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Twins and triplets

twins and triplets
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When you find out you are expecting twins or triplets, once you have got over the initial shock you may assume that it is just twice the fun or double the trouble. But having a multiple birth can bring up a whole new array of questions, issues and practicalities that need to be addressed before you welcome your new bundles of joy into the world.

Twins and triplets are likely to be born early and your birth options may be limited because of this. Chances are, if you were planning a home birth or delivering in a birthing centre, that may be out of the window and you should be prepared to give birth in hospital. Less than half of all twin pregnancies go beyond 37 weeks and the average triplet pregnancy is 34 weeks, so be aware your babies may spend time in special care.

home birth

Extra staff to help

You will also find that more health professionals will be present at the birth. Twin or triplet deliveries are classed as a higher risk, so the hospital will want to ensure everyone is available to assist and ensure you and your babies receive the best care. It is fair to expect a midwife, obstetrician and two or more paediatricians to be there so be prepared for an audience!

While triplets are nearly always delivered by elective caesarean, almost half of twin births are delivered vaginally and the process of labour is the same. Both babies will be closely monitored and it is normally recommended you have an epidural should you require medical intervention quickly. Unfortunately this would rule out being able to have an active birth where you are free to walk about or use a birthing pool, but a natural delivery is still possible with twins, even if assistance is required.  If the first twin is head down then it is usual to consider a vaginal birth but this won’t always be possible. If for any reason your medical professionals don’t believe a vaginal birth is best, they will be able to explain why and recommend a caesarean section is performed instead.

third trimester

Caesarean?

You may chose to have an elective caesarean from the start and the position of your babies throughout pregnancy will also determine whether a caesarean is the best option. If they are breech, or in the horizontal (traverse) position, then you will have to have a caesarean. Other conditions may also require a caesarean, are if your babies share the same placenta or if the placenta is low lying; conditions which can be risky for both mother and babies.  If you have previously had a caesarean, then it will be recommended you have the same this time round and even if you have been able to go for a vaginal birth, if you experience complications in labour you should be prepared to have an emergency caesarean if required.

When they arrive

Once your babies are safely delivered you will need to think about the practicalities of having two or three hungry mouths to feed, nappies to change, burping and dressing, all at once and if they have to spend time in special care this brings up a new set of dilemma’s. Ask if the hospital has a transitional care unit which allows mums to care for their babies when they do not need intensive care and often allows mum and all babies to stay together in the same place. If you have a poorly baby, be prepared that they may need to be transferred to a different hospital for additional medical care. You may want split your time between babies or ask if the other baby can visit at the same time and cot share if appropriate. It may be possible for your babies to be discharged earlier if you can get the support from a community neonatal nurse, which is especially handy if your baby or babies are still tube fed.

twins and triplets

Feeding your babies

From a practical point of view, breastfeeding can be quite difficult, so engage the support of your breastfeeding counsellor for advice on the best ways to breastfeed, positions to make it easier and ways to encourage milk production. Lastly, consider asking for any medical appointments to be made late morning or afternoon. It’s often difficult to get ready and out of the house with several babies to feed, change and dress so don’t add extra stress! There are also plenty of charities and support groups available to offer support for parents having twins and triplets, so feel free to pick up the phone and talk to someone if you have concerns or just want to speak to other parents in the same situation, you aren’t the first and won’t be the last to have twins or triplets!

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About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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