I am sure there are many methods that can be applied to performing the C- section massage, but here is how I do it and has worked for me and my past clients.
Start by using any oil/cream you may have. I personally liked using Rosehip oil, it is said to be great for nourishing the skin, improving texture and tone, plus its supposed to help stretch marks! Tropic, Tamanu Healing Balm is also great on any scars.
WHOLE TUMMY MASSAGE
Start by massaging your entire stomach in a clockwise direction. This will get you feeling comfortable with touching your skin and bringing connection to your brain. Moving in a clockwise direction can help improve digestion and often this is quite slow post surgery due to not moving as much. Once you feel comfortable with this try and move closer and closer to the scar until you feel comfortable touching the scar. Sometimes I have ladies just hold their whole palm of hand over their scar and breathe. The massage is meant to be healing, restful and relaxing. If at any point you become stressed or emotional, please stop and visit it another day to give it another try.
SIDE TO SIDE - LEFT TO RIGHT AND RIGHT TO LEFT
you may or may not be ready to touch your scar but you can do this as close to your scar as possible and for those who are comfortable, you can perform this on the scar. Starting from the left side of your scar, press lightly down into your skin and drag your finger all the way to the right side of the scar. Repeat this movement 5-10 times. Then reverse this movement and do it from right to left 5-10 times.
**notice how the scar feels, all of it lumpy, parts of it lumpy, the ends feel restricted etc. As you progress your massage and touch do you feel this improving**
PRESS AND PULL
Starting just above the scar moving from left to right again, press lightly down and drag your fingers towards your belly button. Lift off and move a little to the right along the scar, press down and pull upwards towards your belly button. Keep repeating this until you reach the end of your scar on one side and then do it all the way back to the starting side.
DIAGONAL PRESS AND PULL
Similar to the above but starting on the scar press lightly down and on a diagonal pull upwards, using your other hand to anchor below the scar and pull slightly downwards. Repeat along the scar from left to right and then back from right to left.
Performing mini circles with your index and middle finger, moving from left to right and right to left again. Press firmly without causing pain. If you don't feel comfortable doing this on the scar do it above and below the scar until you find it easier to do it on the scar.
COMPRESS AND TWIST
In order to do this you do need a smooth lacrosse type massage ball. Like a spikey massage ball but smooth. Press it down onto the scar and gently twist, move along the scar (or as close to it as possible) from left to right and right to left. I also like doing this in a clockwise direction around my whole stomach as can aid digestion and reduce stiffness and tightness in other areas that may be affected by the surgery indirectly.
I CANT TOUCH MY SCAR OR TUMMY!
Often a C section can be a very traumatic experience if it was not planned. This causes us to disconnect from this area due to the event being too overwhelming. This is out body's way of coping with a stressful and traumatic time. It's a very natural part of coping with trauma. Being unable to touch or look at your scar may mean your body is dealing with some trauma from the event and you may need to seek professional support and help to unlock and let go of the trauma so that you can focus on self healing and self care.
I found this amazing visual video on you tube by Naturally Nurtured Birth Services and found this to be so great in understanding the depth of the incision. It really shows that it's not just the outside layer (skin) that has been cut. Watching this, I hope will give you a deeper understanding of why taking your time to recovery properly is important and how the holistic approach to c section recovery is vital to greater healing in the long term.
Here is an outline of the layers that a Cesarean Section cuts through.
Initial cuts (and the visible scar) are horizontal through:
Then the incisions are made vertically through:
Until you reach the baby.
You see, it’s really important to remember that whilst all we see as a lasting reminder of the Cesarean Section might be the most superficial incision at the skin level, it is really an elaborate corset of suturing, enabling all these layers to knit back together and heal. So it is not just the most superficial scar that needs to be included in the massage.
Often as a result of the C section, we can experience pain and tenderness in areas other than the scar itself. It is important to note that whilst massage can help in the manner in which scars develop and heal it will NOT prevent them from being visible. What is more important to understand are the lasting benefits that massage can help with beneath the scar.
If you experience any of the following then you need to start massaging your scar and surrounding areas;
pain during sex
clitoral and/or labial pain
feeling like you need to go to wee A LOT
numbness or tenderness around the scar
lumpy or hard spots over/around the scar
feeling of tightness or rigidity around the scar
pelvic pain, lower back pain, pain in the groin
you can’t feel your abdominals doing work!
struggling with infertility after a previous C-section
digestive troubles, IBS
It is important to remember that each mother is different therefore the healing process is very individual. The progress also depends on the degree of trauma she has suffered and the skill of the person carrying out the suturing. As a general guideline, it will take approximately 6-8 weeks for an incision to heal.
Once you have been given the all clear from your GP or midwife you can start gently massaging your stomach starting as far away from your scar as possible and working closer and closer as you begin to feel more comfortable. There is not pressure to start touching your scar immediately, go slow, take your time. Please also note, if you have had a c section a long time ago, it is never too late to start massaging your scar, breaking down those adhesion and helping your body restore its strength.