Delivering twins is a much different endeavor than delivering a single baby. Sure, we're talking about the same basic premise—getting something big out of an impossibly small opening—but from there, it's a whole different ballgame.
There will be two separate trips down the birth canal. One baby could be head-first while the other could be feet-first. There's the possibility that you could have both a vaginal and a C-section delivery. There are two umbilical cords that could become tangled. There are sometimes two placentas. Your uterus may be too stretched out by the twins to muster enough steam to generate strong contractions. The list goes on and on.
"Whether the birth of twins occurs vaginally or by Cesarean section (or both), it is truly an amazing experience," writes Linda Albi and a group of mothers of twins in Mothering Twins. "Nothing compares to it, and no two experiences are alike. There can be great drama and suspense."
What affects how the birth of your twins will proceed? Let's take a look at several factors that contribute to twin labor and delivery.
Shorter Twin Pregnancies
Most twins are born prematurely. "In the majority of twin pregnancies, labor will begin before 37 weeks," according to Twins! Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life. The average duration of a twin pregnancy is 258 days, compared to 282 for a singleton birth, the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs' (NOMOTC) website reports. That's why twin birth experts advise moms expecting twins to take child birthing classes by the sixth month of pregnancy, so you won't be attending classes after your babies have been born.
While there's not much you can do if your water breaks when you're only 34 weeks along, there are some things experts recommend you do to try to prevent premature labor:
- Rest several times a day once you've reached 20 weeks
- Keep hydrated by drinking a lot of water
- Avoid heavy activity
- Avoid long commutes
- Avoid traveling
- Consider stopping work (on doctor's recommendation)