'You should never come that close to death': Louise Thompson recalls traumatic birth experience

Speaking to ITV News, the reality TV star discusses the aftermath of her son's birth that left her with PTSD

Louise Thompson and I both welcomed our first baby boys in November 2021, four days apart. Both of us were told that as fit and healthy women we would be ideal candidates for home-births. We both ended up having emergency caesarean sections.

Sharing birth stories has, for a long time, helped many women to process and understand the life-changing event they have experienced.

As a former reality TV star, Louise, of Made in Chelsea fame, is used to sharing huge parts of her life with her one million Instagram followers, but the story of her son’s arrival is one she’d rather not have to re-live.

After suffering complications, Louise endured a three-hour operation and lost more than three litres of blood.

She had always wanted an elective caesarean section but was persuaded by medics not to.

“I just felt like no one wanted to listen” she told me.

Louise had predicted she might die during childbirth journaling in the days before her birth. She was told what happened to her in a birth debrief with the hospital.

After Louise was discharged from hospital, she had another bleed at home where she lost more than five litres of blood in the middle of the night. The second harrowing incident left Louise with PTSD and unable to carry another pregnancy, a choice that has now been taken away from her. When I asked Louise what the impact of the birth had on her life, she replied: “Everything, for a period of time, everything in my life was destroyed by my birth."

Last week, Louise shared her story at a parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma and heard "harrowing" evidence from thousands of women. The all-party inquiry, led by Conservative MP Theo Clarke and Labour MP Rosie Duffield, found "poor care is all frequently tolerated as normal, and women are treated as an inconvenience".

“You should never have to come that close to death to then survive. It completely destroyed my life. I didn’t know how to cope with that level of fear," Louise said.

'I was the poster girl for health and you never think it's going to happen to you'

Throughout her recovery, Louise found it difficult to talk about her traumatic birth. She found comfort in writing and her first book “Lucky” is released on Thursday.

In the aftermath, Louise said she felt like the "unluckiest person" but during her recovery she started "shifting the narrative" to "focus on the good stuff".

"I did start to see more of the positives in life: I felt lucky for living close to a hospital, for looking after myself my whole life, so that my body was able to recover, and for having a healthy son that survived.

"Obviously for surviving myself too, having a partner and having family close by and just being really, really grateful for those things, because I know that there are a lot of people that are less fortunate. That that's why I feel lucky, because I'm here."

In April, Louise announced on social media she had been through further surgery to have part of her bowel removed after struggling with ulcerative colitis for six years. She believes the medication she has been taking since the birth of her son may have contributed to her condition worsening.

Despite everything, Louise says she does feel lucky. She believes the relationship she has with Leo has been strengthened by the tough start they had. But he is also lucky that his mum is alive.

“I will never get that time back with my son that I lost in the beginning and equally I will have to live with PTSD for the rest of my life," Louise said.

"It’s not something you can cure. It’s not going to disappear.”

A spokesperson for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "The health and wellbeing of those in our care is our absolute priority, and it’s right we recognise when this care doesn’t meet the standards that patients rightly expect and that we learn from it.

"Patient safety and the quality of care we provide are fundamental to our maternity service.

"Our thoughts and best wishes are with Louise and her family during this difficult period. We are committed to working with all our patients and will continue to work with Louise on supporting her and providing appropriate resources and guidance."

Help and support for any of the issues raised in this article can be found via a number of organisations, including:

  • Birth Trauma Association is a British charity that is solely dedicated to supporting women and families who have experienced traumatic birth. It offers a range of support which can be found on its official website.

  • Tommy's works across the whole pregnancy journey and offers bespoke online advice to anyone suffering with PTSD following childbirth.

  • The National Childbirth Trust supports thousands of parents every year on their pregnancy journey and lists advice on its official website regarding how to recognise the signs of a traumatic birth or PTSD.

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