preparing for delivery

Okay. So nothing will really prepare you for the birth of twins, unless maybe you've already had a set! But here are some suggestions from the wonderful folks on the twins list to help make your delivery and hospital stay easier.

Discuss the birth with your doctor.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? But sometimes with all the intricacies of a twin pregnancy, discussion of the birth gets pushed aside. Try to have this conversation early on in the pregnancy.

Consider some of the delivery issues ahead of time, and discuss them with your doctor. What is the doctor's policy if one of the babies is breech? Transverse? How long will the doctor allow the pregnancy to progress-- 38 weeks? 39? 42? Will the doctor induce if you approach that point?

I was so worried about pregnancy issues, bedrest, and possible health problems with the babies that I didn't ask any questions about going full term. At 38 weeks, the doctor stripped the membranes, and said labor should start soon. He did the same at 39 weeks. At 40 weeks, I came back, and he wasn't there! He'd been called up for reserve duty, and none of the other doctors were really prepared for me. They wouldn't induce with a twin pregnancy because of the risk to the second twin, and half of them wouldn't consider vaginal delivery with Twin B transverse. In the end we scheduled a c-section (40 weeks, 5 days). I didn't mind the c-section, but I wish I had asked more questions, earlier. I would have been quite happy to move the operation up a few weeks!

But I thought twins always come early!

50% of twins arrive before term (38 weeks), as opposed to 10% of singletons. But that still leaves 50% on or after 38 weeks!

Many doctors do not want their patients with twins to contine past 38-39 weeks. Besides the obvious discomfort for the mother, there's some research suggesting that the additional time in utero is more detrimental than beneficial:

How can I prepare for preemies?

As mentioned above, there's no guarantee that your twins will arrive early. However, the possibility is higher than with a singleton birth. Some hospitals allow expectant parents to take a tour of the NICU, to get some idea of what may be waiting for them; ask if that's an option. We also have a list of Preemie Resources, should you need them.

Write a Birth Plan.

Whether you write an official birthplan to give to your doctor or just go over your wishes with your partner, you should consider some of the alternatives. Do you know you'll want an epidural? Do you know you don't want it (or that you'd at least prefer to avoid one)? Consider the other factors over which you'll have some control (and if you aren't sure, be sure to ask your doctor/midwife), and decide how you'd prefer to handle them.

Some women hire a doula, or pregnancy assistant, to help them through the pregnancy, labor, and early days at home. More information is available at:

Whatever you decide, please remember that you may not be able to determine how things go. Keep in mind that in the end, delivering healthy babies is more important than whether they arrived vaginally or whether you needed forceps or a c-section. If you can maintain some flexibility during the delivery, you're well on your way to surviving the next 20 years!

What's a partner to do?

In addition to the birth plan, you should have an "after birth" plan with your partner. In the event of a c-section or some unexpected procedure after the birth, do you want your partner to remain with you or to accompany the babies?
Tell your DH beforehand who you want him to be with if there's a quesion. It's natural for him to want to stay with you, but easier to go with the babies if he knows that is what you want. I was under orders to go with the babies no matter what.

When should I pack my bag?

Since 50% of twins arrive before their due date, you might want to start preparing for their arrival fairly early. But there is such a thing as being too prepared:
I packed a hospital bag at 36 weeks and delivered at almost 41!

What do I need to take to the hospital?

For delivery: Afterwards:

Additional Suggestions

This primarily relates to c-section recovery, but even after a vaginal delivery, you might want to keep this in mind:
In lots of hospitals they do not offer pain killers - you need to ask for them - do not be shy!! I found it invaluable that the first few days I kept the pain at bay, and after 2 days I was off them. Also ask about a "durablock" which is something they put through the epidural at the end which keeps you pain free for 24 hours.

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