Like most new moms I've talked to, I was hoping to avoid a C-section delivery if I could. But 18 hours after my water broke, and despite powerful contractions, I'd only dilated five centimeters and my baby was showing signs of distress. So my first birth wound up in an emergency C-section. As a nurse "prepped the area" (aka shaved my fancy bits I remember thinking "This is going to leave a mark." For many, the possibility of not just a C-section but a scar is scary. So I asked moms to talk about their C-section scar, because newbies should be prepared for the possibility. Plus, some of us just need space to talk about something that isn't often discussed.
Despite things not going as desired, I had a wonderful birth experience and I'm happy to have a permanent reminder of the day I met my son. In fact, I love my C-section scar. Even though I can barely see it anymore (it's been seven years, but honestly it was well on its way to invisibility pretty early on) I can feel it below the skin — a thin divet in the muscle when I press down. Knowing it's there is a source of fond memories and pride for me, and while it's barely visible my scar is not something I feel like I should hide.
But my experience isn't universal. I had a good birth experience, a relatively easy recovery ("relatively" being an important qualifier, since all C-section recoveries require time and effort), and no lingering side effects from the surgery. So with that in mind, here's how some other C-section mamas feel about their "bonus birth souvenir."
"I was so scared to look at mine at first. It took a month or two until I was brave enough. When I did it was just kinda like, 'Oh, that’s it?' I can’t even remember the last time I thought about the scar."
"Three and a half years since my C-section. I’m still pretty numb right on the scar, but it’s faded and hardly noticeable. I’m overweight so the belly overhang hides it. It doesn’t make me feel any type of way and knowing it was the only way to get my daughter out into the world safely makes it completely worth it. I’ll be having another C-section at the end of October, so hopefully the scar will fade nicely again."
"With my first C-section the scar was barely seen. It was so light. With my second C-section I felt like it got lumpier in spots, I had more numbness, and it took longer for the scar to be invisible. I can still see parts cause of the scar tissue. Plus, it made me insecure because I had adhesions which makes my scar attach to my abdominal wall and cause that 'apron' look."
"Honestly, before my C-section I was worried that I would have this hideous scar. I have a major scar on my arm that always gets attention and it makes me a bit insecure. After having my son, I felt embarrassed for even worrying about something so ridiculous. At that point, the only thing I was truly afraid of is that it would re-open or get infected. I cringe at the thought of what may have happened to myself and/or my son if we didn’t have the ability to have a C-section. Now when I look at it, I’m pleasantly surprised that it is so thin and faded! Even if it weren’t, I feel proud of it and consider it a beautiful reminder of how lucky I am to have my son."
"At first I was terrified to look at it. It was my first time getting stitches and I had this fear that they were going to burst open. It's been almost three years now and it has faded a lot. Now I'm proud of my scar, because of the surgery I have my beautiful daughter and at the end of the day that's all that matters. It's a part of me and who I am. I'm going in for another C-section in six days and I asked my doctor if she could use the same incision and make it as small as possible, so let's see how I feel second time around."
"I’m three and a half years out. Mine was an emergency C-section due to cord prolapse. They pretty much slashed and grabbed Twin A as soon as I went under. It’s huge, lopsided, and not pretty. There are some areas where it looks like it was stapled together tighter than others. It’s still numb in places, and other areas can be really sensitive if I wear the wrong underwear. But both my boys are alive and well today, so it’s worth it."
"Three C-sections, two different doctors. My most recent section was one year ago and the new doctor cut out my other two scars so now I just have the one. I don't know how he cut me different than the other doctor but I have so much more feeling with this scar than the other two. My kids play with it, I like it."
"I had two [C-sections] in 15 months, so mine is a bit of a train wreck. The scar itself throbs if I exercise too vigorously or in certain types of cold weather. It's numb all the time. I can put up with that, but the mothers apron (saggy stretched skin folding down over it) has been an emotional challenge to get used to. When I know I'm done with babies I'm going to get it removed. I don't have anything but pride for the scar itself — my babies got here safely and that's all that matters."
"I’ve had two planned C-sections (my last was three years ago) and am probably done having kids. I honestly can barely even see my scar now — it’s faded and well below my hipbones. I healed really well! When it was fresh, though, it was jarring to look at — red, a bit puffy in the corners — I felt like I had been in a superhero battle and had been hit by a rival’s laser sword!"
"I've had two C-sections. After the first I had no feeling in the area where the scar was, but it was barely noticeable. After my second it's a little bigger, I have most of the feeling back, and it's smooth and still hardly noticeable. I don't mind it at all, and it's almost comforting to me. I can touch it and think, 'This is how my babies were born.'"
"My post-pregnancy belly is so saggy that it covers the scar completely. I forget the scar is there."
"I am 27 months past my third (and last) C-section. My scar is so faded and small I can barely see it. I have no numbness or any issues I’ve heard others can have, so I feel very lucky. All of my cesareans were absolutely beautiful experiences, so I have only love for my body (and scar) now."
"I had an unplanned C-section after three hours of pushing. It was hard to look at the incision at first, and all I could think of was the pain my whole body was in at the time from laboring and pushing for that long. Now, I look at it and thank the heavens that this type of surgery is available, because if it wasn’t my daughter and I would not have made it. The scar has faded, but it’s still there, and it reminds me every day of the time my little girl spent in my womb, and will forever be a connection between us."
"I’ve just recently got feeling back after almost seven years. The scar creates this barrier so all my mommy pooch is on a 'shelf' that I call the C-section shelf. No matter how thin you are you have that little shelf!"
"So I just had my second C-section three months ago. I’ve got quite a sizable pooch/overhang, so the scar isn’t currently visible, but it’s hardly noticeable! As far as how it feels, I’ve got serious numbness in a huge section of my stomach under my belly button. I hate it. It feels so weird and uncomfortable when anything touches it. I’ve read some people get feeling back after a few years, but I’m not holding my breath. [But] I’d do it all over again! So worth it for my big (both over 9-pounds) babies!"
"I’m completely numb. With my third child I was scheduled for my third C-section, which was literally just days after my second’s first birthday (I don’t recommend this). I had coughed/vomited myself into breaking my water and going into labor and five days before my scheduled surgery which, for me, is an emergency situation. Because I went into labor, my uterine lining started to rupture. So after my littlest was born they had to do extra work to put me back together, including removing a ton of scar tissue and a minor tummy tuck. My stomach was totally wrecked and short of plastic surgery to fix it all up, it will be impossible to have a flat stomach again, which is a source of frustration. I know some women look at their battle scars with a sense of pride but I had such difficult pregnancies that I never got to enjoy the experience. I have three beautiful kids that more than made up for it, but mostly I try to not think about my scar because it doesn’t exactly elicit joyous memories for me."
"It is a daily reminder of what I went through to have my children, as I can feel it pull a little — twinge, tickle, ache — if I sit too long, move the wrong way (or just move really), if I gain some weight, etc. I actually noticed the other day that part of the scar was quite faded, and it made me sad. I was caught off guard by my sadness, as it's a scar! However, it's my scar, and it showed me how strong I am and how much I went through. That scar caused me so much pain after my first; I couldn't walk for weeks and it took a few years before I could put myself into the fetal position without pain. After my first the scar looked like a happy face, but from my view, looking down, it was a sad face. After my second C-section, my OB cleaned up my previous scar and it looked better and felt better. As much as a scar shouldn't define my existence and power, it still tells a story and it reminds me of my strength and love."