Delivering Twins

Feb 10, 2011 No Comments by

Here’s what you can expect when delivering  your twins:

1. Vaginal delivery. About half of all twins born these days come into the world the old-fashioned way, but that doesn’t mean the birthing experience is the same as it is for singleton moms. Once you’re fully dilated, delivery of Baby A may be a clinch (“Three pushes was all it took!”) or a protracted ordeal (“It took three hours!”). Though that latter scenario is far from a given, some research has shown that the pushing phase (stage two) is usually longer in a twin delivery than in a singleton delivery.

The second twin in a vaginal delivery usually comes within 10 to 30 minutes of the first, and most mothers report that delivering Baby B is a snap compared to Baby A. Depending on the position of Baby B, he or she may need some help from the doctor, who can either reach in and move the baby into birth canal  (internal version) or use vacuum extraction to speed the delivery. The possibility of this kind of intervention is yet another reason why many doctors strongly recommend epidurals for multiple moms.

2. Mixed delivery. In rare cases, Baby B must be delivered by C-section after Baby A has been delivered vaginally. This is usually done only when an emergency situation has come up that puts Baby B at risk, such as placental abruption or cord prolapse. (Those all important fetal monitors tell your doctor just how well Baby B is doing after Baby A’s arrival). A mixed delivery is not fun for mom; in the moment, of course, it can be very scary, and after the babies are born, it means recovery from both a vaginal birth and major abdominal surgery, a big double ouch. But when it’s necessary, it can be a baby-saving procedure, well worth the added recovery time.

3. Planned C-section. A scheduled C-section is discussed with your doctor in advance and a date is set. Possible reasons for this plan include a previous C-section (a VBAC is not common practice for multiples), a placenta previa or other obstetrical or medical issues, or fetal positions that make vaginal delivery unsafe. With most planned C-sections, your spouse, your partner, or coach can accompany you into the operating room, where you will probably be given a spinal block—a pumped-up version of the epidural used to block pain in a vaginal birth. You may be surprised by how fast it all goes after you’re numb: Baby A’s and Baby B’s birth times will be separated by anywhere from seconds to just a minute or two.

4. Unplanned C-section. An unplanned C-section is the other possible way your babies might enter the world. In this case, you may walk into your usual weekly prenatal appointment and find out that you’re going to meet your babies the same day. Best to be prepared, so in those weeks of pregnancy, be sure to get your bag packed and ready to go. Reasons for a surprise cesarean delivery include such conditions as intrauterine growth restrictions (where the babies run out of room to grow) or a sharp rise in your blood pressure (preeclampsia).

Another unplanned C-section scenario may arise if you labor for a very long time and don’t progress at all. A uterus holding 10 to more pounds of babies may be too stretched to contract effectively, so a cesarean delivery might be the only way out.

Expecting More Than One, From Conception To Delivery
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