Duration of Pregnancy
The normal duration of a singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks. For a twin pregnancy it is 37 weeks. For a triplet pregnancy it is 34 weeks. Slightly less than half of all multiple births are premature.
It has generally been accepted that the more babies there are, the earlier they could be born. That means the risk of premature labor increases even more for someone expecting higher order multiples (three or more babies). Higher order multiples can not only suffer from prematurity, but they generally have a low birth weight as well. In fact, 58.2% of all multiple birth children were born 'Low Birth Weight' whereas only 6.2% of singletons were born LBW. For more information on birth statistics, see our section on the incidence of multiple births.
The interval between the birth of twins is usually brief (less than an hour). Usually five to ten minutes are allowed to elapse before the doctor starts the delivery of the second twin. The average birth weight for singletons is 7 lbs. 7 oz.; the average birth weight of twins is 5 lbs. 5 oz. A difference of two to three pounds in birth weights between twins is not unusual.
One of the major differences between a single birth and a twin birth is the type of presentation. The first twin is usually born head first. The second twin is often breech or transverse. Higher order multiples are more often delivered by cesarean section, with the interval between births of just minutes.
Gathering Advice and Information
The best way to gather practical advice and information about a pending multiple birth is to make contact with a local parents of multiples group. Parents of twins, triplets, quads, and more, have knowledge and experience which can be very comforting to expectant parents.
The emphasis of the meetings varies with the individual club and its members. In some chapters, mostly mothers attend club meetings; in others, both parents regularly attend. Mothers and fathers are always welcome as members and guests at meetings of NOMOTC-affiliated clubs. Some clubs are geared to providing a more social atmosphere for member interaction, some have more frequent philanthropic projects, while others have more educational programs and speakers.
Most parents get around to joining a club after their babies are born, but NOMOTC recommends contacting a NOMOTC member club in your area BEFORE the birth of the babies. First, parents will probably have more time to read and learn about their multiple birth prior to the babies' arrival, and most clubs have extensive libraries to help satisfy the drive to learn more. Second, it is possible to gather good, used equipment and clothing through the club, thus saving some money for other infant care necessities. Finally, parents need to establish a relationship with the members so they don't find themselves struggling through the early problems with no one to turn to for advice, hints, and suggestions.
Local clubs affiliated with NOMOTC have additional resources to provide emotional support and advice for their members. For instance, NOMOTC provides access to support information in the following areas:
- Higher Order Multiples
When local members lack experience in the situations listed above (such as special needs), NOMOTC is often able to help. Opportunities for communication between an experienced member, who has dealt with the same or a similar problem, can usually be provided at the national level.
While expectant mothers should follow their health care provider's advice and instructions, the biggest benefit to joining a parents of multiples club is the opportunity to interact with other parents who have gone through a similar experience. There is nothing as helpful to a new or expectant parent as talking to another parent who has "been there."