Birth Stories: Preparing to Deliver Multiples

No matter how many baby books you read or doctors you talk to, there’s no such thing as being completely prepared for a pregnancy of multiples -- or any pregnancy, for that matter! As I found out, there are many variables and it’s important to be flexible with your birth plan. When I was expecting twins, I never could have imagined how my labor would pan out. Here’s what I learned from my multiples pregnancy:

I was feeling pretty good when I went to the hospital during my 38th week to deliver my full-term infant sons. I knew that many multiples are born prematurely (or before the 37th week of pregnancy), so I was relieved that my new babies had made it past that date. Ironically, after I had spent a month on bed rest and taken medication to fend off contractions, my little ones seemed to change their minds about coming out, and my labor had to be induced. Because both babies were in the head-down birthing position, my doctor and I agreed that there was no reason I shouldn’t try a vaginal delivery.

As a first-time mom, I didn’t know what to expect during childbirth. Eight hours, one epidural, and countless contractions later, my first son made his appearance. At 5 pounds and 3 ounces, he was small but otherwise healthy. As the nurses and my husband looked him over, my ob-gyn prepared for baby number two. I was exhausted from the first delivery and certainly wasn’t prepared for what came next. My second son’s umbilical cord had slipped through the birth canal ahead of him, a complication called umbilical cord prolapse. A vaginal delivery was no longer an option because it would have pressed the baby against the umbilical cord and cut off his oxygen.

Umbilical cord prolapse happens in about one out of every 300 births and is more likely to occur with multiple babies. Due to the high-risk nature of delivering twins, I was already in a surgical room. Quickly, the doctors and nurses prepped me for an emergency C-section and our second baby was born. Thankfully, he was healthy and didn’t suffer any ill effects from the prolapsed cord.

While I was preparing for the babies’ arrival, I never imagined that I would experience both forms of childbirth. But if you plan to deliver twins vaginally, you should know that a combined delivery (when the first twin is delivered vaginally and the second by C-section) is always a possibility.

Of course, my labor experience with multiples is unique to me. Work with your doctor to prepare as much as possible for your own situation. And if the delivery seems daunting, focus on the positive: You’ll soon get to meet your adorable new babies!