If you have ever wondered what c-section scars look like just after giving birth, or years down the road, get ready to be enlightened.
Whether you're expecting for the first time and know cesarean birth is a possibility, or are an experienced mom who's just plain curious, take a look at our site moms who've proudly displayed their badges of honor:
Two days after giving birth
This mom's incision has been closed with surgical staples, often referred to as being "stapled shut."
Four days after giving birth
You can see two c-section scars here. The new one has been stapled shut, and the older one, from a c-section two years earlier, is faintly visible.
Not long after delivery
When a c-section incision becomes infected, it can delay the healing process, as happened to this mom.
Two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth
Four weeks after giving birth
Seven weeks after giving birth
Seven weeks after third c-section
This mom has had three c-sections. Her vertical scar – from a type of incision made only in special circumstances – is from the most recent. Her two horizontal scars came from standard c-sections seven and eight years ago.
Twelve weeks after giving birth
Four months after giving birth
One year after giving birth
Two years after giving birth
So what's it really like to have a c-section?
Over in the our site Community seasoned moms are sharing about their cesarean births, and it seems their experiences vary quite a bit. Here's a sampling of their stories:
KAHowell: "I had 2 scheduled c-sections. Both because of my medical history. The were both easy and I had a quick recovery with both as well. They are not nearly as bad as people make them out to be."
Waiting_4_A_Fairy: "C-sections are pain free during delivery....after it's another story. You will have a hard time sleeping. Stairs are a no-no. I already talked to [my husband and] I will be living in the living room after my c-section. The first c-section is the worst and then they get better."
slessen: "I had C Section with my son It was a very quick and speedy recovery. The doctor was surprised at how quickly I healed. I was almost completely healed by the time my husband had to go back to work after his two week leave was over."
drahgonne: "I know some people say their c/s's are easy, but that's not the case for everyone. My coworker had one with her little boy. I met her for lunch when he was a month old, and she couldn't even stand up straight yet."
tmm28: "My two c-sections were great. I recovered quickly, I didn't bleed very long afterwards, and my breastmilk came in right away. The worst part about it for me was the first time you have to get out of bed and walk the floor. That part was painful but after doing it a few times it really isn't so bad."
LinzRae: "I wish I would have known that I wouldn't be able to change my son's diaper or pick him up by myself for the first 24 hours. I couldn't get out if bed for 10 hours and the first few times hurt terribly. It broke my heart but was great bonding time for baby and daddy."
katimae0709: "I think it's just like a natural birth as far as every woman is different. You're going to get a lot of conflicting information here, but the biggest thing I would tell you is to listen to your body. If you hurt, take your pain meds. Don't try to push yourself too far too soon. If you have concerns, speak up about it with your doctor. Keep your incision dry."
therighttwin: "I would say it was probably 8 weeks before I was feeling pretty normal…but, hey, the phrase "vaginal tear" isn't apropos to me… I guess there's a bright side to everything! I personally had two vaginal births, and can't say the same. Ouch."
As a little girl I remember seeing my mom'sc-section scar, flat and white against her pale belly when we'd change in a dressing room. She never mentioned being bothered by it being there, and as a young kid it made sense to me in a way that vaginal birth didn't. Perhaps it's because my dad worked in an operating room, but having a doctor make a cut to take the baby out seemed way less confusing and mysterious than a baby making its way out of the vagina!
This post was originally posted in May, 2014
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.