When giving birth for the first time, some women make a conscious choice to have a c-section while the vast majority of women don’t. They end up wheeled into the operating theatre for an emergency c-section, with a battery of questions running through their minds. Long after the successful completion of the operation, mums continue to wonder what is normal for a c-section scar.
Size and location
How big is considered average or normal for a c-section scar? In most cases, you can expect the scar to be anywhere between 4 to 6 inches long. The incision is made close to your bikini line, horizontally, and don’t worry, it will never show if you decide to wear a cropped top.
In fact, the c-section incision is usually so low that you are likely to be able to rock your bikini without fretting over the scar showing!
It is not normal for a c-section scar to be done vertically, from the belly button down to the pubic bone. This used to be fairly common in the past, but in current times, developed countries never do a c-section vertically unless it involves an emergency or complication. It is extremely rare; so don’t worry too much about it.
Appearance and texture
In the months following your operation, it is normal for a c-section scar to appear red or pink. Don’t worry, that is absolutely not a red flag for inflammation or the like. It is part of the healing process and over time, the colour turns extremely pale. What you will have is a line that is so flat and thin that it’s barely visible.
Unless otherwise someone takes a close look, they are unlikely to notice the scar. The medical world has progressed significantly and compared to say, your mother’s time, the scar is much less of a cosmetic problem now.
However, some women have a tendency to develop keloids, and this may cause the scar to be thicker, or appear bumpy, or slightly raised. Doctors these days prescribe things like collagen creams to reduce the likeliness of this occurring. However, if you are genetically predisposed to forming keloids, then there’s not much you can do to prevent it from occurring.
What happens when it stretches?
This is a question that many mums have long after their c-section. They plan to have more children and then fear what is normal for a c-section scar during a pregnancy, when it stretches.
A c-section scar generally doesn’t itch, burn or hurt once it has recovered. However, be prepared for it to itch when you are pregnant. In fact, many women have complained of a burning or itching sensation around their c-section scar as early as 6 weeks into the pregnancy.
Let me reassure you that it is normal for a c-section scar to itch during pregnancy. It is understandable that you might feel alarmed and imagine that your stitches will rupture and you continue to imagine the worst.
The real danger with c-sections and subsequent pregnancies is the internal healing. Especially if you have not given your body sufficient time to heal, the concern is that your uterine ruptures when you get contractions. To prevent this from happening, when there is a need, gynaecologists will perform an elective c-section before you reach full term.
Will I get a new scar with each pregnancy?
No, in most cases you do not end up with a new scar for each c-section. Some mums like to call it the ‘zipper’. So each time you have a baby, the zip is re-opened, then concealed in the same place. No one can tell how many times that zip was opened. It is normal for a c-section scar to undergo several rounds of ‘reopening’.
Sensation around the scar?
Don’t be alarmed. It is normal for a c-section scar and the muscles around it to be numb. For some mums, the sensations return after a few months and for some, the numbness becomes permanent. It’s just one of those things that happen, so just take it as it comes.
We asked a number of mums what their recovery was like, and most of them commented that after the initial healing process, they didn’t even remember the existence of the scar until the next pregnancy.
Some complain of occasional itching or irritation, but only mildly. Others mentioned that even after a few months, at times, they feel a little bit of pain when doing strenuous exercise, lifting heavy objects or ascending stairs.
In some rare cases, the pain lasts for years. I have a friend whose mum still feels itching, (and it’s more than mild) 32 years after her last c-sect. But do bear in mind that things were different in the past.
On a concluding note, let me reassure you that c-sects are extremely common. Approximately 3 out of 10 pregnancies in Singapore end up in c-sects and c-sects are considered the most common surgery in the United States. Most of the time, the healing and recovery turn out fine.
Take it from me as well. Having gone through 4 c-sections in the past 5 years, I’m up on my feet and I feel perfectly fine. No scar is getting in the way of me living my life to the fullest so don’t you worry your pretty little head over what’s normal for a c-section scar, mama!