Ask the experts

Having Twins

'Double trouble – twins and how to survive them’.

Emma Mahony has over eight years of experience writing for The Times on parenting issues and specialises in twins. A twin herself, and having given birth to twins, Emma also published the successful ‘Double trouble – twins and how to survive them’.

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.

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 fetus 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.

For advice on twins & multiple births, speak with Emma Mahony on

0906 199 4701

£1.02/min. Network rates vary. 18+. T&Cs at SP: Greatvine.com 0207 440 9060

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