Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars

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Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Grace Yuan's 3-year-old daughter Rebecca, looks at the caesarean delivery (C-section) scar on her mother's belly, which is being worked on by a tattoo artist, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, making Yuan want to cover it up. As a dance teacher, she feels awkward when the scar is exposed as she wears dancing costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan. REUTERS/Aly Song

After trying cosmetic creams and surgery, Wang Jing placed her hopes in the skilled hands of a tattoo artist to make the scar on her belly finally disappear.

"Whenever you try to reach for something your belly is exposed. It's not nice looking," Wang, 46, said of the scar from the caesarean birth of her daughter two decades ago that would soon be covered by a kitten tattoo.

China has one of the highest C-section rates in the world, reaching a peak between 2004 and 2008 when nearly half of the country's babies were born using the procedure, the World Health Organisation said in 2010.

This has created a niche market for creams, makeup and plastic surgery to hide the four to six inch scars left by the procedure.

Some women spend up to 300 yuan ($43.44) for a 30 ml tube of silicone gel that promises to make their scars go away. Others opt for laser surgery costing 2,000 yuan for each centimetre of scar treated.

Tattoo artist Shi Hailei said he offers an alternative to mothers unhappy with the results from gels and tummy tucks.

"A tattoo makes a woman more confident. She will no longer feel ashamed to show her abdomen," said Shi, the 32-year-old owner of Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai.

Shi said he was inspired by Brazilian tattoo artist Flavia Carvalho, who offers tattoos to women physically scarred by domestic violence. He thought tattoos could help improve the self-esteem of Chinese mothers unhappy with their scars.

Shi performed his first free C-section tattoo in 2015. His shop now helps up to six women per month and sometimes there is a waiting list due to high demand.

Wang Jing, 46, who is being tattooed, is reflected on an image depicting China's late Chairman Mao Zedong at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 1, 2017. Wang, who has a 20-year-old daughter, has spent thousands of dollars over the years on treatments to remove her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar. She decided to cover up the scar with a tattoo of "Little Pepper", one of her three pet cats. "I want to be more confident when wearing low-rise pants," she said. REUTERS/Aly Song

Health experts cite several reasons for China's widespread use of the procedure.

Caesarean delivery is believed to require less nursing hours than a natural birth, helping China cope with rising in-hospital births as more people move to cities and put pressure on health services.

Eason Zhou, 28, mother of a 5-year-old child, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 25, 2017. Zhou underwent a caesarean delivery (C-section) because the baby was past its due date. She has tried a scar-removal product before but it didn't work very well. She saw reports on the artist and wanted to have a try. "In the past people thought tattoos were just for men, but now women are starting to get them too," she said. REUTERS/Aly Song

The decades old one-child policy also led couples to choose a caesarean delivery to avoid complications that could arise from natural child birth. Finally, women are choosing a caesarean birth if they are worried about a prolonged labour, doctors say.

Covering a belly scar can be a challenge because the skin is softer than other parts of the body. Each scar is unique and requires careful thought about the tattoo design.

Wang Jing, 46, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 1, 2017. Wang, who has a 20-year-old daughter, has spent thousands of dollars over the years on treatments to remove her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar. She decided to cover up the scar with a tattoo of "Little Pepper", one of her three pet cats. "I want to be more confident when wearing low-rise pants," she said. REUTERS/Aly Song

“It could be vertical or horizontal. It will affect the composition,” he said.

The women who have sought Shi's help say they are very happy with their new appearance.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
A tattoo of a flower is applied to Kiki's belly at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 15, 2017. "This is my fifth tattoo. I like flowers and have tattoos of flowers on my shoulders and legs. I enjoy getting tattoos, it's addictive," Kiki said. She chose to have caesarean delivery (C-section) over natural birth because she didn't want to suffer too much. REUTERS/Aly Song

Grace Yuan, a dance teacher with a 3-year-old daughter, had been embarrassed about her scar.

"I felt awkward to see my scar when wearing a low-waist dancing dress," said Yuan, who got a rose tattoo in April. "I can dance freely on the stage now without worries or awkwardness."

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Grace Yuan's 3-year-old daughter Rebecca, looks at the caesarean delivery (C-section) scar on her mother's belly, which is being worked on by a tattoo artist, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, making Yuan want to cover it up. As a dance teacher, she feels awkward when the scar is exposed as she wears dancing costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan. REUTERS/Aly Song

Wang Ruoyu, 37, said her self-esteem received a boost from the winged crown tattoo that covers the scar on her lower abdomen.

"All girls want to be pretty and so do I," she said.

Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Grace Yuan, 34, mother of a 3-year-old daughter, teaches a dance class in Kunshan, near Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, so Yuan wants to cover it up. A dance teacher, she feels awkward when her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar is exposed when she wears costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Grace Yuan, 34, mother of a 3-year-old daughter, poses with her new tattoo, which covers her Caesarean delivery (C-section) scar, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, so Yuan wants to cover it up. A dance teacher, she feels awkward when the scar is exposed when she wears costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Shi Hailei, 32, a tattoo artist who gives free tattoos to mothers that want to cover up their caesarean delivery (C-section) scars, works in Samurai Tattoo studio in Shanghai, China, March 25, 2017. Hailei was inspired by a South American artist who tattooed the scars of women who had suffered from domestic violence. Two years ago, Shi came across a report that said that China had one of the highest C-section rates in the world. He decided to help women who went through the operation. The free project has helped more than 20 mothers in the past two years. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Wang Ruoyu, 37, a mother of a 16-year-old son and a yoga coach, teaches a yoga class in Shanghai, China April 25, 2017. Ruoyu had a caesarean delivery (C-section) because her baby weighed 4.25 kilograms at birth. She began practicing yoga for postpartum recovery and became a yoga coach. "I love all beautiful things that make me look better," she said. "I chose the pattern of a crown with wings to cover the scar. It looks nice." REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Grace Yuan's 3-year-old daughter Rebecca, touches the caesarean delivery (C-section) scar on her mother's belly, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 26, 2017. Yuan's daughter thinks the scar is ugly, making Yuan want to cover it up. As a dance teacher, she feels awkward when the scar is exposed as she wears dancing costumes. "Now I feel more confident after getting this tattoo. I can dance freely on the stage without worries or awkwardness," said Yuan. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Li Ling, 34, mother of a 6-year-old boy, poses with her new tattoo, which covers her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 25, 2017. Ling's tattoo is of a forest under a night sky showing the the Capricornus Constellation. Capricorn is her zodiac sign. "I constantly felt hungry during my last month of pregnancy and I couldn't stop eating. As a result my son grew too big for a natural birth. He weighed 4.18 kilograms when he was born." REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Wang Jing, 46, waits for tattoo artist Shi Hailei to transfer a tattoo design onto her caesarean delivery (C-section) scar at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 1, 2017. Wang, who has a 20-year-old daughter, has spent thousands of dollars over the years on treatments to remove her caesarean delivery scar. She decided to cover up the scar with a tattoo of "Little Pepper", one of her three pet cats. "I want to be more confident when wearing low-rise pants," she said. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
A combination picture shows women posing with new tattoos which cover their caesarean delivery (C-section) scars at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, in images taken between March 1, 2017 - April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song 
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Shi Hailei, 32, a tattoo artist, who gives free tattoos to mothers that want to cover up their caesarean delivery (C-section) scars, works in Samurai Tattoo studio in Shanghai, China, March 1, 2017. Hailei was inspired by a South American artist who tattooed the scars of women who had suffered from domestic violence. Two years ago, Shi came across a report that said China had one of the highest C-section rates in the world, he decided to help women who went through the operation. The free project has helped more than 20 mothers in the past two years. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Kiki, 25, mother of a 5-year-old boy, poses with her new tattoo, at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, March 15, 2017. "This is my fifth tattoo. I like flowers and have tattoos of flowers on my shoulders and legs. I enjoy getting tattoos, it's addictive," Kiki said. She chose to have caesarean delivery (C-section) over natural birth because she didn't want to suffer too much. REUTERS/Aly Song
Chinese mothers tattoo over C-section scars
Wang Ruoyu, 37, mother of a 16-year-old son and a yoga coach, poses with her new tattoo at Samurai Tattoo in Shanghai, China, April 12, 2017. Ruoyu had a caesarean delivery (C-section) because her baby weighed 4.25 kilograms at birth. She began practicing yoga for postpartum recovery and became a yoga coach. "I love all beautiful things that make me look better," she said, "I chose the pattern of a crown with wings to cover the scar. It looks nice." REUTERS/Aly Song
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