A belly scar and pregnancy

Early 2013 I posted my previous report on this subject area: the last of four posts on how an abdominal surgery, its scar and likely adhesions can be expected to affect a woman’s pregnancy.  This 4th post gave readers links to the earlier posts (which are also well read) and #4 quickly became one of the most read posts on this blogsite!

As I wrote then, I feel some hesitation writing about this subject and including a few of the stories and images posted on the web by brave mothers.  My feelings are surely understandable: male, not a doctor.

Yet my reading and the weight of interest confirm my original decision: women who have had abdominal surgery, whether in infancy (like mine for pyloric stenosis) or in adulthood, have reason to be very interested indeed in how that surgery might affect a pregnancy.  This is even more so if that surgery has already given them grief in addition to their scar: usually gastric issues or discomfort from adhesions resulting from their operation.  On the web there seems to be nothing else than pregnancy forum discussions of this subject, and we’re often told that this subject area tends to be brushed aside by medical workers, perhaps because of lack of knowledge of it.

The fact that so many mothers have written about this on forum sites, some even adding a photo, reflects the fact that people who have been through abdominal surgery, possibly its ongoing effects, and then a pregnancy, know how valuable and reassuring it can be to learn how others have found and managed the one-way journey they are on (or are considering).

Interested readers are encouraged to use the above link and the links in that post to access the personal stories, experiences and images I have posted there.  What I want to do here is simply to add some more “stories” and images.

First, some facts and reassurance

  • Every scar is different, as is every pregnancy: expect each pregnancy (your own and others’) to be different in lots of ways.
  • Every pregnancy involves the miracle of bringing a new life to birth, which comes with considerable physical growth and strain.  Because a scar doesn’t have the same flexibility as the damaged tissue it has replaced, expect some discomfort, perhaps pain – and sometimes nothing.
  • Because scar tissue is stronger than the skin tissue we’re born in, it won’t “give” much: the normal abdominal skin will do all the stretching and often develop striae or stretchmarks.
  • In my many years I have never heard or read of an abdominal scar causing serious trouble.

What some mothers have written –

I am a 36 year old female, with 3 children.  I had a pyloric stenosis operation in 1974, at 6 weeks old.  My scar is now about 5 inches long, a cm wide and has 4 ‘stitch’ marks down either side.  It sits off centre to my right side, vertically.  And without a doubt is attached to my abdomen at the bottom of the scar!  My mum said it was just about two inches long when first done.

Throughout childhood I complained that my ‘scar’ hurt which was dismissed by the GP as part of growing!  At 18 I had my first pregnancy, and had a dip in my stomach as it swelled, with a feeling I can only compare to being jabbed with a pin.  It wasn’t so bad with my second child a year later, although the dip was there as my stomach grew.

I had my third and last pregnancy at 33 years old, and my last baby was bigger than the first two.

I collapsed with severe pain in the middle of right my side 2½ years ago, and initially was diagnosed with kidney stones, but the urologist did not think the stones were big enough to cause pain I was in.  (They were smaller than grains of rice.)  I am now awaiting an endoscopy with a gastroentorologist to see if I may have adhesions.

My scar is definitely pulling upwards towards my right ribs and I am rather unhappy that I have had to suffer for this long to get any answers!  I have been back and forwards between the specialists 4 times now as neither would pinpoint pain, but if I were able to ‘operate’ on myself, I am convinced I could put my finger exactly where my pain is!  The pain is at best mild, but can get worse, usually 30-45 mins after eating.  It is constant, but I have learnt to recognise it and control it with painkillers.

I have been lucky that none of my children inherited the pyloric stenosis.  I am convinced that my life time of constant stomach problems, cramps, constipation, stabbing pains, nausea, etc etc!! has been a result of this condition, and wouldn’t wish it on anyone!

Good luck to you all on getting it sorted, and insist on help if your child continues to suffer.

K 2010

I also had Pyloric Stenosis as a baby and it was corrected.  I am now 7 months pregnant with my 1st baby (a boy) and had only noticed occasional stretching pains in my scar.  Doc said it wouldn’t be affected because it had been so long since surgery but I still occasionally feel stretching pains.

T G 2012

My scar gives me problems all the time and until today, I thought I was the only one….  Seeing all this has really helped me out personally!  Pregnancy is a little tough on my scar: the pulling sensation and sharp pains suck to say the least but the little angel in the end makes it all just disappear!

Does anyone have any remedies I could try to help ease the pain?  I’m 27 weeks pregnant today and the pain seems to be a little worse every day and I’m wondering what I can do to be as comfortable as possible.  My scar just feels like it’s going to burst open…. The pulling, burning and stabbing pains are becoming unbearable and any advice is much appreciated!

J D 2011

I had my surgery when I was 4 weeks old.  I am now 26 with 2 kids.  My first was born in 2003 and the second was born in 2007.  I never had any serious issues with my scar.  I did have some pulling of the scar tissue from my expanding belly when I was pregnant with both of my children but it was never painful in any way, it was just a tight pressure feeling.

None of my OBs were ever worried about my scar.

L T 2010

I am 32 weeks now and it has gotten so much worse like stabbing and tearing… I asked the nurses at the hospital and the doc and no one seems to know anything at all… it’s so frustrating.

D C 2010

I too have a large scar on my belly.  I had a pyloric stenosis… I was also worried that it would tear or something.  It was painful during my first pregnancy and itched a lot.  I rubbed a lot of scar cream into the area.  This pregnancy I’ve had no trouble at all.

S 2010

I have a vertical scar on my belly.  It’s not really a very nice scar.  During my pregnancy the scar became much wider and it seemed to sit on top of my skin instead of in it.  I was worried about whether it would ever get back to looking a bit normal again.

I’m glad that after my pregnancy it did get back to what it looked like before and it did not stay all that wide.

So you don’t need to worry.

S 2012

A picture is worth 1,000 words…

As I did when I posted the photos I chose for the earlier posts, I want to say “thank you” to the women who have posted an image of their belly scar taken during their pregnancy.  I have posted these images in support of their original purpose, protected the anonymity of these people, and will withdraw any image on their request.

In these photos notice just two further things –

  • each scar looks very much “together”, and
  • one of the transverse (horizontal) scars seems to have moved to the side.

DS 2011

RJ 2009DJ 2011SP 2009C 16w 2010

3 thoughts on “A belly scar and pregnancy

  1. Wendy

    Wow, amazing! I had no idea that some pregnant women feel so much discomfort due to their early PS scar. This aspect is probably never discussed when a doctor talks with parents about the repercussions of a female baby having PS surgery. It makes total sense though that years later, there could be burning or pulling or pain. You are doing such a service by giving voice to these women’s experiences. That the medical establishment generally dismisses women’s complaints and fears is shameful. It’s sexist and ignorant. It’s also cruel. That you reach out with such compassion and care is healing in itself. I’m sure many women feel relief reading your words. You are helping so many.

    1. Fred Vanderbom Post author

      Reading the comments of PS-surviving women was indeed eye-opening and something that made me feel a degree of outrage. So many of these women expressed real concern about their scar’s effect on their pregnancy, and I haven’t read even one report of a GP or obstetrics professional being able to answer their questions about this.
      These women’s other fear is of passing their PS on, and the ignorance was almost total on that one.
      This motivated me not to hesitate about posting again on this subject. PS survivors need to do their own homework, to be prepared to challenge and educate their doctors, and to share their stories (which at least is happening).

  2. Everett

    You can definitely see your expertise within the article you write.
    The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.


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