Giving Birth to Multiples
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Labour and childbirth are two topics which can keep a pregnant woman's mind racing well into the night. So if you are expecting two or three babies, does that mean that you have twice, or even thrice the worry? This article should help you feel more prepared about having a multiple birth labour.
Do I have to have a caesarean?
If you are carrying twins and you have had a healthy pregnancy then a vaginal delivery is usually considered to be safe. The process will largely be the same, but you will have a bigger antenatal delivery team, including two paediatricians (one for each baby). After the first baby is born, the team will check your tummy and you will probably have a vaginal examination to assess the positioning of the second baby. Provided that the second baby is in a good position for birth then you will be able to go on to deliver your second child directly after the first. Just note, if your contractions have stopped then you will be given hormones to restart them. As multiple pregnancies are considered to be high risk, the team will be on standby for a caesarean section throughout the delivery.
If you are expecting triplets, or more, then you will almost definitely have them delivered via caesarean section.
As multiple pregnancies carry a number of increased risks, you are more likely to need a caesarean section for health reasons when delivering multiples. If having a caesarean worries you, then researching caesareans and what to expect may help you feel more confidence about the procedure. With both single and multiple pregnancies a caesarean is fairly common, and while it does involve major surgery, the risks of complications are relatively low. Although there are a number of unavoidable reasons for needing a caesarean, you can reduce your chances of needing a caesarean by staying fit, active and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Always ask your doctor whether your exercise routine is appropriate for your pregnancy.
As multiples often arrive ahead of schedule, it is important that you discuss your options for delivery with your midwife or obstetrician well in advance. This ensures that you have a birthing plan (and a back-up plan) before the big day arrives.
If I'm able to have a vaginal delivery, can I have a home birth?
In theory, yes you can have a home birth if you are delivering vaginally, but your antenatal team is unlikely to encourage either a home birth or a delivery in a midwife-run birth centre. Multiple deliveries are considered to be high risk, and for this reason it is preferable that you deliver in hospital where appropriate care is available immediately for both you and your babies, just in case.