All Emma Adam wished for was two healthy babies and two natural water births – instead she had to settle for one emergency caesarean, followed by an elective c-section three years later. Here Emma tells us what it's like to experience both ends of the caesarean spectrum.
What did you hope for with your first baby?
I was really hoping for a water birth without any drugs. Some may call that naive but it's what I really wanted!
Why did your first birth result in an emergency caesarean?
After a marathon 90 hour labour at home, I was just not progressing. The hospital refused to admit me several times, although eventually I demanded to be taken to the labour ward.
Once there, despite all my plans, I just couldn't take any more and opted for an epidural. Four days of labour is unimaginably tough. However, the epidural meant that the water birth was no longer possible.
Eventually I began to push, but my daughter got stuck and neither the ventouse nor the forceps worked. So I was taken for an emergency c-section after a 96-hour labour.
What was it like to see your baby after such a traumatic birth?
By this point I had so much medication inside me that I was a bit out of it! But it was of course wonderful to see my daughter for the first time. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and just totally amazed that this tiny human being had come from my tummy!
I was in a lot of pain for quite a long time to come. And for the first few days I was totally immobile and had to have a lot of help from the midwives whenever my daughter needed attention.
What did you hope for with your second baby?
The second time I was more determined than ever to have a natural water birth! I did not want to repeat the experience of a caesarean.
Did you go into labour naturally?
My waters broke four days before my daughter's due date. I felt very encouraged by this because I knew she was smaller than my first and less likely to get stuck! However, this time my labour just didn't start. My first labour was agonisingly slow – and this labour didn't even begin!
What happened next?
I was admitted to hospital straight away. They told me I had 24 hours to get my labour going, after which time an elective c-section was strongly recommended as there was no fluid to protect my baby. I was unable to be induced because of my previous caesarean.
After hours and hours of bouncing on an exercise ball and walking for what felt like miles across the hospital grounds, nothing was happening. I finally came to terms with the fact that labour wasn't going to begin and that I'd need an elective c-section.
Did you feel better about an elective caesarean?
I was very worried about being immobile and in pain again, but was assured that an elective c-section is much less painful as the procedure is completely different.
When was your daughter finally born?
Thirty hours after my waters broke, I was taken down to theatre. I decided to think positively – no long labour, no emergency caesarean, and no risk of infection to my baby. I was just excited to meet her.
Finally, at 4.15pm, my little girl came into the world – screaming her head off! My partner and I both cried some happy tears of relief and the same feelings of wonderment washed over me, just as they had done the first time round. Incidentally, my first daughter was born at 4.15am, which I thought was a nice coincidence!
How did you feel after the elective caesarean?
I can honestly say it was so much better than the first time round. I was still a little limited and it was uncomfortable, but I could reach my baby, cuddle and feed her, and was up on my feet after about 18 hours.
How do you feel about the caesarean experience with hindsight?
Now that I have come to terms with my experiences, I realise that c-sections are wonderful things that actually save lives. If I had lived 100 years ago, my story would probably have had a tragic ending. Instead, thanks to caesareans, I have two happy, healthy daughters – and they have a happy and healthy mother. And that is all that matters.