GUEST BLOG: I’ve Been Cut Open, Now What? Caesarian Birth Recovery and the Importance of Self-Massage

GUEST BLOG: I’ve Been Cut Open, Now What? Caesarian Birth Recovery and the Importance of Self-Massage


By Janette Yee, Perinatal Therapist


It’s Day 5 with your new baby. You’re getting the hang of nursing, swaddling, changing diapers…But what about that big Caesarian incision right in the middle of your abdominals? What do you do about THAT?

In Ontario, most public perinatal care after a Caesarian birth is focused on infection prevention and external wound closure. HOW a birth parent is supposed to recover from this major abdominal surgery and return to pain-free living and fitness is generally not addressed.

So, let me tell you about something called “Caesarian birth self-massage”. This is the mobilization of your abdominal tissues, by YOU, with techniques appropriate to your stage of healing, with the purpose of minimizing scar tissue and adhesions.

In plain language, massaging your scar has been shown to:

  • Decrease abdominal pain
  • Improve the way your incision and abdominals look 
  • Prevent future injury when returning to activity and fitness
  • Affect pelvic floor function, including painful sex
  • Impact function of reproductive and digestive systems

The ideal window to perform self-massage techniques is 0-6 months postpartum. During this window, the scar tissue that holds your incisions together is pliable and capable of remodelling. Therefore, different techniques are appropriate depending on how much healing has occurred.

For example, did you know that Caesarian-birth incision healing can be treated as early as 0-6 weeks postpartum? While you wouldn’t directly massage the incision, there are quite a few indirect techniques that can be used to manage pain, swelling, and begin to optimize scar tissue formation. These include:

  1. Relearning proper spinal alignment
  2. Belly breathing
  3. Relearning transverse abdominis control combined with the above
  4. Abdominal desensitization techniques to decrease fear and apprehension with touching your incision

After 6 weeks postpartum, direct self-massage can begin as soon as your physician gives you the green light. Gentle, superficial techniques are introduced first; they are gradually progressed to affect deeper tissues and neighbouring body parts. If you can learn these different techniques plus the appropriate exercises as you heal, your C-birth healing can be optimal.

After the 6 month mark, your incisional scar tissue will be “set”. But worry not! There is still plenty you can do to achieve further mobility for surrounding tissues, and make an impact on your pain even years after your C-birth. See your perinatal therapist and get an individualized strategy. 

The “Caesarian Birth Self-Care” online course begins again on November 11, 2020. This 4-week live course provides you with a robust foundation for self-massage techniques and exercise from 0-6 months post C-birth. Live Q&A is included, as are recordings of each lesson. Use the Early Bird code VITAL50 for $50 off the full cost of $197*

For more information, click here:

*This course may be covered by your extended healthcare. Check your coverage for Athletic Therapy benefits.

Janette Yee, CAT(C), RMT

Passionate Perinatal Therapist. Mom of two. Former competitive runner & rugby player. Public perinatal health care is substandard. I’m making it better.

Instagram @askjanette


Tamar Lyons
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