A Cheshire midwife has spoken out about 'unrealistic' expectations affecting the body confidence of women who have given birth by C-section.
After a survey revealed 47% of women admit their body confidence plummeted after having the procedure, Emily Street who runs independent midwifery company Bump & Me says there is 'unfortunately still a stigma' attached to caesarean births.
She said: "If they have not had the birth they wanted their confidence can suffer, and the scars left behind can be a constant reminder of that.”
"During pregnancy the tummy is stretched and with a normal delivery it tends to go back. When the tummy has been cut with a C-section, it tends not to.
“After such major surgery you would usually take some time off work to rest and recuperate and allow yourself to heal. But with a C- section it’s really hard to do that and I think people expect so much these days.
"Women can look around at others and think ‘why am I not bouncing back?"
The survey, carried out by Fagron UK, who produce C-section scar gel Nourisil MD, found that 27% of mums said they felt too self-conscious about their bodies to wear swimwear or tight clothes, while 26% said they were ‘concerned or upset’ by the appearance of their scar.
And 12% said they felt too self conscious about their appearance to get undressed in front of their partners.
At the Countess of Chester Hospital , 30% of births are by C-section, figures from the NHS show - with 430 elective and 457 emergency C-sections in the period 2016/17.
According to Emily, the period of postnatal care given by the NHS has reduced in the last few years.
"This means mums and babies have fewer home visits to check on their wellbeing as well as checking mum’s scar is healing well," she said.
"I regularly get phone calls from mums who are a little unsure about what is happening because they don’t know what to expect.
"They don’t know how their scar should look after two to three days, or don’t know that at four to five days it can generally look worse because that’s when all the bruising comes out.
"I think it’s very hard for mums to ask for help because because feel like they should be able to do it all.”
Reflecting on changing attitudes, Emily added: "There’s the saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but there isn't that mentality anymore. There isn’t that same support. A lot of mums choose to have babies later on in life, and their parents are obviously older and less able to provide help. "
Peter Batty, of Nourisil MD, said: “Our research has shown that women can become incredibly self conscious about their bodies and their scars following C-section surgery.
"Many hope to lose their scars and get their bodies back - but it’s important to remember this should always be done in a sensible way and within a reasonable time frame.
"It’s easy to look at others and think mums are ‘bouncing back’ a lot quicker, but a C-section is a major abdominal surgery and should be treated as such. Having good support is key, as is allowing yourself enough time to properly heal.”