Two or more....an update on multiple births 

So, you’ve had your first ultrasound and discovered you’re having twins.

Before panic sets in, arm yourself with some useful information, tips and access to resources so you can get the best help and enjoy the double dose of love and joy you’re about to receive.

By Josie Gagliano.

If you’re about to become a mum to multiples, welcome to a club whose membership is increasing. Multiple births, especially twin births, have been rising in recent years according to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The report, titled Australia's Mothers and Babies, provides information on births in Australia from perinatal data collections for each state and territory. The latest report shows a snapshot of births in 2005 and indicates that of all births that year, 1.7% were a multiple pregnancy. That figure has been the same since 2000, although actual twin births have varied from 3974 in 2000 to 4175 in 2004.

The rise in twin births can be attributed to a number of factors including delay in childbearing, use of fertility drugs, and assisted reproductive technology.

Andrew Pesce, spokesman for the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and chairman for National Pregnancy Counselling Expert Advisory Committee, says: “There has been an increase in twin pregnancies due to an average increase in maternal age, treatment of fertility problems, and possibly the use of routine folic acid supplements.”

The next question you’re likely to have about your twin pregnancy is how you’ll give birth. You may assume that undergoing a caesarian section is your only option. This is not the case, according to Dr Pesce.

“The majority of women expecting twins can deliver normally, especially if they have given birth normally previously. However, certain factors, if present, may make a caesarian delivery a safer option for one or both babies.

“If a woman carries twins to 38 weeks, without problems, and the first twin is presenting head first, the chances of a safe, normal delivery are very good.”

Once you have delivered your beautiful bundles your attention will turn to what happens when you get them home. Make full use of the experienced midwives, nurses, and specialists like lactation consultants and even physiotherapists available in hospital maternity wards. During your stay you will be referred to your local early childhood branch and should receive at least one home visit from an early childhood nurse. Your nurse will be a source of hands-on information for all those questions you suddenly have about breastfeeding, sleeping (yours and the twins’) and settling.

The other big concern mums of twins will have is breastfeeding. Even women who are already mothers will find the concept of breastfeeding two hungry babies a challenge, but it is entirely possible.

Judy Kotowski, Tommee Tippee’s resident midwife offers her expert tips on breastfeeding twins. Firstly, she suggests contacting the Multiple Birth Association and listening to mums who have twins as they will have the practical experience, with the Australian Breastfeeding Association also a great resource.

“Remember that everyone is different and there are many ways to deal with breastfeeding twins. It may seem daunting to try and breastfeed two babies at once and I would suggest that you start with feeding them one at a time and in the underarm position. Then gradually build up to feeding them together once your milk is in and you have had a couple of days practice,” says Judy.

Rocking chairs are wonderful for breastfeeding one baby at a time, however a breastfeeding pillow is recommended to comfortably accommodate two babies. New Zealand company Babyfirst sells arguably the best designed twin breastfeeding pillow online.

Judy debunks some myths about breastfeeding. First time mums may believe their milk is too watery or not strong enough to feed their baby.

Says Judy: “Breast milk is always perfectly balanced for your baby. It might look watery, bluish or creamy because it changes as the feed progresses. Think of a 3 course meal – entrée, main meal and then dessert.”

The many benefits of breast milk have long been praised, and Judy offers further proof.

“Breast milk is a living fluid which contains antibodies, hormones and enzymes and can not be fully replicated. It is designed for each individual baby and changes over time as the baby grows. Infant formula is stagnant and designed for any baby regardless of age.”

For online help, Tommee Tippee offers support from Judy via the link: www.tommeetippee.com.au/midwife-enquiry.asp

It’s also very important during your twin pregnancy to feel you are looking after yourself. Although you are nurturing two beings in your belly, it’s not necessary to eat for three! Equally important is nurturing your body on the outside. Your belly will be stretching markedly more than a singleton pregnancy so Bio Oil and creams like New Bloom pregnancy body cream by Perfect Potion are especially lovely. Do keep in mind though that stretch marks are almost certainly a given.

Enjoy your new bundles of joy!

 
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