Scarring After Childbirth
There are two main ways that you can experience scarring after childbirth. The first way through a caesarean section surgery, involves the appearance of a scar that forms as the skin heals after being cut for surgery. The second type of scarring- stretch marks- occurs when the skin is damaged as it grows rapidly to accommodate the growing baby inside.
Of course, only individuals that cannot have a natural birth and undergo a caesarean section (C-Section) delivery will experience the first type of scarring. However, between 50 and 85 percent of pregnant women experience stretch mark scarring after childbirth.
In order to prepare for these types of scarring and their treatment you must first understand the scarring and its causes.
Caesarean Section ScarsBefore major advances in medical procedures, C-sections were performed with a cut that went vertically down the abdomen. Today, however, most C-sections are performed with a horizontal cut that is about 4 to 6 inches in length and that is made very low on the abdomen so the resulting scar is smaller, less visible, and usually hidden by the pubic hairline.
As the scar from the C-section begins to heal it will have a raised, puffy, and usually discolored appearance. This is because the scar is new and not yet fully covered with new skin growth. Around six weeks after the surgery the scar will begin to shrink considerably. As time goes by the scar will shrink even further and the coloring will better match that of the surrounding skin.
Stretch MarksStretch marks are the long, wide, shiny or silvery marks that occur on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, thighs, and sometimes arms of pregnant women. The stretching of the skin and the separation of collagen in the skin that occurs as the abdomen grows or the women gains pregnancy weight cause these marks, which usually occur later in the pregnancy.
Although every pregnant woman is at risk for developing these marks, some women have a slightly higher risk due to other factors. Family history is a big indicator of the occurrence of stretch marks. If your mother or grandmother experienced these scars with pregnancy then you have a greater chance of experiencing them to. Another big indicator is weight gain. If you gain too much weight during your pregnancy or if you gain that weight too quickly you increase your chance of developing these marks.
Other factors that indicate an increased risk of experiencing stretch marks include multiple pregnancies, inadequate hydration, and ethnicity. If you have more than one child you may be more likely to develop stretch marks with each consecutive pregnancy or at least worsen the appearance of the marks you already have. If you do not keep your skin healthy and hydrated it will not be able to stretch as easily or to bounce back as easily as well hydrated skin thus causing the appearance of stretch marks. Finally, the lighter your skin color the more apt you are to develop stretch marks during pregnancy. African American women experience this scarring less frequently and Caucasian women experience them most frequently.
Options for TreatmentAlthough these scars cannot be made to fully disappear, you can take steps to treat the area and reduce the appearance and visibility of the scars. Your first option for this treatment is use of one of the many stretch mark or scar creams sold commercially. These creams, which can be purchased at chemists and many supermarkets, are formulated to educe the appearance of the scar, soften the scar, and aid in reducing discoloration.
If you are searching for a more natural treatment your second option is the application of essential oils and moisturising lotions. For this treatment you will need a high quality commercial lotion that is formulated for intensive hydration and the essentials oils of lavender, comfrey, and echinacea. Simply mix a few drops of each oil into the lotion and apply liberally twice a day.
A third option, the application of vitamin E has been shown to work quite effectively at reducing the appearance of scars, even older scars. Vitamin E is sold in capsules, which can be taken internally as well to speed the healing process. To use, simply pierce the skin of the capsule and squeeze the oil over the area of the scar. Gently rub the liquid into the scar tissue until well absorbed.
For best treatment results no matter which option you choose you need to treat the area at least twice daily. Continue treatment until desired results are achieved.
PreventionAlthough it may sound easier to just prevent these scars from forming than to undertake their treatment this option is not always viable. C-section scars cannot be avoided. If you undergo a c-section you will have a c-section scar. However, you can tale steps towards minimising the scarring by discussing your concerns with your physician before surgery.
As for stretch marks, you cannot totally prevent them but there are things that you can do before they appear that can help reduce their appearance later. The most important thing that you can do to minimise stretch marks is avoid excessive or rapid weight gain during pregnancy. By gaining weight slowly, and controlling the total amount that you gain you can give your skin time to adjust and stretch more slowly. This slow stretching will reduce the amount of collagen separation and make it easier for your skin to return to its natural state once the pregnancy is over.
To further prevent the appearance of large or unsightly stretch marks you should stay well hydrated during your entire pregnancy, moisturise your skin daily with an effective moisturiser, and eat a healthy diet that promotes skin health so your skin can bounce back more readily after childbirth.
Scarring after childbirth does not have to be as horrible or hard to live with, as you may believe. By taking the appropriate steps you can help minimise this scarring and enjoy your still beautiful body as you enjoy taking care of and being with your beautiful newborn.