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Twins: Your Questions Answered

Emma Mahony, author of ‘Double trouble – twins and how to survive them’ answers your questions on having twins.

In this article

Some FAQ's on twins, Emma provides you with some great twins help to make your life a little less stressful. Read on for more twin advice.

Will I be able to breastfeed twins?

Yes and double yes. There are a number of different positions to help mothers of twins with breastfeeding, so she may feed them together (the Double Football Hold where you hold both the babies heads at your breasts while their bodies lie either side of your body for example). Many mothers choose to feed the babies separately in the early days in order to spend special time with each and to help get the hang of breastfeeding. If you think that the principles of latching on are the same as a single baby, it’s just the business of feeding takes twice as long.

Once you have got the hang of breastfeeding – and you will need extra support from family to feed yourself enough because it is recommended that you eat up to 4,000 calories a day – then you will learn to wind one baby over the shoulder while feeding the other. The most vital piece of equipment you will need is the V-shape pillow. Makes sure a large glass of water and the tv remote are within reach.

Do I have to have a C-section if I am expecting twins?

No and double no. You will be dubbed, as “high risk” expecting twins, and you will be given a lot of information about how the second twin has a “lower apgar score” – a test for alertness on birth - but don’t be put off or talked into a C-section unless you want one. There is no reason whatsoever why you should be cheated out of a normal birth – which is often easier for the Mother on one level because you are birthing two smaller babies than a larger singleton. Different hospitals have different protocols (allowing you to wait for a specific amount of time of say, 20 minutes, for baby number two to arrive) so do ask questions before you make up your mind.

You can even have a home birth with twins if you employ an independent (private) midwife as I did (see http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/). If you want to insist on an NHS normal twin birth, and are finding it difficult to get your hospital to agree, contact the organisation the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (www.aims.org.uk) who will advise you how to proceed.

What is the best way to deal with a major tantrum from two-year-old twins in a public place?

In order to know how to handle toddle tantrums you must first assess what the cause of the tantrum is. Only then can you best decide how to handle it. There are all sorts of reasons why your twins may be throwing tantrums. Tantrumming has nothing to do with your parenting; it is an important stage in a toddler expressing his will as part of the process of distancing from the mothership. It may also be due to things such as boredom, tiredness, or frustration that they do not have your full attention perhaps. Once they have started and are in full-blown mode, there is little you can do on the reasoning front – they are like storms that need to blow their emotional course, until finally the wind dies down. What you must ensure you do, do however is to stay in control, remain calm, do not shout and never give in! If the cause is obvious you may also try removing them from it. Finally don't feel embarrassed - toddler tantrums are common, so ignore those who stare!

You will start to learn that there are trigger places (queues in supermarkets, hair pulling when out and about) and fairness has nothing to do with it. If all else fails, carry a supply of Chupa-chups sugarless lollies in your bag and offer them as dummies to them both before the whole thing kicks off. Back home, however, allow them to throw themselves on the floor in histrionics and never give in.

Can a twin pregnancy be missed at 8-weeks/12 weeks scan?

Eight weeks scan is unusual unless there is IVF – and then often the radiographer doesn’t tell the parent that there is a second embryo present because of vanishing twin syndrome (where early on in the pregnancy the embryo is miscarried without any symptoms and the pregnancy progresses healthily to produce one healthy baby). Until the onset of scanning, this syndrome was never picked up because by 12 weeks the incidence of it happening is vastly reduced.

At the 12 week scan, particularly with current scanners becoming more and more accurate there is little chance that a second heartbeat and foetus will be missed, so unless you have consciously decided not to take that scan at all (which is quite within your rights) then there is little chance it would be missed. Do bear in mind that I am a twin who was born without detection until labour, so for hundreds of year’s twins were born healthily without scans.

One of my newborn twins is smaller than the other is this normal?

Fraternal or two-egg twins are just like two brothers, two sisters or brother and sister, and therefore are subject to the normal fluctuations in birth weight. In addition with identical twins, there is also an issue over which twin might be getting a little more food from the placenta because of their position in the womb and the way the chorion, or cord which feeds the twins from the mother’s blood supply, divides to feed them.

Identical twins who are born at different weights will soon even out at breastfeeding. Having twins of different sizes if perfectly normal, and may even contribute to the bonding process and to establishing their different identities early on as one is referred to as the small twin, and the other as the larger.

For individual twins help from Emma, please contact her through herGreatvine profile.

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About the author

Emma Mahony
Twins & Multiple Births expert

Emma has over eight years experience writing for The Times on parenting issues. Mum of twins and a twin herself, she wrote ‘Double Trouble – Twins and How to Survive Them’.

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