In 1½ years of posting weekly about the effects of infant surgery, the blogs that attracted the greatest number of “visits” were about related subjects: adhesions from the surgery (highest) and adhesions and pregnancy (3rd). Both are clearly “hot” topics.
Almost a year ago I wrote quite extensively about the possible effects of infant surgery on baby girls if they have a baby in later life. Unsurprisingly, the strong interest in this subject was not reflected in the number of Comments on the post. Your blogger here is not female nor a medical worker, making that understandable. However, let me explain to the reader that my interest in blogging on infant surgery is purely and simply (a) to explore and document my own PTSD struggles resulting from my infant surgery for pyloric stenosis, and (b) to pass on to the blogosphere’s interested human population some of the many things I have learnt and benefited from my years of privately researching the human issues around infant surgery.
Here and now I want to give just a quick overview of what those women who have had infant surgery to their abdomen might expect during a pregnancy. For more detail, click on the above link to my June 2011 post on this subject, or google for more information.
In summary, if you have had infant surgery on your abdomen and wonder whether and how this may affect your pregnancy, there is – (1) most likely, good news, (2) the possibility of some trouble ahead, and (3) good news even if you have some problems.
1 It’s most likely that your infant surgery will have little effect on your pregnancy.
Judging by what people have posted on the internet, about 50% tell us they had no problems whatsoever from their scar or from adhesions under it. It’s more than likely that those who have an uncomfortable time will go to the effort of writing about it, so we may conclude that the great majority regard it as “not an issue”.
It would be wonderful to have more than anecdotal evidence for this conclusion, but for what it’s worth, in 15 years of internet research, I have never come across a medical study on this.
I’d like to think that if considerable numbers of infant surgery patients went on to have difficulties carrying a baby, the medical world would recognise this and direct more research to improving its management.
A surgical scar takes up to three years for mature, but in that time becomes tougher and stronger than normal tissue, although also far less elastic.
2 Some abdominal scars will cause pain or discomfort, especially during pregnancy.
This may range from itching and stabs of pain to feelings of internal pain, tearing and even some bleeding. This may occur during any but the first months of the pregnancy.
Rubbing a soothing cream over the uncomfortable area always feels good, and massaging an old scar and adhesions under strain is helpful. However, many of the often recommended creams (e.g. cocoa butter) are useless except as a lubricant, and some (such as Vitamin E cream) may be worse as they can cause a rash on stressed skin – as even I as a mere male have found – lol.
It should be realised that not only the scar we see is tough and inelastic: a surgical scar goes deeper than the incision that it repaired. Almost all abdominal surgical scars come with adhesions, scar-like tissue that develops web-like between abdominal organs in the body’s attempt to heal collateral damage done by the surgery and even by the gases and air to which the wound was exposed.
Often these adhesions can be felt by the patient in later years but most cause little or no trouble. However, like the outside skin of the abdomen they may object to the growing baby.
3 Whether a mother-to-be has discomfort or not, it is virtually impossible that her scar will cause major difficulties.
The internet record shows that many women who have had infant abdominal surgery understandably wonder and worry about how their first pregnancy will be affected by their external and internal scarring.
It is very significant that on the web there is simply no mention of anybody having their scar rupture or herniate due to pregnancy, although this is possible.
Several women mention the scar of their incision line widening a bit, others found theirs became less indented, sharp and obvious, and others again have reported their pregnancy “exploded” their scar along with their abdominal skin, so that it became more like their striae or stretch marks.
Others have mentioned that during their pregnancy their scar and the indentation that often comes with belly scars almost disappeared as their abdomen was stretched. But only then…
To those who have had abdominal surgery and then a pregnancy, I ask, Would you be game to tell us something of your experience here? Either as a Comment, or you’re most welcome to email something to me that I can post here. If you’re really game, include a photo to post .
First-hand comments on posts such as this one will be highly appreciated by many of our readers, but may once again be elusive. So a good selection of quotes from web forums may have to do.
In any case, in my next post I plan to pass on some of the comments women have posted elsewhere about this subject.