If you’ve given birth, are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, you need to know about scar tissue and scar mobilization. Why? Because it can massively impact your birth and recovery.
Whenever I ask women if they had their scars worked on after a C-section or with perineal tears, they often have a blank stare or ask, “was I supposed to do that?!”. Do not fear! It’s never too late to give some much needed TLC to scar tissue.
I have a scar from when I was about 4 years old (making it 23 years old) on the side of my right knee. It’s just over an inch long and I can still feel it pull at times when I squat deeply. Imagine the depth of a C-section scar and all the tissues and nerves it affects along the way – wow!
I’ve recently been learning more and more about scars from birth and the things women can be experiencing from them. I knew I had to bring in a expert to teach me more…to teach US more.
I had the opportunity to interview the extremely knowledge Marjorie Brook. Marjorie has an incredible amount of experience in this area and is going to educate the pants off you with her answers 😉 Seriously though, the information she gives below is incredible. I learned A TON. If you’re pregnant or have had a baby, you’re going to want to read this all the way through (and bookmark it for the future!).
Jessie: Marjorie, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. You have such a wealth of knowledge that myself and my ladies are so excited to hear. Can you explain your background and what you do, please?
Marjorie: It is my pleasure, Jessie. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in Scar Tissue Release and Therapeutic Stretching. I travel all over this beautiful globe teaching health care professionals how to work with scar tissue and incorporate therapeutic stretching into their practices. When I am not on a plane or train you can find me on Long Island, NY working with patients.
My mission is to change the world one scar at a time!
Jessie: Many of the gals reading are pregnant, mums, or want to have babies one day. What should we know about vaginal deliveries and scar tissue in the pelvic floor?
Marjorie: Well Jessie, scarring that affects the pelvic floor can happen as a result of any trauma to the area, including a C-section, perineum tear or episiotomy during childbirth.
Although the skin and tissues around the vagina can stretch to accomodate a baby passing through, many times lacerations occur or an episiotomy is needed resulting in the need for stitches. Hopefully these tears are minor and will heal easily but, more serious tears can occur and those can take longer to heal.
Scar tissue can cause problems within the pelvic floor by interfering with the function of the area where it has adhered. Remember, the pelvic floor contains muscles, nerves, connective tissue that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. They all help the pelvic organs function and the last thing we want is to have them impaired.
Jessie: Often, there are external tears of the perineum from delivery a baby. What types of things can we do to help these tears heal?
Marjorie: There are a number of things that can be done. First, is to get ahead of the problem and try to prevent it from occurring. Such as “perineal massage” while pregnant.
Massage of the perineum alone has been shown to improve the ability of the perineum to have healthier tissues that can respond to the elasticizing hormones of late pregnancy and labor. Midwives have recommended massaging the perineum daily during the last six weeks of pregnancy to help reduce the chances of tearing or having an episiotomy.
Three trials involving more than 2,000 women concluded that prenatal perineal massage reduces the chances of perineal trauma (mainly episiotomies) and ongoing perineal pain. The essential oil “myrrh” is known to improve tissue elasticity and is great for perineal massage.
If the delivery does result in an episiotomy then a postpartum bath such as an herbal sitz bath, especially combined with essential oils, can promote healing and soothing of the perineum, especially after tearing or episiotomy.
The following herbs and essential oils can be used topically to help speed recovery to the perineum following bruising, stretching, and possibly stitching following birth:
• Comfrey – Cell proliferant, vulnerary (great for healing wounds)
• Yarrow – Astringent, antiseptic
• Rosemary – Astringent, antiseptic
• Goldenseal – Antimicrobial, astringent
• Witch hazel – Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, astringent
• Thyme – Antimicrobial, antispasmodic
• Lavender – Antispasmodic, antimicrobial
• Calendula – Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
• Myrrh – Antimicrobial, astringent
• Tea tree Essential Oil – Antiseptic, antimicrobial
• Lavender Essential Oil – Antimicrobial, antispasmodic
• Aloe vera – Vulnerary, antibacterial, analgesic
Jessie: Is there anything additional we should do to help heal the pelvic floor if there were medical interventions used during a vaginal delivery (episiotomy, forceps, vacuum, etc)?
Marjorie: Movement is the best medicine. But, I caution to use some common sense here. I am not talking about getting back into the gym as soon as possible. Your body needs time to heal after such a traumatic event as giving birth.
You have to honor yourself and your body for all it has been through. Slow movements, pelvic tilts, rocking to crawling, yes crawling, walking and stretching to start.
If pain and movement restrictions continue to occur, then I suggest going to see a therapist who understands scar tissue and it’s effects.
Jessie: How does that scar tissue impact how the pelvic floor functions? What type of symptoms might we experience?
Marjorie: If the muscles, nerves, and connective tissue of the pelvic floor are affected by scarring then you may experience perineal pain, referred pain to other areas from trapped nerves, incontinence and painful intercourse.
You may also experience some tightness, dryness, stinging, and burning. If you do suffer for any of these symptoms, please do not be embarrassed. Many suffer in silence and do not share their issues with their doctors or their health care professionals. They are all common and there is no reason to be feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Jessie: C-section rates are rising fast. How should we be caring for the scar in the early days and weeks postpartum?
Marjorie: For women who have recently had a cesarean section, it is very important to receive Lymphatic massage to help facilitate drainage and encourage the collagen to lay down in line with the incision for the first 8-10 weeks after the surgery.
Once you are past the initial healing phase, I would recommend to see a therapist who specializes in scar tissue to help breakdown and limit any further spreading.
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of nutrient rich and essential oils to help heal and decrease scar tissue. These oils can also helps with the healing of wounds, old and new scars, and stretch marks. The essential oil of helichrysum has shown amazing results for skin regeneration and healing.
Jessie: What symptoms might someone be experiencing who had a C-section and needs some mobilization done to the scar tissue?
Marjorie: C-section scars are typically located in an area where they can entrap nerves causing pain to the urethra and clitoris, and urgency or frequency to urinate. The incision is also right over the area where the round ligament crosses the pelvic brim.
This ligament attaches from the sides of the uterus to the labia and can be caught up in scar tissue. If this happens, a woman can experience labial pain, especially with transitional movements like going from a seated position to a standing position. It’s important to remember that the pain and dysfunction caused by a scar is not always going to be in the area where the scar is located.
If not treated scar tissue from a c- section can spread in multiple directions, attaching to the pubic symphosis, the hip flexors, straight through to the vertebra & muscles of the back restricting movement and causing pain. It can also travel up towards the diaphragm and inhibit breathing.
Jessie: What if someone had a C-section years ago? Should they still be working on those tissues?
Marjorie: Most definitely! I have worked on scar as old as 60 years.
Jessie: What type of health professional should we be looking for in our area to teach us how to do scar mobilization on ourselves?
Marjorie: Massage and physical therapists, and nurses who are trained in working with scar tissue. I would also look for a trainer who understands how to properly rehab a woman who has given birth.
Jessie: Where can people find you?
Marjorie: You can find out more about myself and the work I do by visiting my website www.marjoriebrook.com .
Incredible information. Huge thanks to Marjorie for sharing her insights with us. Remember, it’s never too late to work on those scars and tissues. I’d encourage you to read more from Marjorie at the links above and get started today!