Fertility health continues to be a concern for many women after giving birth via cesarean section or c-section. We wanted to share with you common concerns about fertility and future pregnancy after having a c-section, and how to address them.
1. Q. After a long battle with infertility, I had a healthy baby boy last month. Unfortunately, the birth was complicated and I ended up needing an emergency C-section. Can you offer any suggestions to help my scar heal better and faster? Is there anything I can do to avoid another C-section in the future?
A. Congratulations for your hard work on your journey and on your baby! A scar from an emergency C-section incision definitely takes time to heal. A C-section is major surgery, but you will recover and get back to your vibrant self.
Further, there are natural ways to encourage the healing process. Here are a few ideas:
- Eat a whole foods diet. Stick to a largely plant based diet. Include plenty of fresh foods, healthy proteins (you need protein to heal), essential fats, fiber, and whole grains. Your body will heal faster if it isn’t bogged down with unhealthy or processed foods.
- Supplement with Vitamin C. Vitamin C supports proper collagen development, encourages healthy immune response, and can play a role in natural recovery. 2000-3000 mg daily with bioflavonoids for 1-2 months is a good dose. Foods high in vitamin C include: bell peppers, leafy greens, papaya, citrus fruits, broccoli, and berries.
- Learn about herbs to support healthy skin. Consider trying a Calendula cream or ointment on your scar. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is helpful to soothe swelling, and has antimicrobial activity to help protect against irritation or infection. Tamanu oil is another popular choice. Research finds tamanu oil can promote the formation of new tissue (called cicatrization), and may even help reduce old scars!
- Consider Systemic Enzyme Therapy. Systemic Enzyme Therapy is known to help support the natural recovery process in many ways.
Note: Be gentle with any massage or pressure after a C-section. Your body needs time to recover. It may be 1-2 months before your body is ready to resume any type of abdominal massage, including Self-Fertility Massage. Signs you are ready to resume massage therapy:
– Your skin is completely healed.
– You’re feeling well and have no pain with movement.
Regarding avoiding another C-section, I would suggest discussing your concerns with your doctor or midwife and asking for their suggestions. There are many physicians today who are experienced in VBACS (vaginal birth after Caesarean section), and can make every effort to ensure you have access to vaginal delivery, if it is possible. VBAC facts is a great place to learn more about VBACS.
2. Q: I had an emergency C-section a few months ago. I was checked out and everything looked fine. Still, I can’t help but wonder if my C-section will have an effect on a future pregnancy. Can you help?
A: I have known and read accounts of women who have had multiple C-sections (Cesarean Section) and gone on to have subsequent healthy, full-term pregnancies. There is no proven indication that having a C-section affects fertility health. Women who have had C-sections are often encouraged to have them again with subsequent pregnancies. Yet, today there is increasing interest in and support for vaginal births after C-section, referred to as VBAC.
Still, fertility itself is normally intact and not threatened by an uncomplicated surgical birth procedure. This being said, there can be potential for adhesions and uterine weakness after a C-section. Remember to give yourself time to heal as you would with any surgical procedure.
Here are a few tips to get started:
- Help the uterus become strong and healthy. This should be your main focus post c-section. We have information about naturally supporting uterine health that may be helpful. Just drinking a simple red raspberry tea is nutritive and gentle for uterine health.
- Consider Systemic Enzyme Therapy and Fertility Massage. Systemic Enzyme Therapy and Fertility Massage are two therapies that support reproductive system health and natural fertility. Systemic enzymes, in particular, support the body’s ability to break down fibrin (the substance that makes up scar tissue), a huge benefit for healthy recovery.
- Resume Exercise. At the very least start walking for 20-30 minutes at a moderate pace 4-5 times a week. Walking is actually one the best exercises for the reproductive organs and can do wonders to relax stress. Fertility yoga is another therapeutic choice that can improve strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the uterus.
- Take time to honor your experience. A C-section is a birth. Honor how strong the body is able to be and the experience like any birth. Use positive affirmations to help you stay encouraged as you heal. A few examples: I am healthy. I am healing. I am whole and nourished. A positive mind-body connection can help speed your recovery process.
- Concerned about your fertility? Talk about it. It’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider or midwife about your concerns. He/she will also be able to share with you how long they think will be best for you to wait before trying to conceive again.
- Oil of Tamanu. (2010-2013). Retrieved from: http://www.medicinehunter.com/tamanu
- Calendula: A Wound Healing Herb. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.advancedtissue.com/calendula-wound-healing-herb/