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You’ve just come out from having a caesarean section. 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 maternal complications associated with cesarean delivery. About adhesions after c section.
*This post has been updated, it was first published in October 2018. Also, If you are suffering with any medical condition, I would urge you to go see your medical specialist, obstetrics expert or doctor. I am not a medical expert, and this post is my experiences plus my research on this topic. It does not constitute medical advice.
- Adhesions After a C-Section
- What Are C Section Adhesions? What Causes Adhesions After C-Section?
- How Are C-Section Adhesions Diagnosed? Adhesions After C-section Symptoms
- Does Your C Section Scar Tissue Give Any Indication Of The Adhesions?
- My Own Adhesions After C-Section Experience
- How To Avoid Adhesions After C-Section
- How To Treat C-section Adhesions
- What Are the Long Term C-section Adhesion Complications?
- Do Read Some Of The Comments Below
Adhesions After a C-Section
What Are C Section Adhesions? What Causes Adhesions After C-Section?
An adhesion is scar tissue that has formed after surgery. You can get c section adhesions from a previous cesarean section, or they can occur with any advanced pelvic surgery or abdominal operation. The adhesion formation following cesarean sections joins two internal body surfaces or organs that were not previously connected, or may cause organs to stick to the abdominal wall. This happens as the body heals, and the tissues or organs inside the body adhere to the other organ surface. Adhesions can occur after any surgery, but are most common after abdominal surgery, and abdominal lesions are most likely to cause complications.
Adhesion after c section has been show to happen in 24-73% of cases. Obviously therefore, a c section or multiple repeat cesarean delivery can be one of the big risk factors in adhesion development in pregnant women.
How Are C-Section Adhesions Diagnosed? Adhesions After C-section Symptoms
Do you think you may have abdominal adhesions after c section? Here are the main c-section adhesions symptoms.
- 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 cesarean section.
- 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
- Gas after c section – build up which may cause bloating or pain
Does Your C Section Scar Tissue Give Any Indication Of The Adhesions?
Scar adhesions after c section may give some indication of a problem starting to occur. Recent study research has stated that you are more likely to have adhesions if your c section scar tissue is
- indented (i.e. you can see the scar tissue from c section pulling if you lay down) or
- dark in colour.
Although do be aware that this is not the case with my own incision scar tissue after c section. I have never had any c section scar tissue pain and I have certainly not had multiple cesarean deliveries.
My Own Adhesions After C-Section Experience
For me, the first three weeks after having a C-section were actually far better than I had expected. I’d not had a particularly long delivery time or blood loss, so had no cause to think that my experience was anything other than ordinary.
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 my child I started to have some real problems. Now I can see that these were c-section adhesions symptoms, but at the time I was totally unaware.
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.
Is This C-Section Adhesions Back Pain?
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.
He referred me to a physiotherapist, which was (slightly) 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.
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.
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. But he told me what it probably was.
C-Section Adhesion Complications
He told me that he thought I was suffering with adhesions after a c-section. Until that point NO-ONE had mentioned adhesions c section may have caused!
Strangely enough, a friend of mine was also having some real issues. Like me, she had not had repeat cesarean deliveries, nor had she had any pain where c section scar is. But she started having real bowel problems after the birth of her only child in her 20s.
She had different adhesion symptoms after c section. Her experience of adhesions was abdominal pain years after c section and severe 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 told her that bowel adhesions after c section were quite a common occurence. They also warned her that these dense adhesions may affect her future fertility.
It was also possible that these severe adhesions to her bowel could cause a bowel obstruction or bladder injury / tear. That there is a maternal morbidity associated with severe adhesions. 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.
*Update* – this same friend is still having lots of issues several years after the keyhole surgery…
How To Avoid Adhesions After C-Section
Is there a way to avoid adhesions after c-section treatment? It may not be totally possible. There are exercises that you can start very soon after birth, such as belly breathing. But I would definitely discuss this with your health provider, physio or midwife straight away after your operation.
At the very least I just wanted this article to give people more awareness of how my primary cesarean delivery has led to adhesion pain after c section, that I wish that I had known more about adhesions symptoms after c sections so that I could have avoided all the pain myself.
How To Treat C-section Adhesions
Again, in the first instance I would ask you to go see your medical specialist, obstetrics expert or doctor. I am not a medical expert, and this post is my experiences plus my research on this topic.
Both myself and my friend were told that there was a way how to get rid of internal scar tissue after c-section. But we were warned that the adhesions would probably return. If you try and remove the scar tissue with surgery or laparoscopy, it just creates a further problem as more scar tissue comes to bind the area even more.
I have read about physio exercises that may reduce c-section adhesions pain and symptoms, and other alternative treatments, but cannot vouch for them being successful.
What Are the Long Term C-section Adhesion Complications?
I am still suffering with pain from my c-section adhesions years later. Almost 8 years on I still do suffer occasionally with abdominal bloating. I also occasionally suffer after eating spicy food, though not to the extent that I did that first year.
At the start, after about 18 months I found that the swelling and pain became far less frequent, and whilst they haven’t completely stopped, they did not affect me day to day like back then. I definitely have more diarrhoea and constipation issues. And sometimes get pulling pains in my abdominal side.
My cure has been time. 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 or obstet gynecol – as always I’m not a medic, so obviously their expertise is far greater. And every case is different.
Lots Of Women Have IBS or Digesive Issues With Pregnancy and In The Months After Birth
A further thing that the gastro-intestinal consultant told me was that a lot of women suffer with constipation and IBS problem during pregnancy and after birth. In fact, he said that being pregnant and having children can completely change the way the gut reacts.
No-one has told me this. When I was pregnant, I had suffered for the first time ever with constipation. The midwife did not really comment on this, she just asked me to stay more hydrated and gave me lactulose. But in truth I was actually drinking a lot more than normal when pregnant, as I am not normally good at staying hydrated.
Do Read Some Of The Comments Below
I have discovered since I first wrote this post 2 years ago that it really resonated with women patients from all over the world. I have subsequently had lots of really useful comments, suggestion and stories about adhesions post c section written in the comments of this post. Whilst it may not answer your questions, I would definitely say to give the comments a read that come after this post. And do add your own story, adhesions after c section symptoms or suggestion as it may be of use to someone else further down the line.
8 years on from my caesarean experience I do still suffer occasionally with tightness and some digestive issues. Gas pains after c section are real! I also suffer from back issues… which I will possibly cover in a future post, as I do think these too stem from my birth complications.
So – do you have any of these symptoms of adhesions from c section? I would love to hear your stories. Do comment below. Or connect with me on social media.
Enjoyed this? Why not read My Birth Story?
And please do pin this post about adhesion after c section symptoms and treatment for later.