Adhesions After A C-Section

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You’ve just come out from having a caesarean. You’re happy that your scar is healing well, and you seem to be on the mend after some fairly major surgery. But have you had a general undiagnosed pain in your abdomen even years after having a caesarean? Something that no one really does tell you about is future complications. About adhesions after a c-section.

adhesions after a c-section

Adhesions After a C-Section

For me, the first three weeks after having a C-section were actually far better than I had expected. I’d had to stay in hospital for 5 nights, by which time I felt that I had really started to heal. My scar seemed to be settling well, I started to be able to stand upright again and I was regaining good mobility. I put this down to staying quite active after the operation. Of course, because of the surgery, sitting up was hard from being laid flat, but I was coping well. And then about a month after having Elizabeth I started to have some real problems.

The first thing that I noticed was that I had some real problems after eating. Straight away after eating my abdomen would swell up and be really painful. It felt like something was really pulling inside. And heaven forbid I ate anything spicy! My stomach would end up like a balloon.

At the same time I had a real back pain. But the pain would also be much worse if my stomach was painful. And my pelvis was really aching. Now, when I had been pregnant I had definitely had pelvic pain in late pregnancy (as the pelvis ligaments start to soften in late pregnancy it is common to have pelvic pain) so I just considered all this to be a side effect of my body trying to get back to normal. But after almost 3 months I went to see my doctor.

Which didn’t really help.

He referred me to a physiotherapist, which was useful for the back pain, but didn’t quite address the abdominal swelling or the pain after eating.

About 4 times I visited my GP, each time saying how bad my stomach pain was and how I swelled up with food.  I ate a FODMAP, gluten free and dairy free diet but to no avail. Even started eating bran fibre. I stopped caffeine, fruit and fizzy drinks. Nothing changed. The doctors prescribed buscopan and peppermint capsules, telling me that I had developed irritable bowel syndrome after being pregnant.  The tablets helped, but not much.

I went back to work after a 6 month maternity leave, and occasionally I would be doubled up in pain at work. The pain after eating was still there and occasionally it was unbearable.

I was also hoping to try again for another baby with my partner, but intercourse was painful and I would swell up afterwards. It would cause an awful lot of pain and so we stopped trying.

I Was Really Worried.

The most concerning thing for me was the worry that it was something more serious. It may sound melodramatic, but I lost my Dad to bowel cancer when I was in my early 20s. He was only 61. What if this was something more serious? I pushed my GP for a second opinion and thankfully a bowel cancer screening test came back negative. They also referred me to a gastrointestinal consultant.

By this time a good 9 months had gone past. I was at work, but pretty much living with constant daily pain. It would have been great to say that I was losing weight due to all this, but I wasn’t. I was so upset on one GP appointment that she declared that I was suffering from post natal depression and gave me antidepressants! She actually thought that they would help with the pain. Unfortunately they didn’t really.

Scans

After just over a year I was seen for an MRI scan at a local hospital. The consultant examined the images, again reassured me that it was nothing serious. He told me that he thought I was suffering with adhesions after a c-section. Until that point NO-ONE had mentioned adhesions!

Strangely enough, a friend of mine was also having some real issues. Like me, she had real bowel problems, with IBS symptoms that did not resolve with any treatments. She also had many endometriosis symptoms, and was finally going to have an operation to investigate the cause. She had been having these symptoms since she had had a caesarean a number of years previously.

When they investigated her pelvic floor in keyhole surgery they found lots of scar tissue which they attributed to her caesarean years before. They warned her that it may affect her future fertility. It was also possible that these adhesions to her bowel could cause a bowel obstruction or tear. Finally they told her that these were adhesions after a c-section, when no doctor had ever even mentioned this as a possible cause of all her troubles.

Sadly, I was also warned that there was no way to remove any adhesions. If you try and remove the scar tissue with surgery, it just creates a further problem as more scar tissue comes to bind the area even more.

So? How do you know that you may have adhesions after a c-section?

The following symptoms can arise with adhesions after a c-section.

  • Acute pain on moving that may even be sharp and stabbing. Trouble standing up straight.
  • Chronic pain – sometimes non-diagnosable pain even years after having a caesarean.
  • A swollen or bloated abdomen
  • Pain during intercourse – or pain and swelling of the abdomen afterwards
  • Pelvic pain
  • Painful Bowel Movements
  • Constipation or IBS symptoms
  • Increased pain when menstruating.
  • A painful scar

Recent research has stated that you are more likely to have adhesions if your scar is

  • raised,
  • indented (i.e. you can see the scar pulling if you lay down) or
  • dark in colour.

I will say however that my scar is none of these.

Almost 3 years on and I still do suffer occasionally with abdominal swelling. I also occasionally suffer after eating spicy food, though not to the extent that I did that first year. After about 18 months I found that the swelling and pain became far less frequent, and whilst they haven’t completely stopped, they do not affect me day to day like back then.

My cure has been time. But I still would advise you try the IBS medications if that is your main symptom. I do still occasionally self prescribe buscopan and peppermint oil capsules / tablets if I do have abdominal pain. I would also say do go see your GP – as always I’m not a medic, so obviously their expertise is far greater. And every case is different.

So – do you have any of these symptoms of adhesions after a c-section? I would love to hear your stories. Do comment below. Or connect with me on social media.

Adhesions after a c-section

Enjoyed this? Why not read  My Birth Story?

or other tips for getting over  a caesarean in Post C-Section Tips

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22 Replies to “Adhesions After A C-Section”

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Karen. Part of me wishes that I’d had a natural birth, but it wasn’t to be unfortunately.

      Reply
  1. Cheryl | TimeToCraft says:

    Never heard of this before. My first was an emergency C-section, ruling out my planned home birth. I was so stubborn that I was back home within 24hours of the operation. I can now see I was very lucky to have no complications. Hope that time continues to help you. #MMBC

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Glad that you had no problems after your op, and thank you for reading

      Reply
  2. Penny Bull says:

    I’m sorry this happened to you – but well done for posting and raising awareness for anybody else who may be suffering from the same thing. GPs/hospitals can be so rubbish sometimes it’s genuinely worrying!
    #itsok

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. If someone else reads it and doesn’t have to go through 15 months of misdiagnosis then that’s good enough for me!

      Reply
  3. Unmindfulmama says:

    Such a great post to raise awareness about complications following a C-Section. Both of my births were by emergency C-Section and I was shocked at how little recovery information was given after such major surgery. Most people were only interested in how the scar was healing, but there was very little focus on what was happening ‘underneath’. Thankfully, I didn’t experience the pain from adhesions you describe, but I did have discomfort and numbness from scar tissue, which I only learned how to treat after seeing a women’s health physio. Hopefully, this will change and there will be more understanding of what our bodies go through after this kind of birth and how to support ourselves to heal. #itsok.
    Unmindfulmama recently posted…The small stuff I sweat…My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Yes, it amazed me too. Until the practice midwife was weighing my baby a week after the birth when she commented on how well I was doing considering I’d had such a big op…!

      Reply
  4. MomOfTwoLittleGirls says:

    I’m so sorry you have had to go through this. I’m glad the symptoms have lessened.
    Thanks for linking up to the #itok linky. Hope to see you again next week.

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. It seems it it a pretty common post op complication, but not one that is ever discussed.

      Reply
  5. TheMumConundrum says:

    I’m a three time c section mama so I know the pain of adhesions very well! I have to say, I would never have even considered them to be the cause of my discomfort if it weren’t for the fact that a friend of mine (who had also had sections) had huge problems with them a few years ago. A super-helpful post for post c-section mums struggling with pain in the months after having their babies. thanks for linking up with #ItsOK xx

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      As well as the friend that I mention, since posting this 2 other friends have independently said that they’ve had some of the issues I did after their caesareans. Nobody had told them about this being possibly due to adhesions either. Thank you for reading

      Reply
  6. Alexandra says:

    Wow, this is so intense – I hadn’t heard of these complications, so I appreciate you sharing your story.

    Reply
  7. Kirsty says:

    This post was really interesting to me as I have had to have 3 sections. The first being an emergency. It sounds like I had a lucky run and sorry you have had to experience this. What strikes me is that when I have had this op 3 times no one has ever mentioned this as a possible issue. In fact apart from the threat of infection no one ever mentioned any potential issues to look out for. It is odd you have major surgery and just get packed off with a baby to look after… The same would not happen if you had any other form of abdominal surgery methinks. A subject close to my heart as you can tell. Thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam

    Reply
    1. Jo Boyne says:

      No, it amazes me that they send a lot of women out after just one night! At least I got wound care by being in longer!

      Reply
  8. Crummy Mummy says:

    I didn’t have c-sections with mine BUT I have experienced side effects after birth, things that have never been the same since & cause daily pain. Like you things have got better over time thank goodness! #itsok

    Reply

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