Having twins can be an exciting time, however, it can also feel intimidating if you don’t already know what to expect. This series discusses twins and explains some of the problems that can occur during a twin pregnancy along with some advice on how to care for your new addition. If you haven’t already read part 1 or part 2 you can find them here and here.
Monitoring Twin Pregnancy
Many techniques are used to check the well-being of your babies. They may be done to confirm other test results or to provide further information. When problems arise, the tests can help to find them early Your doctor may use various ways to check your pregnancy:
- Repeat ultrasound to check the babies growth
- Examine your cervix for changes that may show early signs of preterm labor
- Count your babies’ movements, called kick counts
- Examine the babies’ heart rate, body movement, muscle tone, and the amount of amniotic fluid by ultrasound
- Measure the babies’ heart rate in response to their own movements (called a nonstress test)
Sometimes, amniocentesis is needed. Amniotic fluid contains a substance that shows the maturity of the babies’ lungs. In the late months of pregnancy, amniocentesis may be used to decide if the babies’ lungs are developed enough for them to be born safely.
In some cases, twins can be delivered by vaginal birth. In others, a cesarean birth may be needed, in which the baby is delivered through a cut made in your abdomen and uterus. How your babies are born depends on certain factors:
- Position of each baby
- Weight of each baby
- Your health
- Health of the babies
Labor may take longer with twins, especially the pushing stage. Babies are usually born several minutes apart in vaginal delivery, but it can take longer. Twins can usually be born vaginally if they are both in the head-down position. A vaginal birth also may be possible when the lower twin is in the head-down position, but the higher twin is not. Once the first twin is born, the other twin can sometimes be turned or delivered with feet or buttocks’ first. When this can’t be done, the second twin is delivered by cesarean birth. When the lower twin is not in the head-down position, both twins often are delivered by cesarean birth. Cesarean delivery may also be needed when either of the babies is having problems.
Caring For Your Newborn Twins
Most twins do well at birth and can be cared for like any other healthy baby. However, if the babies are born early, they may need special medical care to breathe, eat, and keep warm. Preterm and small twins may be cared for in a special nursery called a neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital.
Many women wonder if they can breastfeed more than one baby. The answer is yes.
Mother’s milk is the best food for any infant. It has the right amount of all the nutrients the baby needs. When you breastfeed, your milk supply will increase to meet the amount needed by your babies. You will need to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of liquids. Women who breastfeed need at least 500 extra calories a day. If your babies are premature, you can pump and store your milk until they are strong enough to nurse from the breast. You may find it helpful to talk with a lactation specialist who in trained to teach women about breastfeeding.
Caring for twins can be stressful at times. Get as much rest as you can. Let others take care of daily chores while you care for yourself and your new babies. Enjoy the special time you have with each one. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.