Twin Pregnancy Delivery: What To Expect
What should you expect from a twin pregnancy delivery? In this post we will discuss how to prepare for your twin pregnancy delivery, plus things that are different about delivering twins.
We will also go over some of the things you will need to decide about your delivery such as whether to get an epidural. Additionally, we will cover delivering twins vaginally versus delivering them via C-section.
Twin Pregnancy Delivery Differences
I have previously written about the differences between twin vs 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 delivery 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.
There is a higher risk of converting 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 hospital labor and delivery room.
The second thing that will be different during a twin pregnancy delivery 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 who was 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 pregnancy delivery.
Preparing For Your Twin Pregnancy Delivery
What do you need to know and do before you arrive at the hospital for delivery of your twins?
I think it is helpful to go through a birthing class. 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.
I also recommend taking a birthing class through your local hospital. I actually did not do this, because I thought I would learn enough about labor in the twins class.
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 regular birthing class, as well.
Something else you should prepare ahead of time is packing your hospital bag.
So, what should you pack in your bag for a twin pregnancy delivery? 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 leggings or yoga pants for mom
- Comfortable shirt for mom for going home
- Pajamas and robe for mom
- Change of clothes for dad
- Hair ties
- Snacks – granola bars, chips, trail mix, etc.
- Phone charger
- Entertainment – books, tablet, etc.
Watch Out For These Signs Of Labor
How will you know labor is starting? This is a good question and there are some typical signs.
For me, with my twins, 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.
I am not going to 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 going through a twin pregnancy experience, you are probably aware that twins are typically born earlier than singletons. And 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, it is important to be prepared that one or both your babies could have a longer stay in the hospital.
Should You Get An Epidural With Twins?
This is a complicated question. I will share what I was advised by my doctors.
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 needing to be converted to a C-section during a vaginal 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.
By comparison, 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?
However, if I was having twins all over again, and my doctor’s advised to get an epidural, I still would. The reason for this, is that I would be worried not getting one could negatively impact the health of my babies during delivery.
My advice is to speak in detail with your doctor or midwife to decide the best plan of action regarding your twin pregnancy delivery and an epidural.
A Vaginal Twin Birth
It is possible to give birth to your twins vaginally. As I have mentioned, this is the route I chose to go with.
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.
Now, this was my first pregnancy and I did have an epidural. Additionally, my water broke, but my labor did not progress fast enough.
If your water breaks, the doctors want your babies to be born within 24 hours, otherwise the risk for infection increases.
Since my contractions were not close enough together, I was given pitocin. I will just say, the pitocin really moves your 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 in me.
Even though an epidural takes away pain, you will still feel extremely uncomfortable and immense pressure, and eventually the overwhelming urge to push.
Twin Pregnancy Delivery Time
Once it was time to push, I was wheeled in the bed I was in from my room to the operating room.
At this point, I had to breath through the contractions and hold 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 the medical student holding my other leg.
At the end of the day, I pushed for about 1.5 hours total. I pushed with Twin A for a much longer time than Twin B.
I do think getting an epidural made pushing less effective because you can’t feel everything that’s happening.
My twins were born 25 minutes apart, which is not atypical if you have a vaginal delivery with twins.
If you have a C-section you can expect your twins to likely be born within a few minutes of each other.
One thing I had not thought about prior to twin pregnancy delivery was that I would have time to hold twin A for a few minutes prior to twin B being born.
This was very special to me and it is a memory I will always cherish.
Additionally, I was pretty close to being converted to a C-section for twin B’s delivery. My Ob-Gyn had to re-position twin B and it was a struggle. She spent about 10-15 minutes getting her into the birth canal.
Once twin B was in the birth canal, I only pushed for 5-10 minutes. Which if you remember, that means with twin A I had to push for over an hour.
The last thing I want to mention regarding a vaginal twin pregnancy delivery is that you will also be delivering the placenta.
If you have fraternal twins (like mine) that will be two placentas delivered after each baby is born. With identical twins they may or may not have two placentas.
Delivering Twins Via C-Section
Since I do not have personal experience with a C-section and certainly not with delivering twins via C-section.
I will refer to this amazing article to give you some C-section prep tips. This 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.
I hope this post has helped summarize what to expect from a twin pregnancy delivery.
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 delivering their twins.
Good luck with your delivery twin mama, I hope it goes as smoothly as it possibly can.
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