What should you expect from a twin pregnancy delivery? Preparing to deliver twins is both exciting and scary at the same time.
You can’t wait to meet your two little bundles of joy, but getting to that point is scary for most expecting twin moms, especially if this is your first pregnancy. In this post I will be reviewing my own personal twin birth story in order to help you know some things to expect.
Additionally, we will discuss things that are different about delivering twins, things you will need to decide about your delivery, such as whether to get an epidural, and delivering twins vaginally versus delivering them via C-section.
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What Is Different About Twin Births?
I have previously written about the differences between twin and singleton pregnancy, and now we will discuss a couple things that are different when delivering twins versus delivering a singleton. The two biggest differences in a twin pregnancy birth are:
- Delivering in the operating room
- The number of people present during delivery
The biggest thing to expect from your delivery will be delivering your twins in the operating room. Even if you are not having a C-section, you will likely be wheeled into an operating room for delivery.
If you are planning to deliver your twins vaginally, keep in mind that there is a higher risk of needing to convert to a C-section with twins. This is why it is common for twins to be delivered in an operating room, instead of the typical (and more comfortable) hospital labor and delivery room.
The second thing that will be different during the birth of your twins is the number of people present for the delivery. You will have a nurse for you and a nurse for each baby.
My twins were born at 35 weeks, so there were also two nurses from the NICU present. Additionally, your doctor will be there.
There could be added interest for medical students to see twins being delivered. I had my twins at a teaching hospital and there was the resident that was working with my Ob-Gyn and a medical student doing rotations.
I agreed to let the medical student be there, which is not something you have to let happen. Luckily he was so nice and he actually ended up holding one of my legs during birth.
Additionally, the anesthesiologist was present during delivery. This was in case there was a need to convert to a C-section.
Last, but definitely not least, my husband was there. So, if you’re counting that’s 10 people in the operating room during delivery, not including me or the twins.
By comparison, for the vaginal delivery of my singleton, there was the doctor, her resident, a nurse for me, a nurse for the baby and my husband. That’s half the number of people that were present during my twin birth.
How To Prepare For a Twin Pregnancy Birth
What do you need to know and do before you arrive at the hospital for delivery of your twins?
I think it is extremely helpful to take a birthing class. On top of an actual labor and delivery aka Lamaze class, you should also check if there are any twins pregnancy classes offered at your local hospital.
For me personally, there was a special twins birth and pregnancy class offered through the hospital. If this is an option for you, I highly recommend it.
Something I wish I had done differently was to also take a labor and delivery class. I thought I would learn enough about labor in the twins class, but unfortunately that was not the case.
Labor and delivery was covered a little bit, but after going through labor and delivery of twins myself, I would have preferred to take a birthing class as well.
Before we move on you might want to grab our FREE Twin Baby Registry Guide by filling in the form below. It includes a printable Twin Baby Registry Checklist and links to (2) ideal sample twin baby registries. This guide will walk you step-by-step through selecting the baby items that are perfect for your family’s specific needs.
What Are The Best Birthing Classes When You Are Pregnant With Twins?
So, what class should you actually take if you are having twins? I highly recommend the online birthing classes from Mommy Labor Nurse.
There are two reasons I recommend these courses to expecting twin parents. First, each course is designed just for your type of birth. Whether you’re having a C-section or a vaginal delivery with an epidural – that is the course you will sign up for.
Secondly, there is an entire section of each course specifically talking about the birth of multiples. So, the Mommy Labor Nurse classes are just perfect for twin parents to be.
Additionally, the classes are taught by a labor and delivery nurse who is also a mom of 3. The reviews for these classes are through the roof too!
They include over 3 hours of birthing lesson videos and 2 hours of newborn care videos. Here is the list of what you can choose from, click the one that applies to your for more info.
If you’re undecided you can also sign up for this FREE birth preparation workshop first.
Hospital Bag For Twins
Something else you should prepare ahead of time is packing your hospital bag. What should you pack in your bag for a twin birth?
Here is my list. I recommend having it ready to go by 30-32 weeks pregnant. Twins have a tendency to arrive early!
- (2) going home outfits – one for each baby
- (2) pairs of maternity leggings or yoga pants for mom
- Comfortable shirt for mom for going home
- Pajamas and robe for mom
- Change of clothes for dad/partner
- Hair ties
- Snacks – granola bars, chips, trail mix, etc.
- Phone charger
- Entertainment – books, tablet, etc.
To stay organized you can get this printable Twins Hospital Bag Checklist or these Twin Labor Checklists, which includes both the twin hospital bag checklist and a twin birth plan checklist.
Watch Out For These Signs Of Labor with Twins
How will you know labor is starting? This is a good question and there are some typical signs.
For me, my water broke in the middle of the night. I was dead asleep and I thought I had wet the bed. But, then it happened again, and I realized my water had broken.
With my singleton, I had cramping and light spotting throughout the day. I also had contractions about 10 to 20 minutes apart for about 18 hours.
Lastly, for both pregnancies I had a bloody show approximately 1 week prior to the actual birth of my children. I am not going to go into more details on signs of labor with twins, since I only have my one experience to go off of.
But, I do recommend checking out this awesome blog post on the signs of labor with twins, if you want to know more.
Average Week Twins Are Born
Since you are pregnant with twins, you are probably aware that twins are typically born earlier than singletons. On top of that, the risk for preterm labor is greater in a twin pregnancy.
Be prepared to deliver your twins by 38 weeks. Most doctors will not have a twin pregnancy go past this point.
The average week twins are born is 35 weeks into pregnancy. Personally, this is the week my twins were born.
One of my twins was in the NICU for 1 week, while the other twin was in the continuing care nursery (a step up from the NICU) for 2 days before coming home with us.
My point is that since twin pregnancies do not last as long. At the same time, it is important to be prepared that one or both of your babies could have a longer stay in the hospital.
A Vaginal & Preterm Twin Birth Induction Story
It is possible to give birth to your twins vaginally. As I have mentioned, this is the route I chose to go with. In this section I will be sharing my twin birth story with you.
My reason for picking a vaginal twin birth was the postpartum recovery seemed like it would be easier. Additionally, I had a friend with twins and she had delivered them vaginally.
Knowing this information gave me more courage to try for a vaginal birth with twins. I figured if I could avoid having to go through surgery, then I might as well avoid it.
Even though a C-section is so common, at the end of the day you are cut open and it is a major surgery. With that said, my biggest concern was giving birth to twin A, only to have to be converted to a C-section in order for twin B to be born.
That is a big thing to consider when making a decision on the birth of your own twins. Additionally, your twins will need to cooperate and be facing head down to proceed with a vaginal birth, or at the very least twin A will need to be head down.
Water Breaking With Twins
As mentioned above, my water broke while I was dead asleep around 1:30am. I was 35.5 weeks pregnant at this point. I called my doctor’s office and was told to go to the hospital.
During this time I was not feeling any contractions. Once we arrived at the hospital, the nurses hooked me up to a monitor to see if I was having contractions.
I was having them, but I wasn’t feeling them, they were not all that close together, and I was only 3 cm dilated. In other words, I was not ready to start pushing.
Now, the problem was that once your water breaks, it is often advised that your babies be born within 24 hours, otherwise the risk for infection increases.
I was given a room and hung out at the hospital throughout the day to see if labor would start naturally. The good news is that I was very comfortable during this time.
But, unfortunately, labor did not progress fast enough, so I was given Pitocin. I will just say, the Pitocin really moved my labor from point A to point B very, very quickly. After receiving Pitocin, the contractions were very intense.
By comparison, my singleton was born completely naturally and I never experienced contractions that were as intense as the ones I had with Pitocin. Even though an epidural takes away pain, you will still feel extremely uncomfortable and immense pressure, and eventually the overwhelming urge to push.
My Epidural Twin Birth Story
Now, before I received Pitocin, I was given an epidural. I want to share my epidural twin birth story experience here too.
One big question you might have is whether you have to get an epidural if you are giving birth to twins. This is a complicated question and I will share what I was advised by my Ob-Gyn practice.
My goal was to deliver my twins vaginally, if possible. My Ob-Gyn said that it was totally possible. But, as far as the epidural goes, the practice I go to very highly encouraged mom’s pregnant with twins to get an epidural.
Why would this be the case? The reason they want you to get an epidural with twins is that there is an increased risk of being converted to a C-section during vaginal twin delivery.
If you have an epidural, the changeover to an emergency C-section is much smoother. Now, with that said, I had complications afterwards from my epidural and ended up with spinal headaches for 1 week after delivery.
It was absolutely horrible to deal with these headaches, especially with two newborns to care for. It effected my ability to breastfeed and pump for my twins.
By comparison, for my pregnancy after twins when my singleton was born, I did not have an epidural and my labor was much, much faster. In fact, I didn’t even have a choice because when we got to the hospital I was already 10 cm dilated! I know, crazy right?
If I was having twins all over again, I would have a much longer and more in-depth conversation with my doctor or midwife to really understand all the risks associated with getting an epidural. Then, I would voice my concerns and come up with a birth plan that I was most comfortable with.
When my doctors said you should get an epidural, I just went with it and I did not learn much about it. The best thing you can do is speak in detail with your doctor or midwife to decide the best plan of action regarding your twin birth and receiving an epidural.
My Story of Pushing Preterm Twins Out
All right, it’s time for the grand finale. We have reviewed that my water broke, but my labor had to be induced with Pitocin. I did receive an epidural and I chose to try giving birth to my twins vaginally.
Once it was time to push, I knew! In fact I really wanted to start pushing, but I had to wait until they could wheel my bed from the labor and delivery room to the operating room. I breathed through the contractions and held off the urge to push those babies out.
Once in the operating room, the doctors and nurses got everything set up quickly and I started pushing with my husband holding one leg and a medical student holding my other leg. It was exhausting and it took a very, very long time. I was in there pushing for 1.5 hours.
Since this was my first time giving birth, I didn’t understand how to really push full force. Eventually the doctor really talked and coached me through it and I was able to make good progress pushing. On top of this, I do think getting an epidural made pushing less effective because you can’t feel everything that’s happening.
By the time I figured out the most effective way to push, I was already pretty tired, so the whole process took a little longer than it needed to. If I had been using my breathing appropriately to help with pushing from the get go, I do not think pushing would have lasted quite as long.
But, hey, it was my first time doing this, so you live and learn. A majority of my pushing time was for twin A. She was born, then the placenta was delivered.
I had a 10 minute break to hold my baby, which was very special to me and a memory I will always cherish. Next, it was time to deliver twin B.
However, she was not positioned in the birth canal, so my Ob-Gyn had to re-position twin B and it was a struggle. She spent a very long 10 to 15 minutes getting her into the birth canal.
I was starting to get nervous that my worst fear would come true and I would be converted to a C-section after twin A was already born. However, it all worked out!
Twin B was moved into the birth canal and I could start pushing. Since the path had been cleared by Twin A. I pushed for about 5 to 10 minutes and twin B was born.
Lastly, twin B’s placenta was delivered and I got to hold my second little girl. Then, both twins were moved to the continuing care nursery and I was moved back to my room.
Just a note for your information on the placentas, if you have fraternal twins (like mine) there will be two placentas delivered after each baby is born. However, with identical twins, they may or may not have two placentas.
Twins C-Section Birth Story & Preparation
Since I do not have personal experience with a C-section and certainly not with delivering twins via C-section. I will refer you to this amazing article to give you some twin C-section prep tips, and if you are looking for a more personal experience, check out this birth story for a twin C-section.
These articles will help you to understand what to expect for twin delivery via C-section. With twins, you generally are given the option to have a C-section regardless of the direction your twins are facing in-uterine.
On the other hand, if your twins are not positioned correctly, the mother’s health is of concern, or a host of other reasons, it might be necessary or recommended to deliver your twins via C-section.
How Long Does a Twins Birth Take?
Like most births, the amount of time to birth your twins will vary. You might be in active labor when you arrive at the hospital and have a quick birth. Or, maybe you will be like me, and your water breaks but you have to wait a long time until it’s go time.
Additionally, if you have a C-section it could be planned or an emergency. What this all means is that the total time from arriving at the hospital to when your twins are born has a very large range. It could be a couple hours or 48 hours before they are born.
One other thing I do want to discuss is how far apart twins are typically born. My twins were born 25 minutes apart, which is not atypical if you have a vaginal delivery with twins.
If you deliver twins vaginally you can expect them to be delivered anywhere from 10 minutes up to a few hours apart. On the other hand, if you have a C-section, you can expect your twins to be born within a few minutes of each other.
Postpartum Twin Birth Recovery Story
I do want to share a few notes regarding your postpartum recovery after giving birth to twins too. This is important because I was not prepared for the recovery my own body would be dealing with.
When you are expecting, there is so much focus on the health of your babies. Quite often, mom is totally forgotten about or it is just assumed she will bounce back immediately after giving birth.
Being healthy in order to care for your newborn twins is so important. One of the things I was personally not prepared for was dealing with spinal headaches.
Spinal headaches are a potential side effect from having an epidural. I happened to be in the unfortunate position of dealing with them.
For me this meant anytime I sat up straight I would have an immense headaches like a migraine. The only thing that helped was caffeine and laying flat on my back.
Trying to travel back and forth to the NICU and pump breast milk was extremely difficult. I felt so guilty because I wanted to be there for my twin girls.
The second thing I dealt with was an extremely stiff neck after labor. I pushed for 1.5 hours and during that time I did something that caused a large amount of neck pain.
This stiff neck pain effected my ability to sleep. I had severe pain up and down my neck for a few days after labor.
Between when my water broke, going through labor, and the neck pain, I pretty much didn’t sleep AT ALL for 3 days straight! I had never been through anything like that, and it was just very difficult.
I am sharing these postpartum stories with you so you can understand some of the things you might end up dealing with after the birth of your twins. The moral here is to be prepared for some unexpected postpartum recovery problems you could end up dealing with.
If you do have a difficult twin postpartum recovery, just remember that you need to take care of yourself, so that you will be capable of taking care of your babies as quickly as possible. But, remember to not feel guilty if you are not at your best.
Now that you have read my vaginal induction twin birth story and maybe a twin C-section birth story as well, this should better prepare you for the birth of your twins.
I hope this post has helped summarize what to expect from a twin pregnancy delivery and birth. I know it can be stressful to think about what you will be going through.
That’s why I wrote this post, to help twin moms mentally prepare for the birth of their twins, and to provide the resources you need to get through twin labor and delivery as smoothly as possible.
A couple reminders before you go – SIGN UP FOR A BIRTHING CLASS! If you are looking for specifically helpful for twins, I recommend the Mommy Labor Nurse online birthing classes.
Second, to help prepare for birth get one of these checklists:
Or, if you want both checklists you can get them as a bundle right here.
Good luck with your delivery twin mama!
Your article is very informative.
Thank you Banaali!