Most parents have no idea they are expecting twins until their first ultrasound scan. The news usually comes as a complete surprise. You might experience a variety of feelings such as joy, anxiety, excitement and surprise before the news fully sinks in. It's natural to feel a little shell-shocked to be expecting more than one baby.
If twins run in your family, you might not be quite as astonished.
You might consider joining a dedicated group for parents expecting twins. It can be reassuring to meet others who are expecting twins and exchange thoughts and information with them. Ask your midwife for tips and guidance. It's natural that the expecting parents should need more time and support to prepare for two babies instead of one. Also read about Breastfeeding twins
Twin pregnancies are unusual
For a certain period, there was an increase in the incidence of twins and even triplets, due to the IVF methods used. IVF procedures have recently been modified and improved, so now the incidence of multiple pregnancies in Sweden has dropped again. Slightly older women have a higher tendency to have twins. There are currently about 1,500 twin births in Sweden per year.
Extra monitoring of multiple pregnancies
Needless to say, it's good to find out early how many babies you are carrying. When you are carrying more than one baby, it is extra important to monitor their development in the womb. For this reason, you should have regular ultrasound scans to check how they are developing. These scans also check how the babies are positioned in relation to each other, whether they have separate placentas or are sharing one between them, and if they are growing in separate amniotic sacs or are sharing one. It is difficult to determine during the pregnancy whether twins are identical or fraternal. Fraternal twins are far more common.
Take care of yourself - there'll be more of everything
Prepare for the possibility of taking time off work before giving birth. When you're expecting two babies, you'll probably be more tired than if you're expecting only one. Accept all the help you can from your partner, family and friends.
Carrying twins means more of everything. You will eat more, rest more and gain more wait. During a multiple pregnancy, it is normal for your weight to increase proportionally. Here is an article offering tips on eating healthily during pregnancy.
The normal pregnancy symptoms may be stronger, and women expecting twins are commonly offered early sick leave so that the babies can develop in a calm, peaceful environment. You can read more on the website of the Social Insurance Agency.
Twins and labour
Gather your resources together before going into labour. Is there someone in your family who can assist you after the twins are born? You will appreciate all the help you can get at the beginning.
If there are no complications, twins can normally be born in the normal way. However, a C-section might be considered if there are complications, for instance if the baby is in the wrong position. Roughly half of all twins are delivered by C-section. The delivery method is decided on an individual basis. Ask your midwife to explain the delivery procedure and how it could change.
Read more about C-section here.
In addition, the babies are often born slightly earlier, on average two to three weeks. If the twins require special care at the neonatal unit, they are always admitted together. In this case, the parents are allowed stay with the babies and care for them as much as they want.
In some cases twins are born immediately after one another, while in other cases there is a pause between the first and second baby. The mother's body sometimes needs to rest before delivering the second one. After the first baby is born, there is a lot of extra space in the womb for the second baby before the contractions start again.
For this reason, it is important that the midwife helps the baby into the right position. This is usually with the head downwards, although sometimes the baby comes out bottom first. The initial stages of labour are the same as for ordinary births, but more staff will be present in the room when the twins are actually expelled. Read more about the three stages of labour.
Returning home with two little miracles and a new family
When you and your partner bring your two babies home, you will need to take care of yourself as much as possible. Rest, sleep after lunch and ask for help. Now that you have two little people depending on you, you must make sure you have enough energy. Read about twins and how you can help them both develop optimally.
You can breastfeed one baby at a time or both together. There are several ways to hold twins while breastfeeding them, and you need to find positions and habits that both you and the babies feel comfortable with. Try starting by feeding one at a time so you can get a clear idea of each baby's behaviour while feeding. Breastfeeding two babies may initially feel a little overwhelming. Get all the help you can by the hospital staff before going home, and be patient with all three of you, since you are all learning together. Read more about Breastfeeding
Double supplies of almost everything
Carrying twins means there is more of everything. Try to prepare as much as possible and get the most important things ready before the babies' arrival. It will make things easier for you and help prepare for the multiple arrivals. Some items will need to be bought before the babies are born, and you will need two of many things instead of one.
You will need baby car seats, cots (even if the babies will initially be sharing the same cradle) and baby chairs and many more things. Read more about useful items for newborn babies: The only shopping list you will need
A good way of containing your costs is to borrow things or buy second hand. Second hand baby clothes also have other advantages: they are softer, and because they have been washed they are unlikely to contain chemicals and toxins.
You will need a twin pram. There are several models available, where the babies are either positioned side by side or one in front of the other. Tandem models, where the babies sit one in front of the other with one of the seats raised up, are more suitable for different aged siblings. Choose the type of pram that best suits your practical needs. Will you mainly use it in the city or the countryside? Do you have a car? If so, how big is it?
Read more about choosing a pram.