Most doctors declare twins at full term once they reach 37 weeks but don’t be alarmed if you’ve just been told your twins (or triplets) will be coming earlier. It’s normal and hospitals are trained to deal with this all the time.
The purpose of this blog post is to walk you through why twins can come early and what support is available if your babies come early.
So Why Do Twins Come Early?
In most cases there are a few things doctors are trying to mitigate against or problems identified when they look to bring twins earlier. These can include:
- Decreasing blood flow from the placenta to one twin
- Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)
- Additional pressure on the cervix
- Rupture of the membranes causing risk of infection
- Pre-existing diabetes or gestational diabetees
- Twin to twin transfusion syndrome
- Identified bleeding from the placenta caused by placenta praevia or abruption of the placenta
- Fatal abnormalities
What Happens if you’re Expecting Twins Early?
Generally the more earlier the babies, the more assistance will be required. If your twins are born at:
- 35 weeks they will likely require assistance with breastfeeding as they won’t have developed their sucking mechanism yet
- 32 weeks may require assistance with breathing via ventilation and possibly other temporary assistance in other areas
- 28 weeks will have the above and may have life threatening problems.
Please note that everyone’s experience is different and the above should only be used as a high level guide. Please consult your doctor who will be able to properly advise you based on your medical history and scans.
What Happens if I go into Pre-Mature Labour with Twins?
If you have any early signs of labour or bleeding, contact your hospital immediately.
Depending on how many weeks pregnant you are, the hospital may look to slow or stop your contractions by giving you a drug to relax your uterus and also look to put you on bed rest. The hope here is to keep the babies inside you as long as possible to continue their development. By keeping the babies in longer, this reduces how long they will need to spend in hospital.
Our twins were born at 37.5 weeks but my wife started experiencing terrible pains around the 32 week mark. The hospital basically advised that it is better to manage her pain through pain killers rather than have them early and have to manage greater problems such as helping them breath.
If the hospital team are unable to stop your contractions, they will then look to create a plan on the best way to get your babies out whether that be vaginally or through Caesarian section.
What Support is Available for Early Pregnancies?
The good news is that hospital teams are equipped to deal with these situations all the time. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU for short, are found in all major hospitals throughout the world.
These hospitals specifically deal with babies born early and have all the tools and tricks to help your baby (or babies!) grow to become a normal and healthy baby.
Book in for a Tour
Most hospitals provide tours for expecting mothers of their hospital to help them get comfortable with where they will be having their babies.
We did one and it provided a lot of reassurance knowing where the birthing suite was, where the babies would go in the event there were complications and where my wife and babies would go after birth.
Worried About your Twins?
If you are worried about the health of your twins (or triplets) don’t be afraid to either pick up the phone and call your hospital where you are having your babies. There is generally an on-call midwife nurse who is able to assist with triaging.
If your hospital does not have an on-call midwife nurse to help with triaging, ask your partner or a friend to drive you to the nearest hospital emergency who will be able to assist with getting you to a hospital to make sure your beautiful babies are safe.