Birth and Beyond

Lesson 1 of 8: “Birth”

Welcome to Section Four, the final and longest section of the course.  Included are some long and  several shorter lessons covering such topics as bath and massage, looking after your spousal relationship, and managing your helpers.  Let’s begin with perhaps the most pressing topic now:  Birth!

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Do you know, yet, if you are having a C-section or a vaginal birth?  In any case, if you are beyond 30 weeks, you should definitely pack your bags, just in case!  Click the icon to the left to print off a suggested packing list.

Audio Note

At this point, you have probably done considerable reading about labour and delivery, so we won’t get into a great deal of detail about that (NB, if you have not yet done so, I strongly encourage you both to read one or more of the books found on Amazon. Most have excellent sections on what to expect during labour and delivery. Multiple Births Canada also has free fact sheets for members).  Suffice it to say that there are good reasons to try for a vaginal delivery.

For one thing, the drugs associated with a C-section tend to make babies drowsy, which can negatively impact your newborns’ success with breastfeeding in those first critical 24 hours.

Twins in utero with c-section incision (click to enlarge)

Twins in utero with c-section incision (click to enlarge)

Vaginal delivery generally offers physical benefits for babies, of passing through the birth canal. 

(With multiples, there is only one labour.  No matter how many babies you are carrying, the cervix stays dilated after the first labour until each baby is born.  The order of birth is both/all the babies first, and then the placentas last.)

Women also tend to recover from a vaginal delivery more quickly.  And although they may seem “quick and convenient”, C-sections are significant surgery with the cutting of major abdominal muscles. Recovery is a minimum of six weeks with no heavy lifting allowed during that time frame. For healthy twins pregnancies, a C-section is NOT “safer”. 

That being said, if there are medical reasons your doctor believes indicate a C-section, you need not fret about it.  Triplets or higher tend to be an automatic C-section, and even in twins pregnancies, if both babies are breech, a section is usually preferred.  Again, if you have not already done so, I strongly suggest you do some reading about and chatting with  other POMs about both delivery methods, and then compile a list of questions and concerns for your Health Care Provider (HCP).

If you are beyond 26 weeks, you will also want to make an appointment for a hospital visit in order to fill out any necessary paperwork.  This is a great time to talk with the anesthetist about medication during labour and delivery.

Generally with twins or more, hospitals prefer to give an epidural or spinal.  However, you can still be an active participant in your labour, if you are planning to deliver vaginally.  Specialists now titrate the medication to just the right amount, allowing you to feel the pressure of your contractions, but not the pain.

Birth plans are often all the rage with singleton pregnancies.  With multiples, there are more unknowns, however, it doesn’t hurt to consider various options and put together a one page outline of some basics to discuss with your HCP.  Click here or here for sample birth plans for twins.  You can also contact me directly, and I would be happy to talk to you more about birth plannning, if this is a topic you are interested in learning more about.


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lease take a moment to talk with your partner about your hopes, fears and concerns for your babies’ birthday.  Then click below to watch two short YouTube clips showing a twins vaginal delivery and a triplet C-section.

 

 

This couple documented their journey through vaginal twins delivery with photos, video footage and some music.  As you watch this “home made” keepsake posted on YouTube, consider what this couple chose to include, and what they left out. Why do you think they did that?  How might you do things differently? 

What questions about vaginal birth do you still have?

Graphic Content Warning! A 5-minute home video of a triplets c-section hospital birth, filmed by dad, using an iPhone!  Dad checks in on Mom periodically throughout the delivery, and even captures one of the triplets being delivered in its placental sac! Graphic, but very interesting video.

 

For more birth videos, check out this site.

If you are hoping for a vaginal delivery, something you can do to prepare for this is “Perineal Massage”, which is basically a 5-10 minute daily “massage” of the perineal muscles. I know it sounds very exciting for the partners, but partners: please note that my own says to tell you that the sexy novelty wears off after the first three nights, then it becomes a chore! 🙂

That being said, doing the massage each night really does “loosen things up down there”; the idea is to ease vaginal birth and reduce the possibility of tearing during the birth.  You can use sweet almond oil, available at most pharmacies (in the first aid section) or your local health food store.

Later on, you can use the same oil for infant massage (we’ll get into this in a future lesson).

For more info in Perineal massage, check out this page.

Something you should also be aware of are the “after effects” — physically speaking — of a multiples birth.  Twin skin is one such example.  Losing 15 or more lbs of baby all at once may leave your tummy skin just a little more saggy than the average singleton birth!  It will take some time for the skin and muscles to tighten up again, even with a vaginal delivery.  Do not be alarmed, this is totally normal.  (Hint for dads/partners: Some consider these “battle scars” sexy!!!  :)))  For more info on “twin skin”, including real life belly shots, check out this site.

When you are ready to do so, please move on to the next lesson, “Handling your Newborns“.

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