I was lucky enough to have a relatively ‘text book’ twin pregnancy with three extremes of trimesters. My first being full of excitement, fear, anxiety, disbelief and last but not least (as is common with multiple pregnancies)- the dreaded nausea. Whilst a sign of a healthy pregnancy (some might say), it left me sofa-bound and feeling very sorry for myself, indeed. For an active and busy person running a home and a business...Work? Are you kidding, eating? Er.. No thanks, even bread made me want to vomit. What was I actually thinking getting into this?
My second trimester was nothing but a dream, the ‘honeymoon period’ some might describe, including a long flight to Singapore then Europe, regular visits to the gym, bootcamp and often forgetting there were actually 3 of us. I was lulled into a sense of how easy and effortless pregnancy is. I mean, what was all the fuss about? Toughen up ladies?! little was I to be prepared for what was to come. The dreaded third trimester... WTF! It’s like being hit by ton of bricks, reality hit. The bump really started to grow, the tiredness, the mood swings, the back pain and more frustratingly, the inability to look after my toddler daughter.
Luckily I had been persuaded by my incredible hypnobirthing teacher - Katie Kempster throughout our refresher course to enlist a doula to support me through the birth. THANK GOD I did. Something that my northern English tight pocket was not happy about, in particular being in the process of buying a bigger house, but it felt right. Having sadly lost my own mother in my last pregnancy, having no family support, knowing there were two in there and wanting to birth the boys naturally, combined with Julia’s (the Doula’s) excellent reputation, it was an no-brainer.
I had been heavily into hypnobirthing in my last pregnancy following the ‘life changing’ course with Katie Kempster from Harmonic Hypnobirthing (Hypnobirthing Australia Program ) and I had a really solid natural no-intervention birth with my daughter, a shortish four hour active labour, a calm baby and a quick recovery. I knew I would need more support one-to-one this time to achieve my natural twin birth. The thought of pushing out two humans was a little overwhelming, to say the least!
I used a lot of the hypnobirthing techniques throughout my third trimester including pinning up visuals of twins in perfect positioning, visualising my birth story and placing affirmations on the wall in front of my bed. I had lavender baths daily to soothe my middle back pain with ‘surge of the sea’ and ‘birthing affirmations’ tracks on my iTunes on repeat. Lastly I regularly did positions fromspinningbabies.com to encourage good positioning. Every scan I went to was text book, the boys were pretty much growing at the same rate, were in separate sacs with their own placentas and as we closed nearer to the end they were both head down and perfectly positioned. It literally from a medical perspective could not have been any better for a natural birth. I felt grateful, I was clearly doing something right, even if I felt like hell on earth!
I went through the public system which I was pretty happy with but having a doula meant that we worked on the natural birth preferences together and I was able to navigate any tough conversations with her guidance, including not having an epidural and aiming for a water birth. These are two very unheard of goals in twin births, I’m sad to say. There were compromises though, including that we agreed to induce at 38 weeks as the risks after that were significant enough for me to make that call. I also agreed to continuous external monitoring and/or fetal scalp clip if indicated, a managed third stage, agreeing to be out of the bath for Twin B and a cannula, which also kept the obstetricians pretty happy too.
As we drew nearer the 38 weeks, calls and texts to my doula became more regular and handling my toddler became tougher. The words ‘struggle street’ came to mind! Each day became more of a challenge but I soldiered on, tried to stay positive and manage each day as it came. At 37 weeks I went for my last check up and decided enough was enough and wanted to get things moving so I ended up having a ‘stretch and sweep’. I had also been for acupuncture to help soften the cervix and help my body go into natural labour (this definately worked FYI). By the time I got to this appointment I was already 3 cm dilated but no contractions- are you kidding, come on boys get a move on! (I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be saying this FYI). What then followed was nausea and diarrhoea, commonly signs associated to pre-labour and unfortunately this lead to me having severe dehydration which required me to go to hospital and go on two IV drips. A little spooked after this, I got it in my mind that I was happy to wait for the induction and actually felt confident that I could create, with the help of my hubby and doula, a relaxed calm and safe environment in one of the fantastic new birthing suites at Gosford Public Hospital. I was right.
The day could not have gone more perfectly. It literally was one of the most epic and mind blowing days of my life. ‘Incredible’ and ‘out of this world’ are phrases that don’t even come near to how amazing this day was and what made it so amazing was that I was fully present, able to move freely the whole time and spend time with my boys immediately after the birth, feeding and having skin-to-skin. Not to mention I could also get up and have a nice shower afterwards. Who’d have thought it heh? A normal, vaginal twin birth where a woman’s body was allowed to do what it was designed to do and guess what ladies and gentlemen? It came to the table in FULL force.
I was already 3 to 4 centimetres dilated when I walked in, or rather wheel chaired in! I thought that the induction would only involve breaking my waters, so after setting up the room with infusers and my affirmation posters and visuals, we moved on to breaking my waters which lead me into having small surges. After 1.5 hours and moving into the shower, it was then suggested that we move things along with a minimal dose of syntocinon. This appeared to be enough and my surges were building momentum and after some time we moved into the bath. To say this was a relief, was an understatement. Being on all fours in the warm bath with my husband pouring water on my back and my doula to support me was soothing.
There were a few things that were key in managing the pain throughout the labour. Firstly and primarily, working with my doula to manage my breathing making sure I was breathing slowly, calmly and to be kept as centred as possible throughout surges - our great connection really helped with this and was absolutely essential in keeping me away from non-natural pain relief. After a build up of some intense surges, I began to bear down and within a few pushes my Twin A was born in the bath (much to the amazement of my midwife and doula!). He was handed to me under water and through my legs in what was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
After a few minutes of holding him in my arms, they wheeled a bed over to the bath to get me ready for Twin B’s arrival. The main concern is always the positioning of Twin B and making sure he stayed in position, so I moved pretty swiftly into the bed when asked, as I was fully aware of this (#knowledgeispower).
A quick check of Twin B, his positioning then 20 minutes later the surges started to come and just before he was born (30 mins or so) my membranes were ruptured by the registrar to further support the birth. I was still on my back at this stage and the midwife then realised I needed gravity to get him to move down, so eventually I turned round on all fours on the bed. His heart rate started to slow, so I pushed for dear life and my Twin B arrived safe and sound in yet another mind blowing birth. I literally had done it, I couldn’t believe it! I was literally awestruck at what had just happened. I looked at my doula and my midwife (who I think was in tears) and then looked at the obstetrician who also looked very happy and told him that it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and couldn’t believe how perfectly it had gone!
After birthing my rather large and fused placenta, we had some amazing skin-to-skin and feeding time with the boys and all their checks were done. They came in at HUGE sizes for twins and their gestation. I could not believe it... Austin Mark Stobbs was born 14:firstname.lastname@example.org followed by Hunter John Stobbs at 14:45 @3.36kg.
Once I had showered and had some food, I was taken up to what is commonly labelled ‘the penthouse room’, the biggest private room in the hospital with a fridge, microwave and a big bathroom. To say I was happy was an understatement - this was pure luck as it just happened to be free for us. The next day we received a visit from our obstetrician, registrar and the midwife who came up to congratulate us on such a successful birth and to say how privileged they felt to be a part of it. Rarely do they see twins born naturally in such a way and they said they were still all on a ‘high’ from the whole experience, which was amazing to hear.
After we met the team, I started reflecting back on all the preparation I had done for the birth, I took out my phone and re-read my birth story that I had envisioned and I’m not even kidding, it happened word for word... Event by event. I sat there in shock and shared it with my husband. Everything I had dreamt of had come true, I felt truely grateful. With the right preparation, mindset, knowledge and support, our bodies are capable of incredible things and that day proved it.
Here are my top tips if you are looking for a low-intervention twin birth:
- Engage in Hypnobirthing Australia course and training - the knowledge you will gain from this is essential in achieving your low-intervention birth.
- Enlist the support of a doula - the knowledge and support (both emotional and practical) is a no-brainer and worth every penny in particular in navigating conversations with obstetricians etc.
- Write your perfect natural birthing story and read it regularly
- Be prepared for your 3rd trimester with support with housework, family and practitioners (Pregnancy Acupuncturist, Osteopath) - its important to minimise stress.
- Regularly encourage good positioning through some of the exercises on spinning babies.com