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Acupuncture and Cesarean Scar Recovery

If you have been pregnant or given birth in the last decade you probably are aware that roughly 1/3rd of babies are born via cesarean birth. As of 2017, the CDC reports 31.9% of births in the United States are cesarean sections. Though it is common and you likely know many other folks with cesarean scars, you may feel a range of emotions and sensations around your birth and its impact on your body. Acupuncture for Cesarean birth recovery sessions with specialized postpartum providers can help you optimize healing and find peace as you move into your next chapter of parenthood.

How does acupuncture help scar healing?

Common cesarean scar issues include local numbness or tingling, keloid scars and adhesions that may cause future issues. Typical healing takes place in the first 6 weeks post surgery.

From a East Asian medicine perspective, cesarean surgery can interrupt the energy flow through a number of channels that cross the abdomen. This can result in a myriad of symptoms such as local scar pain or numbness, pelvic pain, pains with urination and bowel movements, painful periods and postpartum depression.

Acupuncture post cesarean can reinstate the proper qi flow helping to address these symptoms. Gentle acupuncture sessions can bring those channels back online while we also support and nourish your postpartum body and spirit. East Asian medicine (which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine) effectively treats many common women’s health medical concerns that women may experience both postpartum or at any point during their lives.

Treatments with acupuncture for Cesarean recovery will also help to address the visual appearance of the scar reducing thickness and redness over time. Acupuncture causes micro-trauma to the skin which signals to the body that it should send its healing resources in that direction. Needles are very small and generally no pain is felt with our treatments.

During all postpartum acupuncture sessions we will look at the whole body and treat any other issues you may be experiencing such as neck and shoulder tension, hormonal fluctuations, and mood changes.

What modalities are used?

Moxibustion is heat therapy commonly used in East Asian medicine. Post cesarean birth it is used to promote healing and bring warmth back into the lower abdomen. A moxa pole looks like a giant incense stick and it made out of an herb called mugwort. Post cesarean birth we carefully hover the moxa stick over the scar to the point where a warming sensation is felt.

Distal needling at the hands, feet, legs and head helps reinstate the proper qi flow through the major channels that cross the abdomen. Over a series of treatments we will needle each channel at points on either side of the scar getting closer to the scar each session.

Starting at 6 weeks postpartum we recommend a series of treatments with a focus on local scar therapy. Needles are placed around the scar itself in a formation often referred to as “surrounding the dragon”. The number of sessions recommended depends on the scar itself and how thick and hard it is. Many folks experience dramatic changes in pain and numbness after just a few sessions.

When should I come in?

Come in when you are ready. We can start treatment as soon as you are up for coming into the office. We welcome babies in the office at Willow Tree. Many of our patients have found it most helpful to bring a support person (partner, mother, mother-in-law, etc) to take care of baby while you get the treatment. You can rest easy knowing baby is close by and tend to baby if they need you. If you can’t bring a support person we will do the best we can to help you make the most of your treatment!

Depending on how many weeks postpartum you are we will do some combination of moxibustion, distal needling (needles at legs, hands, head) and local needles at the scar itself. 6 weeks or shortly after is the ideal time to start doing local scar therapy to promote healing and reduce adhesions and blockages in the area.

I’ve had a previous cesarean and am hoping for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time, is there anything that will help?

Taking care of yourself post cesarean is not only important for you and your baby but also for future pregnancies! The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports a 60-80% success rate for people attempting a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC). Achieving a VBAC and avoiding repeat surgery lowers risk of blood clots, hemorrhage and infection. Though VBAC rates have not matched the rise in cesarean section the good news is that in 2017 ACOG released new guidelines hoping to make VBAC more accessible.

If you are hoping for a VBAC this pregnancy it is wise to consider using acupuncture for labor preparation. At Willow Tree we recommend a series of treatments beginning at 34 weeks and continuing until delivery. During those sessions we focus on eliminating pain from the lower back and abdomen, optimizing baby’s position and encouraging cervical ripening. A ripe cervix before contractions get going is optimal for a successful VBAC!

Want to know more?

If you have questions about how we can support you postpartum or aide in your cesarean scar recovery, don’t hesitate to book a phone consult or an initial acupuncture session. At Willow Tree we love helping new families find a soft landing in parenthood!

To schedule your first visit please use our online scheduler by clicking this link or call (503) 281-0030

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