I knew as early as 20 weeks pregnant that I would need a C-section to deliver my daughter safely, and it ended up being a blessing in more ways than one. Not only did it give me plenty of time to wrap my head around the idea, it also gave me space to research the afterwards part.
That was how I learned just how important C-section scar massage can be.
Why is C-section scar massage important?
The list of physical benefits is long, and include increasing blood flow to the area, which is good for healing, and managing swelling.
Massaging on the outside can also help prevent scar tissue from growing in the wrong places underneath the skin, reduce muscle restriction and improve feelings of itchiness and numbness. I had no idea about the last one, and I’m glad I was forewarned. Although they’re totally normal, numb patches do feel pretty weird at first!
But it’s not just about the physical improvements either. The scar was going to become a permanent part of my body, and I really didn’t want to have negative feelings towards it.
So, once my scar was externally healed, and I’d waited the necessary six weeks, I reached for the shower oil I’d used in pregnancy and… stopped. The smell, which had been perfectly bearable before, now made me cringe.
I turned to the only other shower oil I had to hand: a little sample-size bottle from L’Occitane.
My verdict: L’Occitane’s Shea Shower Oil
Ingredients: Grape seed oil, shea butter
Why the L’Occitane shower oil makes massage more efficient
L’Occitane’s Shea Shower Oil is made from 10% Shea butter and has a really satisfying formula that transforms the oil to a creamy foam when mixed with water. This was key to its success for massaging in the shower or bath, because it didn’t immediately run off my skin and down the drain like other oils likely would. This gave me time to actually massage without rushing or needing to pause to apply more. It also didn’t make the bottom of my shower slippy, which my sleep-deprived-self appreciated!
On top of all that, it left my skin feeling well moisturised but not sticky, so I didn’t have to faff around finding a safe moisturiser to use too. As for the scent, it was neither overbearing nor clinical smelling, which I loved.
The combination of the massage and the moisture meant that the area was very rarely itchy or tight-feeling, which was such a blessing when I had enough other stuff to be thinking about!
Why the shower or bath might be the best place to massage your scar
I also found that doing my C-section massage in the shower made the whole process so much easier to find time for. The shower oil was right there, reminding me, and as I was already in the shower, it wasn’t hard to justify taking the time! If I wanted to do a longer, 10-minute session, the bath was ideal.
It’s also worth remembering that it doesn’t matter if your C-section was months or even years ago. There is still value in working with your scar even years down the line, and you can still reap some of the benefits. Any amount of massage can be valuable and make a difference.
How to massage your C-section scar with the L’Occitane shower oil
I reached out to Hannah Poulton, a UK leader in C-section scarring and owner of HLP Therapy, to get some expert advice. She told me that it’s super-important to start scar message “only when you’re ready”.
“Within the first four weeks, focus on just ‘engaging’ with your scar. That can simply mean looking at it, or if this is too much, you could use a mirror instead. When you’re ready, you can practise very gentle pelvic floor work, taking slow deep breaths and lightly sweep your hands over your tummy.”
“At four-to-six weeks, as long as the scar is fully closed over, with no openings, infections, or stitches present, you can begin light scar massage.
“This might be sliding your fingers back and forth, using circular motions, and moving your finger up and down across the scar in a north and south direction, section by section. It may feel sensitive at first but you can build up the time on a daily basis. Be gentle with yourself in every way,” she adds. “You and your body have been through a lot. Take your time and treat yourself with kindness.”
How much is the L’Occitane shower oil?
L’Occitane’s Shea Shower Oil is available in three sizes, so you can try it for £7 in the 75ml version and then invest in a 250ml version for £19.50. There’s also a 500ml version for £32, and handily, it’s available in an eco-refill.
18 months after my own C-section, I had an ultrasound on my own scar, and it showed that it had healed perfectly underneath. I still get a little overhang now, if I’ve been doing a lot of activity that day, but my numbness has reduced and the scar itself is never uncomfortable.
Of course, it’s impossible to know how much my massaging it helped, but I know for a fact that engaging with it daily in those early months took away any sense of alienation I might have felt; and that the L’Occitane shower oil made the whole process so much easier.