Name: Alexa Otte

Children’s names: Maddox, Alaina, Alyssa

When did you have your C-section?

10/4/11, 9/8/13, and 10/6/16

Was it planned or unexpected?

My first c-section was a bit of a surprise. Maddox was breech. At 34/35 weeks, we had an ultrasound (u/s) to check to see if he had flipped. He hadn’t, so we had to decide if we wanted to try for an inversion or a c-section. I had heard a lot of bad things from others who had tried to flip their babies, so we decided to go with the c-section. As first time parents, we were also really nervous about having him come early and didn’t want to risk it. Looking back, it’s really a good thing that we didn’t try the inversion; it turns out that I have a septate uterus and it could have ended very badly for both of us.

We had about a week to get used to the idea of a c-section, when my water broke at work at 36 weeks. I thought I was wetting my pants! (In my birthing class, they said only about 15% of women have their water break; not true!) I work at The Fertility Clinic, so I hung out in the bathroom with a few of my co-workers until my husband arrived. Maddox was born at 4:18pm that afternoon.

For Alaina, my middle child, we knew that she would be a c-section, since we had found out about my septate uterus. She was also breech and my water broke at 5 am at 38w and 3d. She was delivered at 11:36 am.

Alyssa, my miracle baby, was also a planned c-section; but our story was much more complicated. Before Maddox was born, I had two ectopic pregnancies and after Alaina; I had one biochemical pregnancy and another ectopic. At this point, I only had my left Fallopian tube remaining and that month that I conceived, I had ovulated on my right side. The odds of pregnancy are about 1/10,000.

At my 20 week u/s, I was diagnosed with placenta previa. It’s somewhat common to occur, especially with a history of c-sections. Many who have placenta previa, have it resolved in time for a normal delivery, but are closely monitored. So I went in for u/s’s every 4 weeks and it was becoming more complete; so I went on modified bedrest at 28 weeks and complete at 31 weeks. I received steroid shots at 34 weeks, to be on the safe side. Due to the placenta previa, I was induced at 36 weeks. Since my placenta was low lying across my belly and cervix, they did a classical/vertical c-section, from my belly button down to just above my mons. There was a full surgical team of about 25 people; ob, anesthesia, urology, NICU. My husband wasn’t permitted to be in the OR this time, but he was able to do a lot of skin-to-skin with Alyssa while I was still in surgery.

What was your recovery like?

C-sections are difficult for the moms; not only do you have this new person to take care of that depends on you for everything, you also just had major surgery. It was about 4-6 weeks of taking it really easy, before I started to feel comfortable again.

My physical recovery was much better with my second than my first c-section; I knew what to expect and was up and about in about a week.

My last c-section, that was totally different. The docs did give me nerve blockers, so the first day after Alyssa’s delivery wasn’t so bad. But then they wore off and it seemed like every resident wanted to check out my incision, (not a common delivery method) and to “massage” my uterus.

Not fun! I was on my pain meds regularly for about 2 weeks and then started to taper off. My abdomen was really tender to the touch for months afterwards; even pants really bothered me. Thank goodness for leggings!!

What surprised you about your C-section recovery?

How non-nonchalant everyone was about it. I did get offers to help with things around the house, but I feel more like they just wanted to hold the baby and not really help. Hello, it’s major surgery!!! I did get help from Mom’s Bloom, which was fabulous!

What types of pain relief/control did you use?

With my first, I had a spinal during delivery, which wore off during delivery. Yeah, not cool. It turns out I’m one of the few who can have complications with anesthesia. I ended up getting more meds and kind of faded out after he was born.
With my second c-section, I met with the anesthesiologist to discuss what had happened for my first. So they tried the spinal again, but used different meds in my IV. Again, another fail. They knocked me completely out after Alaina was born. The head of anesthesiology came to my room to apologize the next day.
For my last c-section; they used local pain measures to put stents in my ureters and then knocked me out completely for the rest of the delivery. The anesthesiologist gave me nerve blockers and that helped immensely for my recovery.
Post delivery for all my babies, I alternated norco and ibuprofen for 1-2 weeks.

What types of comfort measures were helpful to you?

Having my own clothes and toiletries at the hospital was the best. I LOVE my nursing tanks, they are worth every penny!

Also, ask the nurses for a belly band for extra support.

How did you feel emotionally about your C-section in the early postpartum weeks?

I think the hardest part, was the unexpectedness of Maddox’s delivery was that he was early and we had just found out that I would have to have a c-section. I didn’t have those issues when my girls were born. I was super anxious as a new parent and now he was early and I had to recover from a heavy duty surgery.

I do have a history with postpartum depression and anxiety after each of my deliveries, but the c-section itself, never really bothered me. I’m practical; my kids and I are all alive and well and that is what matters. To me, the form of delivery doesn’t really matter in the long run. I do understand how that can effect some women, especially if you are in labor for hours/days and THEN end up with a c-section.

When you think about your C-section today, how do you feel about it?

It is what it is.

What advice would you give other people who’ve recently had a C-section?

During delivery: I recommend having your support person to wear an easily accessible shirt for skin to skin; in case your delivery takes longer.

Postpartum: TAKE IT EASY!! You don’t need to be Wonder Woman. Someone else can cook, clean, and do laundry.

Make yourself and baby a “nest” area. It will be difficult to get up, so you want to have your drinks, snacks, burp clothes, chapstick, remotes, devices all within range.

It your c-section is planned, I recommend making some freezer meals ahead of time; takeout can get old after a while.

*Editor’s note When your support team is focused on the baby, consider hiring a postpartum doula to focus on YOU!