Giving Birth to Twins or Multiples: What You Need to Know Beforehand
Giving birth to twins or multiples is becoming more common than in previous years. In fact, multiple pregnancies occur at a rate of 1 in every 80 pregnancies. If you are pregnant with more than one baby, or know someone who is, it is important to understand the unique challenges involved.
What to Consider with a Multiple Pregnancy
While pregnancy is hard enough for women who are only giving birth to one child, a multiple pregnancy often doubles or triples the amount of stress and tension on the female body. This results in a much more challenging pregnancy. When pregnant with multiples, you can expect the following:
- a multiple pregnancy will typically only last for 37 weeks instead of the full 40 weeks, while a baby born at 37 weeks is almost full term, it is more likely that a multiple pregnancy will result in one or more babies who are underweight and/or suffer from problems related to underdevelopment at birth;
- due to the increased strain multiples put on the body as well as the risks to the baby, you can expect to spend a lot more time at the doctor’s office for prenatal appointments to test and scan for signs of abnormality;
- you will be more likely to develop high blood pressure and preeclampsia, both of which can result in pre-term labor; and
- as you will be carrying more than one baby, you will gain additional weight – not only from the weight of the additional infants, but also in amniotic fluid and placentas in the case of non-identical multiples.
C-Section vs. Vaginal Delivery
While a multiple pregnancy is often associated with a C-section delivery, not all multiples are born this way. However, for the majority of multiple births there are risks involved that result in the use of C-section rather than vaginal delivery. Here are some of the reasons C-section delivery is most often used in multiple pregnancies:
- the babies are not turned with their heads facing down at the time of labor;
- complications have arisen in the health of the babies that result in an at-risk delivery;
- you are less than 33 weeks into your pregnancy at the time of labor;
- the babies weigh less than 3.5 pounds each, or one or more of the babies have been growing at a much slower or rapid rate than the others;
- in the case of twins, the babies share a single amniotic sac; and
- you are having more than two babies.
Finding out that you are expecting twins (or more) can be exciting, but may also come as a shock. It's quite normal to feel a little apprehensive, so make sure you get all the help and advice you can. Get in touch with other parents who have had multiples to ask for advice. Who knows? You may even tap into a great resource for future play dates!