As we are nearing the end of C-Section Awareness Month I thought I had better get on wtih the post I had planned for it – covering the birth of our twins delivered by Caesarean section early last year.
The girls at about a day old swaddled sharing their hospital cot.
Me enjoying cuddles with them a week or so after we’d got them home.
This is not a ‘warts and all’ account of my birth story. Instead it’s offering some insight into my own experience of having a planned twin c-section delivery. The birth of your child or children is arguably the most emotional and meaningful moment of your life (sorry hubby if you thought it was our wedding day) and therefore the decision about a planned c-section, or not, with multiples can take up valuable headspace during the pregnancy.
The story may go something like this. You see the blue line on the pregnancy test and begin to fantisise about a natural water birth in your plush local birth centre. You go for your first scan and find out you’re having twins. After the initial hysteria – I laughed and cried on that momentous day – you begin to realise the birth you dreamed of may no longer be your lot. After all, according to the NHS website, more than half of twin births are delivered by Caesarean section in the UK. Of course a large amount of twins are birthed naturally. However there is no getting away from the fact that it is more likely that surgery will be involved in the delivery of multiples. So here are some truths about twin c-sections from my perspective and experience.
- A lot of Consultants favour delivering multiples by Caesarean section.
The conversation I had with my osbtrectician about my birth plan was short and sweet. It went somthing along the line of: “as you had an emergency ceaseran with your first child than we will be booking you in for a c-section for the twins.” Now don’t get me wrong I could have pushed back if I had been so inclined, but actually, it made sense to me. My first child had – excuse the technical term – ‘got stuck’ so there was a pretty high chance that it would happen again.
However, even if twins are the mum’s first children it seems, from talking to other twin mums, that many medical professionals are pro c-section deliveries. This seems to be because as multiples are viewed as a higher risk pregnancy then there is a preference for controlled conditions. I would not want to argue one way or the other (this is not the point of this post) but, if you are an expectant twin mum, it is good to know that your consultant will most likely be pro c-section. You can then prepare for the conversation accordingly
2. All being well the delivery date will be booked for around the 37 week mark…
At 37 weeks a pregnancy is viewed as full term. We requested for our girls to be delivered nearer to 38 weeks and ended up with a date which worked out at 37 weeks plus 5 days. They were born weighing 5lb 13 oz and 5lb 5oz. Neither needed special baby care and were healthy from the start.
3. …and you will more than likely know this 3 – 4 weeks beforehand.
I vividly remember sitting with the Consultant booking in the ceaearan section during one of my many antenatal appointments. It seemed a fairly mundane task – just like making any medical appointment really. He suggested a date. I asked if it could be a few days later. He agreed and scheduled it on his calendar on the computer. This could have felt quite clinical – choosing our children’s Birthday in such a way – but really it was incredibly helpful in lots of ways. For instance we were able to plan childcare for our eldest.
4. Don’t expect to be the first delivery of the day.
We were assured that I would be ‘first up’ to theatre due to it being a twin birth. And so we fully expected to have the babies in the morning. In actual fact this wasn’t the case. I didn’t get to the operating table until after 4pm due to emergencies and other operations taking place that day. Be prepared for a long wait on the day of the operation.
5. There are LOTS of people in the delivery room.
You are told that there will be a lot of people in the room for a caesarean section of a singleton. Double it for a twin one! We didn’t have the consultant we had seen for all our antenatal appointments but we had a fab team around us and usually there were two of each role so we had two midwives, two surgeons etc etc…. My hubby was in his scrubs and with us for the whole time, and maybe a bit more unusually one of the aneathatists also seemed to view his role as photographer too. He took some amazing photos for us and I am so pleased he spotted my hubby’s phone in his pocket and seized the opportunity when he was able to.
6. The delivery of the second baby is quick.
There are only two minutes between the birth of twin 1 and the birth of twin 2.
7. The plan is still to have skin-to-skin time with your babies straightaway.
Having 2 midwives with us meant that one did observations on the babies and one helped me with skin-to-skin. This meant I had skin-to-skin contact with both babies quicker than I had with my eldest and they were both latching on well with-in the ‘golden hour’. During our first night together the decision was made for both babies to have bottles (again this is not a post about feeding twin newborns so I won’t go into the pros and cons of this), however the surgery did not stop me sticking to my plan of combination feeding (both breast and bottle) the twins.
8. Dont’ expect privacy on the first night.
I had had a fairly difficult experience on the postnatal ward with my first child so was fully prepared for this with the twins too. In fact, although on the first night I was on the ward (this was hospital policy after any c-section) it wasn’t too bad. This time round hubby was allowed to stay too. We were then given a room to ourselves the next morning as twin mums are prioritised for the single rooms in our local hospital.
9. You are treated a bit like royalty!
Nobody asks how you birthed your babies but sooooo many people stop and talk to you and congratulate you on having twins whilst on the postnatal ward and over the next few months when you are out and about. I was even given extra breakfast on the postnatal ward to keep my energy levels up.
10. Recovery may well take less time than the advertised 6 weeks.
….but it is wise to take it easy for as long as you need to as, after all, you are recovering from major surgery. I actually had a smoother recovery from the twin c-section than my singleton one. I think this may have been partly because I was more realistic about what I could do after major surgery. It is very important to be kind to yourself in those first few weeks after surgery and to ask for help from anyone and everyone you can.
If you had a twin c-section did you have a similar or different experience to mine?
If you are expecting twins then I am sending you best wishes for the birth, whichever route you take, and beyond.