When we decided to add a second baby to our family, we waited, and planned, and then got a huge surprise. We were expecting spontaneous identical twins! Apparently this has a 0.4% chance of happening, so it’s not something we factored into our planning. Nevertheless, we hoped for a long and healthy pregnancy, just like any other parents. Unmedicated vaginal birth was not new to me, as I had delivered our son naturally at a birth center. I pushed for about 3 hours in the tub, then got out and delivered him on a birth chair. He weighed 9 pounds exactly! I figured there was no way I could gestate two 9 pound twins, so I was hoping it might be even easier to birth the twins naturally, as long as they were healthy and in the right positions.
All was well leading up to the end of my pregnancy, and at 34 weeks while doing the routine Strep B test, I asked them to check and see if I was dilated at all. We were all surprised to find out I was dilated to 6 cm just walking around, not contracting or anything! Needless to say, they sent me straight over to Labor and Delivery for monitoring, then decided to admit me. For identical twins, my doctors wanted me to go no longer than 36 weeks, as the placenta can begin to deteriorate around that time.
I was sat the hospital for 2 weeks, and, the afternoon before a scheduled induction, (which I really was hoping to avoid,) I began to have some real and steady contractions. In the early evening, they moved me over to Delivery and attached a ridiculous number of monitors. I had discussed the possibility of unmedicated birth with all the practitioners and the answer was always the same: “If both you and the babies look good, we’ll let you try.” The babies were doing fine with strong contractions, but the medical team was still cautious. We agreed to place an epidural “just in case.” About 9 pm the Anesthesiologist put the epidural in, which we tested and then left unmedicated. They broke my water right after that and I labored for several hours with intense contractions.
Around 11:30 pm they wheeled me down to the Operating Room. Contractions slowed a little and then fired back up just before midnight. I started pushing but I happened to look up at the OR clock, and I knew that if I kept pushing the way I was, my babies would not only be born on different days, but also in different months! I did NOT want to explain that for the rest of their lives, so I asked if I could wait just a few minutes until after midnight to push out the first baby. At 12:04 Grant entered the world, weighing 6 lbs 6 oz. I remember doing a fist pump after pushing him out. I felt so proud!! Logan arrived at 12:10, a robust 7 pounds exactly. I can’t begin to imagine how big they would have gotten if I had gone longer than 36 weeks!
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My Tips for Achieving a Natural Twin Birth
–Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth This book convinced me that I was capable of giving birth naturally. Before getting pregnant, I would always say I was absolutely getting an epidural. After reading this book, I learned more about the birthing process and the natural painkillers our bodies release when they go into labor.
–Have realistic expectations. Statistically, most twin births are not vaginal, let alone natural. I felt comfortable with this option because I had no complications and the babies responded well to contractions.
–Hire a doula or take birth preparation classes. Lamaze, Hypnobirthing, visualization, and similar approaches can help you stay calm when contractions hit hard. I would shut my eyes, try and breathe deeply and slowly, unfurrow my brow, and stand back and let the contractions do their job.
–Interview your medical team. Yes, you are the patient, but they are there to work with and for YOU as well. Ask how comfortable they are with an unmedicated birth, and see if you can work together to approach getting as close as possible to the birth you are hoping for.
About the Author
Michelle Cheever MA, TLC’s Denver’s Associate, is the happy mother of three very tall boys, the oldest a singleton and the youngest identical twins. After receiving her Masters in Counseling Psychology, she worked inside a mega-jail for 3 years, providing mental health evaluation and treatment for criminals and substance abusers, a skill set which has actually come in handy when raising kids. Michelle dedicated herself to sifting through the sea of information and finding the resources that mattered to parents and caregivers that are joining the family of multiples. She is so happy to now be able to provide in-person support to other new and expectant parents of multiples. You can reach Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Denver services.