After going through a harrowing first birth, Emanuela “Manu” Redaschi shares the experience of having her second child at a private maternity unit
My name is Manu and I am a happy mother of two very lively boys, Maximilian, aged 3, and Alexander who was born on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.
During my first pregnancy, the doctor suggested having a planned caesarian section as Maximilian was very heavy and tall, and there could have been complications with a natural birth.
But my son had other plans. The day before the C-section was due to take place, my waters broke and we rushed to the hospital. The doctors virtually ignored the fact that I was already booked in to have a caesarian and pushed me to try for a natural delivery. Maybe I should have been firmer and resisted, but I was too confused and scared to go against the doctors’ suggestion at such a delicate time.
Eighteen hours passed until the doctors finally agreed that a natural birth was not possible and I finally had my C-section. Maximilian was born. He screamed and cried, and I was the happiest woman alive. But I could only spend a few minutes with him because then the bleeding started and I had to be rushed back to the operating theatre. For the following 12 hours, I had three further operations and came within a whisker of having my uterus removed.
In the end, my condition stabilised and after spending an entire day without my son, I was finally reunited with him. After this harrowing experience, my biggest concern, and my family’s biggest fear, was if my body could still bear other children. But the doctors were adamant that this was not the end of the line; I was able to conceive again, albeit only with another planned C-section.
This was, of course, fantastic news. The hardest part was to assure myself, and most of all my shell-shocked family, that having a second baby did not mean going through the same experience and running the same risks again. Before even beginning to try to conceive another child, my husband and I had to be as confident as possible that this time around there would be no tears and no frantic pacing of hospital corridors waiting for news.
This felt so different from the first time – no labour, no pain, no epidural
One thing was certain. We wanted – and needed – to receive the best possible level of care before, during and after the pregnancy. As a newborn photographer, I do hear many different experiences of pregnancy and birth, and rarely someone who has received private care would have a negative story to tell. My husband and I therefore felt that the best option we had was indeed to look for private care. A few of our friends already had very positive experiences in the private ward of St Thomas’ so we decided to arrange an initial consultation with the head of the obstetrics department.
The meeting lasted for over two hours, during which we bombarded the doctor with our questions and doubts. When we left, my husband and I definitely felt more reassured and optimistic; the vast majority of our questions and issues were answered and explained in an understandable, calm and serene fashion. My husband was the hardest to please and the most difficult to convince that we were taking the right path and putting ourselves in the hands of the right people.
But the meeting won him over and, throughout the entire process, we always felt positively reassured that the doctors were in control and providing us with a high level of care. Moreover, during the pregnancy they were to conduct a series of additional exams in order to constantly monitor my condition.
I felt that I was far better placed in the hands of an obstetrician rather than a midwife for the ongoing care that I felt I needed. With each monthly visit to the obstetrician, my husband and I kept on feeling more and more positive. I knew I was looked after with a level of care individually tailored to me, and these were certainly the best conditions and environment I could have envisaged for the development of my pregnancy.
The doctors and other medical staff always went out of their way to explain to us the examinations I was going to have, thereby making us both feel completely involved and fully aware of the process. We also felt reassured by the fact that the same doctor we saw during the first meeting, and for at least a dozen times after, was going to be the one performing the C-section and looking after me during my recovery.
The obstetrician made it clear that this time around I should not enter into labour and so the date of the C-section should be two weeks before my expected due date. My husband was very keen to avoid weekends and Fridays, believing that better care was usually available during weekdays. There was a lot of debate and in the end we settled for February 14.
And so the big day arrived. This felt so different from the first time – no labour, no pain, no epidural. I felt very relaxed, almost unaware of what was going to happen and not believing that a few minutes later I would be cuddling my newborn baby.
It all happened in a blur. The baby was out and immediately I was able to hold him in my arms. The doctors successfully completed the operation and off we went to a stand-by room. Nurses were constantly making sure everything was going as planned and my vital signs were under control. The doctor came again to visit me and was extremely positive about the outcome of the operation and the health of the baby.
We spent the following day in hospital and knew, with each uneventful hour that went by, the risk of complications was getting smaller and smaller. All hospital staff were extremely helpful, caring and tireless, further adding to the already elevated euphoria we were feeling.
And so we went back home. The big fear was over. The questions, the doubts, the concerns had all been replaced by a beautiful healthy baby and a mother, who was quickly recovering and starting to organise her new life.
In the following days and weeks, I went back to the hospital for a number of follow-up examinations and tests, and a dedicated midwife from the private ward made home visits. The level of aftercare was very high and individually tailored to my needs, with many examinations repeated after the birth so that the doctors could compare results and continue monitoring me.
Needless to say, my husband and I are over the moon with our new baby boy – our happy ending.
Mother of two Emanuela Redaschi is a London photographer who specialises in newborn and baby photography.