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Wednesday Lunch Club Q+A With Multiple Birth Expert Sharon Farmiglietti

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with multiple birth expert Sharon Farmiglietti? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, multiple birth expert Sharon Farmiglietti was on standby to answer questions about having twins, triplets or (gulp) more.

Sharon has a diploma in antenatal education and holds a current NCT Licence to practice. She runs multiple birth courses for Twins And Multiple Birth Association (TAMBA), providing couples with the information and confidence to face the journey ahead, and is responsible for training all teachers and ensuring the quality of provision.

As well as running antenatal courses for both singletons and multiples, Sharon trains childcare students to work in nurseries and has two kids of her own.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

Am I supposed to have an epidural with twins? Cath Bailey.

Sharon Famiglietti: You are more likely to be encouraged to have an epidural if you are having twins but it is entirely up to you. The reasons they may encourage you to have one is so that it is already in place in case you need a C-section but some units will set up the epidural but not administer the drugs unless required.

The other reason is that if they need to turn the second baby it can be painful. However the type of pain relief you have is your choice and they have a duty of care to you whatever you decide.

You are more likely to be encouraged to have an epidural if you are having twins but it is entirely up to you

How long does an epidural take? Cath Bailey.

Sharon Famiglietti: It takes a few minutes to set up and about 20 minutes to take full effect.

I have several questions that I need answering. I am due to give birth to non-identical twins very soon and I’ve previously had very quick labours.

1. What should I expect when giving birth to twins in general?
2. Do twins come quicker than singleton babies?
3. Can I have an elective induction?
4. I have pregnancy related pelvic weakness which causes a lot of pain and I frequently suffer from heartburn. Combined, these are making me sick. Is this normal? Anonymous question.

Sharon Famiglietti: When you are having twins, you’re more likely to have your labour monitored more carefully and there will be more medical professionals present than for a singleton birth. The length of labour will be similar to that of a singleton as the first part of labour when the cervix dilates and the opening is made for your babies to arrive is the same for one baby as for two.

When you are having twins, you’re more likely to have your labour monitored more carefully

Induction can lead to more intervention later on, so it is normally only done if there are medical grounds to do so.

Pelvic pain is unfortunately quite common and occurs because the pelvis needs to be more flexible for birth but sometimes it can relax too much and become unstable. Ask your midwife to refer you to a physiotherapist who should be able to help.

If your previous labours were quick, talk to your midwife about a plan of action if the twins arrive fast too. She should be able to provide some emergency numbers so that they will reach you if it is so fast you can't make it in.

Sickness is more common with multiples because of the additional pressure on the body but you should see a medical professional if you are unable to hold down fluids or food.

Is there any way to have a natural birth with twins? I've heard it's always a c-section. Anonymous question.

Sharon Famiglietti: About 50% of twins will be born vaginally. So, yes, a natural twin birth is possible. It will depend on the type of twins, their positions and your own choice. If you have two placentas and the first twin, which is nearest the cervix, is head down, you have a good chance of having a vaginal birth.

I've always loved running but now I'm pregnant with triplets I'm worried about how much exercise I should do. Is it the same as normal pregnancies? Anonymous question.

Sharon Famiglietti: All exercise in pregnancy should be taken with care as pushing your heart rate up too high can reduce the oxygen to your babies and your body circulates a hormone called relaxing which increases flexibility in your joints and makes injury more likely. In addition your centre of balance is constantly changing so you are more likely to fall.

Triplets will place a higher strain on your body and your likelihood of premature labour is high so err on the side of caution and get advice from your consultant. I am a runner too so understand it can be frustrating but you will be able to get back to it once your babies are here.

All exercise in pregnancy should be taken with care as pushing your heart rate up too high can reduce the oxygen to your babies

Do twins tend to settle into a rhythm – I’m worried that I'll be constantly awake as I'll settle one and then the other will start crying and wake the first one! Anonymous question.

Sharon Famiglietti: You will be reassured to know that a sleep study of twins showed that twins who sleep together are no more likely to wake each other than those that sleep separately. Having twins can be more tiring so accept any offers of help you get. If you feed them at the same time they are more likely to sleep at the same time.

If you have a twins club near you get in touch as it will be great for tips from experienced twin parents. TAMBA also runs a free advice line called Twinline which is manned by parents who have been there and done it and they can offer support and advice too.

I trying to conceive with my husband at the moment, but my mum is a twin and so is my grandmother. Does this mean that I'll have twins? And would I have further multiple births? I've heard you have a higher chance of having another multiple birth once you've had one. Anonymous question.

Sharon Famiglietti: Your likelihood of having non- identical twins is higher if your mother or grandmother were non-identical twins. The incidence of twins increases with maternal age and you are more likely to have twins the more children you have.

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