A c-section scar is a monument to the incredible feat that has taken place in your body. It’s also yet another aspect of motherhood that we don’t talk about nearly enough.
Some mamas opt for a cesarean birth for a variety of reasons, from reducing problems later on to having more control of where and when your baby makes their appearance.
And sometimes it’s not a choice. An emergency, such as a breech birth, may mean that a c-section incision is the safest way to go to ensure the health of both mama and baby.
Either way, a c-section is surgery—and surgery can be traumatic. Couple that with all the feels that come along with childbirth anyway, and you have a perfect storm of big emotions. As a result, you may feel a c-section scar on the inside even more than you see it on the outside.
It’s a lot to deal with. So how about we normalize conversations about the c-section incision and the cesarean scar that comes with it? Deal?
The cesarean scar: FAQs
What actually happens with a c-section?
The aim of a cesarean is to get your baby into the big wide world. The exit route? Your abdomen. The operation is performed by making two incisions, one through your lower abdomen and the other through your uterus.
Your doc will then close up each c-section incision with a choice of medical adhesives: sutures, staples, medical tape, medical glue, or a combo of these.
What does a c-section scar look like?
Most c-section scars are smaller than you might think. The fact that a whole baby exited through the area is remarkable.
How your c-section scar looks will depend on the kind of c-section you have: horizontal or vertical.
Horizontal c-section scar:
A horizontal c-section incision is also called a bikini incision because it sorta-kinda follows the horizontal line of a low-cut bikini bottom.
Many mamas prefer this incision type, as it can result in less bleeding. Also, if you’re looking to have a vaginal birth sometime in the future—what would then be called a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean or VBAC—a horizontal c-section incision decreases the chance of the scar splitting open during labor.
In terms of what it will look like, this type of cesarean scar is usually the less obvious kind and can be concealed easily if you’re not in the mood to show it off.
Vertical c-section scar:
Rather than go across your belly, this type of c-section scar travels along the line of longitude. While there are some variations to this norm, a vertical c-section incision will start below your belly button and end above your panty line.
Although this used to be the standard method—it’s actually referred to as the “classic cut”—it’s no longer used that much and usually only kept for specific circumstances. Most often, this c-section incision type occurs when your doc needs to get to your baby quickly, or when your baby is in a position that requires the kind of exit route that the horizontal incision can’t provide.
A vertical incision can be more painful and take longer to heal. Be patient with your body. It’s done one heck of a job.
How long does it take for a cesarean to heal internally?
Okay, here’s the lowdown: a c-section is a big operation. You’ve birthed a baby from your womb. You’re going to need some recovery time.
In most cases, you’ll need to stay in the hospital for about three days after you’ve had a c-section incision, and longer if they need to monitor you for any reason. You’ll then need another six weeks or so to heal completely.
Now, this can be really tough—because the thing that’s so often left out in this discussion is that you also have a newborn on your hands.
Be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Don’t try to do too much too soon. You’ve already performed a miracle. What else could possibly be on your to-do list for the month?
Do c-section scars go away?
Our bodies are pretty impressive healing machines. After about two weeks, your scar should be well healed and will get fainter over time. While you may always have a light line where the c-section incision took place, it should be hardly noticeable.
There are also scar revision procedures that you can have done a few months after your baby has been born, but these are not that common and can be expensive.
Why does my c-section scar itch?
This is an interesting one—in many cases, it itches because it’s healing. When surgery takes place, nerve endings around the site can get damaged. If you’ve been wondering why it all wasn’t more painful at the time, this could be the reason. However, those nerve endings are resilient and they’re bound to make their comeback. As a result, your c-section scar can start itching not at the time of your surgery, but a little while after.
So, although a little irritating, itching is usually a good sign that all is happening as it should.
Why does my c-section scar hurt?
While rare, there are some concerning reasons for why your c-section scar may be hurting. In what is known as incisional endometriosis, endometrial tissue (the tissue that gets the lining of your uterus ready for an embryo to implant) can spring up around the c-section incision. This causes endometriosis—and if you’ve had any experience with this in the past, you know that it can be a source of a lot of pain.
Give your doc a call if you’re at all worried about the pain you’re experiencing.
Can a c-section scar reopen after years?
The short answer is: yes, a cesarean scar can reopen years after the operation. (Dehiscence in med-speak.) This is, however, highly unlikely.
It can happen for a range of reasons, stemming from having to undergo other surgery, giving birth vaginally, or simply experiencing stress and strain.
If you suspect that this is happening, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider as soon as possible to avoid any further complications.
And if you’re looking for more information or advice about a c-section, why not ask a Peanut mama who’s been there?