Childbirth Classes and Twins
I'm expecting twins. Should I go to regular childbirth classes, or do I need something different?
Although regular childbirth classes may have some useful information for you, most of them don't adequately prepare future parents of multiples. Many of these classes assume there will be a natural, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, which is often not the case with multiple births. In fact, close to 50 percent of twins are delivered by Cesarean section, which may not be addressed in a regular childbirth class.
Talk with your doctor about his or her expectations for your delivery. If you agree to try for a vaginal birth, a regular childbirth class may have some helpful tips for you, but you'll still need to get information on the uniqueness of a multiple delivery.
Fortunately, more and more classes for parents of multiples are becoming available. For example, the Marvelous Multiples program, started by a nurse and mother of multiples, teaches parents about the special concerns and complications of a twins pregnancy, signs of preterm labor, labor and delivery (both vaginal and Cesarean), breastfeeding multiples, and managing twin newborns. Check their website to see if a program is available in your area.
Your local hospital or Mothers of Multiples support group should also have information on classes for parents expecting multiples. If you know other parents who are expecting twins, you could even hire a childbirth educator who specializes in multiples to meet with all of you together.
Also, keep in mind that there's a good chance your twins will not be born near their due date. A "normal" pregnancy spans 40 weeks or so, but more than 50 percent of all twins and almost all triplets (and other higher-order multiples) will arrive before 37 weeks gestation. Many expectant mothers of multiples are also ordered on bed rest and are not able to get out and about to attend classes or prepare for their babies' births. For that reason, you should take your childbirth preparation classes in the second trimester.
Every experience is different. My twins were born at 39 weeks through vaginal delivery and never went to the NICU, but other parents have had different experiences. Talk to other mothers who have given birth to multiples, but also keep in mind that there are plenty of "scare stories" out there. By educating yourself as much as possible and being open to the unexpected, you'll be well prepared for your own unique pregnancy and delivery.