After giving birth to her first child by Caesarean section, Louise Richmond wanted to deliver her second baby without any help from the surgeons. Here, she describes her experience.
When did you find out that your first baby would be born by Caesarean?
My 20 week scan showed that the placenta was lying across the bottom of the uterus and would make it difficult for me to have a normal birth. I was scanned every few weeks after that to see whether it was still in the way. At 38 weeks it was still refusing to budge, and so I was booked in to have a Caesarean at 39 weeks.
How did the operation go?
I wasn't quite prepared for what it would feel like to go under the knife fully conscious! Knowing that the surgeons were opening up my tummy just behind a flimsy blue curtain was a very weird experience.
Because of the abnormal positioning of the placenta, it took the doctors two hours to get the baby out. After that, it took them another hour to stop the bleeding. My partner told me later that he was shocked by the amount of blood pooling under the operating table. I lost so much blood that I had to have a transfusion.
How did you feel?
Words can't describe the joy I felt at seeing our beautiful baby girl for the first time. When she let out her first cry - the first of many - my maternal instincts kicked in straight away and I knew I would do anything to make her happy. We named her Annabelle. At the same time, I was quite shaky after losing so much blood. It took me weeks to feel like I was back at full strength again.
Did you plan for your second child to be born by Caesarean too?
Despite some of the horror stories I had heard about difficult vaginal births, I felt that I had missed out on one of life's great experiences by going the surgical route first time around. I hadn't had any choice then, but when I became pregnant again, I decided to try for a VBAC - vaginal birth after Caesarean. I was told that the success rates were good and that I would be monitored throughout to make sure that my uterus didn't rupture at the site of the Caesarean scar. That was a scary thought, but I felt that I was in safe hands.
Did the second birth go according to plan?
Because I had a minor infection, I had to go into hospital as soon as my waters broke so that I could be given intravenous antibiotics. Unfortunately, this meant that I ended up being in the hospital for a very long time! After 36 hours in the hospital, and a failed attempt to induce the baby, I was still only 1 cm dilated, and the baby began to show signs of distress, so the decision was made to deliver the baby by another Caesarean. Everything went smoothly this time. Our son, Alfie, was born and gazed calmly around him at this new world. Again, I fell in love at first sight.
Looking back, would you make the same decisions again?
If I had my time again, I'd opt for a planned Caesarean second time around. I didn't enjoy labouring in vain, and was so tired by the time I got to greet my baby boy that I felt a bit jaded. But the main thing is that I have two such amazing children now.