The Childbirth Connection reports that in 2010 and 2011, 32.8 percent of women gave birth by cesarean section. That’s about one in three births. Chances are some of those women are your massage clients. But just because they’ve had a C-section, there’s no reason to forgo massage; in fact, there are some good reasons for these new moms to continue experiencing the joys of massage after their baby arrives.
During a C-section, scar tissue develops and may attach to the fascia, abdomen, colon, ovary, between the woman’s bladder and uterus or in front of her sacrum. These adhesions often cause pain, especially in the back and pelvic areas. The scar tissue tightens the ligaments around these organs and inhibits movement. The result could be back discomfort, painful intercourse or, worse, infertility. It’s important to prevent serious scarring from taking place, so as soon as the doctor clears your client, you should begin massage to minimize scarring and reduce the incidence of pain.
At your client’s first post C-section visit, remember that she has undergone major surgery as well as a significant life change. Her emotional status may be fragile and her belly most certainly will be tender. The best approach is to begin with gentle strokes, concentrating on the area around the scar rather than directly over it. Using the pads of your fingers, touch the skin lightly to assess how pliable it is. Then carefully work up and down, side to side, pulling slightly against any resistance. Stretching the skin delicately makes it suppler.
With each subsequent visit, you’ll be able to reach deeper into the abdomen. As you work, if tissue seems to resist, hold the area until it releases. Be sure to cover the entire abdomen down to the pubic bone. By releasing the tightness in these areas, you’ll help to increase blood flow, which promotes healing. The gentle massaging motion will aid in softening the tissue and reducing the size of the scar. If you use some type of oil during the massage, it will enhance the experience and make it easier for you to work the tissue. Be sure to ask your client questions throughout the massage. Her feedback will help you adjust your pressure as you move from area to area.
Eventually, you’ll be able to reach deeper into the muscle to facilitate the healing process and restore pliability to the tissue. It may take several months, or even a year, to bring your client’s body back to her prepregnancy state, so don’t give up–and be sure to encourage her to be patient as well.
Regular massage post C-section delivery can help restore a new mom’s body to its prepregnancy state, while relieving the physical pain of childbirth and the psychological stress of caring for a newborn. Not only will your client derive all the usual benefits–relaxation, enhanced circulation, detoxification and more–but you will be an important part of helping her enjoy motherhood, minus the pain and discomfort that comes with post-C-section scarring.