Q: What happens during a C section? (with a lot of help form the NHS website) A: You lie down on an operating table, which may be slightly tilted to begin with. You’ll be given the anaesthetic in the operating room. This will usually be a spinal or epidural anaesthetic which numbs the lower part of your body while you remain awake. This means you’ll be awake during the delivery and can see and hold your…
Many women who come to see me in clinic will report that sex has been painful when they tried it again after having their c section (often when it had never been painful before being pregnant). So if this is you, rest assured it is a common one, but the good news is there are lots of things you can do to improve things.
Why can sex be painful post C section?
There is no one definitive answer but i have some theories if you would like to check them out?
Vaginal dryness– after having a baby and especially if breastfeeding, the body is lower in Oestrogen. One of the roles of oestrogen is to keep our vagina more robust and moist! So vaginal dryness and atrophy (slightly shrunken vaginal tissues) is common whilst postnatal/breastfeeding and therefore sex can be more uncomfortable and sensitive. There are some really decent lubricants out there which can help with this alot. Links are below.
Protective guarding– Many women are concerned about their C scar and will adopt a protective “tensioning” of the abdominals and pelvic floor without realising. This tension/holding pattern will lead to a tightened, shorted pelvic floor. A pelvic floor that does`nt know how to relax anymore will make sex more uncomfortable, especially when trying to achieve penetration. So try massaging your tummy and your scar (see previous C section series post on this) as this can have a good knock-on effect for your pelvic floor to relax.
Breath holding- It also common to breath hold/breathe more shallowly after having a baby. The baby was high up under our diaphragm and our tummies were on a constant stretch, so sometimes we forget that we can re-claim that belly and breath deeply again. The diaphragm and the pelvic floor work together so if we don`t practice belly breathing now and again then our diaphragm is`nt going through its full range of movement and this can make the pelvic floor tight. So practice belly breathing – then try it during sex and see if it helps!
I think Postnatal Yoga is a great way to tick the breathing, stretching and pelvic floor relaxation boxes and this can usually be started between 6-12 weeks post c section.
Links to Lubes!
This one is compatible with latex.
This one is not compatible with latex, also great to use a a daily moisturiser
As part of the C section series, i asked Cecile (a remedial massage therapist @Fixlondon) some questions. Cecile has training and experience in scar massage/myofascial release and loves to help women post C section.
Q: What should a scar feel like several weeks after a C section?
A:The time it takes for a C section scar to heal varies from woman to woman.
The healing process can last anything between 6 weeks and 3 months and in this time you`re likely to experience all kinds of sensations. Sore and bruisey for a few days and weeks, it might also come with itchiness, numbness, tingliness, a sensation of restriction or pull.
It is not unusual for the numbness to last a few months depending on the type of c section technique the surgeon used. Some scars are quite flat, some are a little raised. It might feel lumpy, hard or solid. Each will be different. Most C section scars eventually heal into a faint line just above the pubic hair line.
Please note that in the first few weeks you should contact your midwife or GP straightaway if you develop a high temperature, if your wound becomes red swollen, painful or has a discharge, or if you feel generally unwell (presenting with an upset stomach for example).