Sunday, July 18, 2010

More than One? Oh my God!!!

Ok, so maybe they're not saying it out loud, but from the way some people react when you tell them that you're having more than one baby, you would think that you were about to explode. Although twin births in the US are now up to 3 in 100, many medical providers are still treating moms of twins like they could not possibly have a healthy pregnancy or a natural birth.

I am lucky enough to have a doula client right now who is pregnant with twins. In order to better serve them, I've been doing lots of research on twin pregnancy, natural birth with multiples and breastfeeding twins. It turns out that when parents educate themselves and use caregivers who support their choices, it iscompletely possible for them to experience healthy pregnancies with natural births and to breastfeed successfully.

The catch here is that, unfortunately, parents will likely not achieve the results they desire by simply leaving their care in the hands of doctors and hospital policies. Many OBs are more comfortable with delivering twins by Cesarean and will encourage parents to consider surgical birth. Some hospitals require that twins be born in the operating room, even if mom is planning on delivering vaginally, so that a Cesarean can be performed quickly. There are doctors who try to require mothers to have an epidural placed so that they are ready to do surgery if they decide to. The C-section rate for twin births with obstetricians is roughly 50%. Bottom line: If you are having your babies in a hospital with an OB, they are most likely planning to perform a Cesarean.

It is up to you to educate yourself about your choices for your birth, write a birth plan, talk with your partner about what you want,and hire a doula who will help advocate for you. Some parents who want a natural birth decide to use the services of a doula and give birth in the hospital, while some decide to have their baby at home with the help of a midwife.

Pregnancy Today's article, "A Guide to Vaginal Twin Birth," has this to offer:

"•Choose a doctor who is committed to natural childbirth and comfortable doing breech deliveries.

•Maintain an excellent nutritional intake, including a liter of water a day, which will contribute to the health of the twins and help to avoid complications.

•Have a midwife, doula or other supportive birth professional in attendance at the delivery.

•Stay upright and mobile during labor as much as possible and make sure that the hospital supports this option. You should be able to eat, drink and walk while in labor.

•Be informed about possible medical interventions. Read, research and ask questions before and throughout your pregnancy.

•Show up for the delivery armed with a birth plan and discuss it with your doctor/midwife in advance.

•Believe in your own power to give birth to two babies naturally and without surgical intervention. If you can visualize something, it is more likely to happen that way."
Some good resources that I've found for couples who are expecting twins are:

Spirital Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin- has a short but incredibly valuable section on multiple births.

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins (or more)

Mothering Magazine's Discussion Board

International Cesarean Awareness Network

And finally, a lovely twin birth video, the way every family should get to experience it:

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