Twin pregnancy (Multiple birth)
When you are pregnant with twins, the progress of your pregnancy is much the same as if you had one baby on board. You see your health care professional throughout your pregnancy, and they discuss with you (and offer) a number of tests to keep an eye on the growth and development of the babies, and on how your body is dealing with the added stressors of hormones and your growing body during pregnancy.
Most twin pregnancies will progress normally, and you will give birth to two healthy babies with no complications. However, because you have 2 babies in-utero (in your uterus), there is a slightly higher risk of developing some problems through your pregnancy. For this reason, some institutions may refer to your pregnancy as being ‘high risk’. Unfortunately, this phrase often puts doubts and concerns into your mind. Try to find a health care provider that will encourage you to enjoy your journey, and remind you that most twin pregnancies can progress normally, rather than worrying about all the things that might happen.
The most common obstacles to a twin pregnancy fall into two categories: those affecting the mother, and those that affect your babies. Ultimately, if you make it to 36weeks of pregnancy with twins, most of the dangers have passed.
The pressure of any pregnancy on the mother’s body usually presents in the third trimester (around or after 28weeks), and your pregnancy will be monitored for signs of these. Most commonly, these include signs of increasing blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Perhaps because of these, you are also at risk of giving birth early, and because of that, your babies may be small.
A baby with low birth weight and/or prematurity may have difficulties with breathing and/or eating. In some rare cases, one of your twins may grow bigger than the second. This is a condition that will be picked up, via ultrasound and your babies will be more closely monitored for the remainder of your pregnancy. Babies that require additional support after birth will have assistance from the very capable staff in a Special Care Nursery (SCN) or Neonatal Unit (NNU, NICU).
Staff in Neonatal Unit’s are very helpful and welcome questions from new parents. You will also be encouraged to care for your baby when able. Most hospitals will have a tour of the hospital available to you. These are a great way to familiarise yourself with staff and equipment before your babies arrive, just in case!
The next thing you may have heard is that twins must be delivered via Caesarean Section (C/S). Babies may present themselves for birth with both heads down, one head and one bottom (breech), or both breech. If the first twin has their head down ready for birth, vaginal birth is no more risky for the mother than if she had one baby. There is also a lot of information advocating vaginal breech births if you want to find it. Ultimately (as with everything relating to your pregnancy and birth) the choices are yours. There is more information available to us now than ever before. Speak to your health care professional regarding your choice armed with your resources.
Your ‘twin pregnancy’ journey, like any pregnancy, is one filled with intense learning from many sources. We are all busy these days, often working as far into our pregnancy as we can. Please remember the value in finding and using local support services such as Australian Breastfeeding Association, and Australian Multiple Births Association (AMBA). Support from other parents can be invaluable. For a short insight into what some parents feel when they have a premature baby, or when they have twins, there are 2 condensed videos available on my Birthing Sense website under ‘newsletters’ in the menu (on the left).
Enjoy your journey