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Things No-one Tells You About Labor and the Birth of Twins

Updated: Feb 1

Twin Parenting Blogger

Maybe it was the sheer weight I was carrying around, or that my brain felt like it was constantly in a soupy fog, or that I was in some happy twin-pregnancy bubble…I’m not sure, but whatever the reasons, there are a few things I wish I’d been prepared for before my twins were born.  My twins were my first babies and even though I had read some birthing books, I had little reality of what to expect once I went into labor and was admitted to the hospital. The focus of most books and classes about pregnancy and birth is on one baby, not two (or more). With that in mind, here are a few of the things I wish someone told me about twin labor and birth before my twins made their grand entrance.

You Might Have to Change Your Twin Birth Plan

I spent most of my twin pregnancy worrying I wouldn’t know my water had broken. Don’t ask me why this particular concern was in my head, other than one person I met at an event told me this happened to her. The first signs I was having my babies (early) was that everything just felt ‘off’ and I had a really heavy feeling in my bulging belly. Nothing new there, then, since I was carrying so much extra baby. My waters did break, but not like in the movies with a sudden deluge of water in the middle of a restaurant. I called my doctor’s office. It was a Saturday and my obstetrician wasn’t supposed to be working. They said it might be false labor and asked if I was having contractions? No. Nothing. They recommended I go to the hospital anyway to get checked out and so it could be determined if it was false labor and/or if they could delay labor as I was only 33 weeks pregnant.

I figured I had plenty of time. So, I casually took a shower (why this seemed the priority, I have no idea - denial perhaps?!) and we casually made our way to the hospital. Who should I see behind the reception desk with his feet propped up when I came in but my doctor who’d decided to work that day after all. I have never been so relieved to see anyone. I still wasn’t feeling any contractions, but they hooked me up to the monitors and sure enough, off the charts contractions appeared that were coming closer and closer together. My poor body was so stretched and I had been in so much discomfort for so long, I guess it just wasn’t registering the contractions. Twin pregnancy bonus!

True story: one nurse actually said to me in the middle of all of this, “I know you aren’t feeling any contractions and are having a C-section, so you must feel like you are missing out on the feeling of pushing during the birthing process”. Mmmm, NO. Never once had that crossed my mind. I didn’t care. I truly didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I just wanted my babies to arrive safely. Don’t listen to people who tell you they had the perfect birth, skipped the epidural, were surrounded by water nymphs and fairies. The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s experience is different. It doesn’t make it better or worse than someone else’s. Make a birth plan and stick to it if you can, but keep in mind your babies may have other things planned for you. My twin labor and birth definitely didn't go to plan: my waters broke, I felt no contractions, got to the hospital and had my babies all within FOUR hours.

It's Highly Likely There will be More HealthCare Professionals in the Room with you for Twin Births

Don’t get me wrong, I had great doctors and nurses in the delivery room with me. However, because there were two babies to deliver, a second doctor I didn’t know was helping my obstetrician. There was also double the nursing staff in the delivery room, each assigned to a different baby. It felt like a lot of people. They worked like a well-oiled machine together, though. 

I knew at about 16 weeks I had to have a C-section due a complication with one of my twins so that part, at least, was no surprise. As the epidural took effect, I was told to lie back. My arms were laid out at 90 degrees to my body and a medical screen was put up across my midsection, blocking my view of my belly. There’s something very odd about being able to feel doctors pushing and pulling and your body moving but having no pain at all! There is something even odder about the fact my two doctors were engrossed in a conversation about a football game they’d been watching on T.V. the night before. This is all so normal to them! It actually put me at ease. The only people I could clearly see were my husband and the anesthesiologist. If you have a scheduled or emergency C-Section, be prepared that your partner will be able to see what is going on, you will not.

A C-Section Means You Likely Won’t Be the First to Hold Your Twin Babies

My first baby (Baby A in the twin world) was born as she intended to go on: making a lot of noise! Baby B had been perfectly content where she was. The delivery room was strangely quiet when she was born. It was a worrying few moments but, that’s the thing, not all babies come out crying. The nurses took her and checked her over and then she gave a very disgruntled “I’m not sure I like this” cry. All good. 

What I hadn’t anticipated was what happened next. This definitely should be noted on the what to expect with twin labor and birth mental checklist! The babies were put on either side of my head, but I had no way to hold them. As they were preemies, they were then quickly whisked away to the NICU. I was taken to the recovery room with my husband and then taken to my hospital room after that. He got to see our twins and hold them first while I was still recovering. It wasn’t until later that day that I was wheeled, still in my hospital bed, to see my two tiny babies. I’ve talked to other twin parents about this and it was the same for all of them. Your partner will likely get first dibs on the first cuddle!

Twin Birth C-Section

Your Twins may have to spend time in the NICU

Did I know there was a chance my twins might have to spend time in the NICU before I had them? Yes. Was I prepared when it happened? No. I felt a lot of mom-guilt when they arrived early. I had been told I was likely going to have to go on bedrest at 24 weeks. I kept negotiating, I wanted to keep working. I felt great. I finally went on complete bed rest at 32 weeks. When my twins were born the following week, I blamed myself. I felt I hadn't done enough to get them to 37 weeks or longer. Listen to your doctors, do your best and forget the mom guilt. Not all twins/multiples have to spend time in the NICU, but be prepared there is a chance they may have to because of the higher probability of them being born prematurely.

The other thing no one prepared me for was how I’d feel after I was discharged from hospital but I had to leave my babies in the NICU. I came home and cried. And cried. And cried a bit more. No one mentally prepared me that I might feel like I was abandoning my babies and I felt a lot of separation anxiety. It doesn’t seem to make sense, I know. They were in great hands, receiving the best care, but it was hard. It’s just one of those things no one thought to mention and reassure me it was totally normal to feel that way.  I think if it had been counseled about it ahead of time, I would’ve handled it a little bit better. 

As it was, the NICU staff could not have been better. One evening, the NICU nurses said, “Go out and have dinner. Relax, enjoy yourself and get some sleep. You’ll never have better babysitters again!” Never a truer word, my friends!

Twins/Multiples May Not be Discharged from Hospital at the Same Time

Why did nobody tell me this, either? After 10 days in the NICU, I fully expected both of my twins to be discharged at the same time. However, Baby A wasn’t feeding properly and had to start gavage feeding again. This was a backwards step. When the doctor told me Baby B was ready to go home the next day but Baby A would have to stay, I was so upset. However, Baby A clearly heard the doctor because she was like, “no way” and decided she could feed and pass the car seat challenge just as well as her twin, thank you very much! That’s the thing, these tiny little itty bitty twinnies can turn things around within a mere 24 hours! They will never stop amazing you.

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Although I am happy to share ideas and solutions for life with twins and higher order multiples, I am not endorsing effectiveness, safety or making any other claims about use and suitability of methods or products. Always do your own research and make decisions based on what is best for you and your family. 



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