Mom designs special underwear after C-section
By Arthur Lightbourn
“By accident” is how Catherine Brooks likes to say she became an entrepreneur.
Five years ago, when she was 36 and pregnant with her first child, she planned to give birth naturally. And why not? She was a runner, a triathlete and a second-place division winner in the 1996 Ironman competition in Montreal. So physically, she was in great shape, except for a manageable bleeding problem.
So when she responded poorly to a shot she was given to speed up her delivery, her doctors told her there was a change in plans.
For her and her baby’s safety, she would have to give birth via a Cesarean section, commonly referred to as a C-section, a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.
To put it mildly, she was shocked. But the procedure was successful for both mom and daughter. She subsequently bore two other children via C-sections.
But out of the experience was born a unique startup company called C-Panty, which today designs and manufactures After Cesarean and Post-Partum underwear to ease the post-baby recovery symptoms of all moms.
“I couldn’t understand why there was really nothing available to alleviate the symptoms of recovery,” said Brooks, a Solana Beach resident who has a master’s degree in public health. “Nothing, except mesh panties and really cumbersome binders for your belly that don’t really address the incision symptoms.”
Right after a baby is born via Cesarean, she said, doctors will often “take your uterus (fallopian tubes and all) out of the incision to examine it.”
“That blew my mind. My uterus was lying on my belly? No wonder I was sore.
“I recovered beautifully. I was fine. I was walking around, but I was very swollen and had all the symptoms that result from an open surgery: burning, itching, scarring. Your whole belly is sore. It’s hard to button your pants.”
So she and her physician husband started looking for a solution. But, despite the fact that in the U.S. alone more than 1.3 million women undergo Cesarean births, they couldn’t find anything.
Brooks devoted 18 months to designing and testing panties that would be comfortable and, most importantly, would help in the healing process, which goes on for about a year.
Her solution was a panty that not only mildly compresses the swollen areas but, with a sewn-in panel of washable silicone, hydrates the wound area to aid the healing process, alleviates the itching and assists in minimizing the scar appearance and size.
She tested the prototypes, she said, “on myself, my friends and everyone we knew who had a C-section.
“I used my wound care background to design the product and my public health background to test and refine the product.”
She launched C-Panty nationally at a small maternity trade show in Las Vegas in 2008, followed by participation in the larger All Baby and Children (ABC) trade show in Las Vegas in 2009.
And since then, business has been booming.
“Our goal, which is relatively conservative I would say, is to capture 5 percent of the C-section market ($2.4 million annually in retail sales).” And, she said, “that’s 5 percent buying one pair and 80 percent of our customers are buying two pairs.”
Panties range from $23.50 for a bikini-style, nonsilicone “incision shaper” for use from three months after a C-section to $47.50 for higher-cut silicone versions for use from one week to one year after a C-section.
Most recently, she added a panty without silicone for non-C postpartum moms in need of post-baby tummy control.
C-Panty is available at
and the national e-commerce vendor
, and at a growing number of vendors across the country, including Pea in the Pod locations, and locally, at Childish Couture in Encinitas, Babies by the Sea in Cardiff and Dress for the Nines in Hillcrest.