit from postpartum massage in the early days, weeks and months after Cesarean birth. A woman who has given birth by Cesarean is recovering from either a planned or unplanned major abdominal surgery, and even a short 20-30 minute postpartum massage can have a profound effect on her early postpartum experience. Her positioning is easily adapted to be comfortable in the early days and weeks, while using therapeutic techniques to sooth those sore muscles from pregnancy, birth and newborn care with specialized care for her healing abdomen.
In a 2018 study, the use of massage as an integrative postoperative pain intervention reduced first time mothers’ pain, stress and opioid use and increased relaxation after unplanned Cesarean births (Simonelli et al 2018). And for the lower abdomen’s Cesarean incision, a progression of holding on and gentle lymphatic drainage techniques around the incision begin the process. As a mama feels ready and the skin heals closed, the work can gently and gradually progress to deeper techniques weeks and months later that further reduce pain and numbness in the area, as well as improve function, elasticity and appearance. The benefits of scar massage potentially include stress reduction, a greater sense of embodiment, improved range of motion, reduced soft tissue adhesions, and better quality of life including mood and sleep.
Massage, by a skilled postnatal massage therapist, can help the scar tissue heal beautifully through the complex and fragile phases of recovery. We teach our clients how to continue with self massage at home to further their healing progress.
Sanctuary Healing Arts’ clients report a significant improvement in pain, numbness, movement and appearance of their “baby’s window to the world.” Mothers also share that they have more confidence in their healing and enjoyed knowing how to take care of the scar tissue with their own two hands.
what to expect
While the Cesarean incision heals and the skin closes, we offer very gentle, specialized lymphatic drainage techniques around the incision to support the initial healing process and reduce swelling. After the skin heals and closes, we offer light, gentle, slow massage techniques, increasing in depth over several sessions as scar tissue sensation, movement and appearance improve. With an unplanned Cesarean, it is also normal for mama to experience sensations of extreme fatigue and possible urges to complete the pushing stage of labor — we use breath, movement, and imagery to support her birth expression and feelings. Mama often falls into a deep, restorative slumber during the massage, and later wakes feeling rejuvenated.
All Cesarean scar massage techniques are demonstrated to the mama so she can continue caring for her scar between sessions and into the future. Babies are always welcome at our family friendly office – on the massage table in mama’s arms or in our table side bassinet. If a mother has missed receiving this beneficial work in the immediate postpartum time, please know this work can still be beneficial years and even decades later.
To learn more about our services and pre- and postpartum massage therapists, schedule a postnatal massage at our family friendly office or schedule an interview for postpartum doula care including postnatal massage in your home today!
Simonelli M, Doyle L, Columbia M, Wells P, Benson K and Lee C (2018) Effects of connective tissue massage on pain in primiparous women after cesarean birth, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, Vol 47, Issue 5, 591–601 Sept 2018.