Twinning: Some Twin Moms Definitely Go For The Natural Birth Fantasy

pregnant woman with stethoscopeHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

Last week, I wrote about own desire to go straight for the c-section when delivering my twins. But both my cousin Rena and friend Christina are heroes in my eyes, because I couldn’t contemplate going through what they did to bring their twins into the world.

After having her first child vaginally, my cousin Rena delivered her twins vaginally, and hearing her story while I was pregnant with my own set of twins reinforced my decision to schedule a C. My cousin is very much like me in that she tells it like it is. I knew that more than anyone, she’d tell me the real deal without an ounce of sugarcoating, and that’s exactly what I needed.

Rena told me that despite one twin being breech, she chose to try for a natural delivery anyway because she knew it would be a faster recovery. Her firstborn was only 17 months at the time, so she knew that once the twins arrived, she wasn’t going to get a whole lot of down time.

Being that Twin B was breech, Rena says she opted for “vaginal delivery and manipulation, not really knowing what to expect.” My cousin differs from me in that she isn’t afraid of the unexpected, nor is she a wimp when it comes to pain—she delivered her firstborn without an epidural. (I have yet to hear of a drug-free birth without gasping, begging to hear the birth story, and holding that woman in very high esteem forever afterwards.)

The doctors gave Rena an epidural and set up for an emergency c-section, should it be necessary. She delivered Twin A vaginally with little complications. But then came the “manipulation” part. Rena’s husband told her that the doctor had her arm inside her “up to her elbow” and two nurses were on either side of Rena, pushing counterclockwise and jumping down on her trying to get Twin B to move. Despite having just delivered vaginally, Rena was yelling for them to do a c-section. That said all I needed to know about the pain involved in a manipulation.

The doctors then waited about a half hour and told Rena to start pushing. She couldn’t believe she actually had to go through giving birth again after all that. But once things got moving, Twin B finally arrived, weighing in at eight pounds, (his brother was seven pounds). Now if you don’t already think my cousin is the alter ego for Wonder Woman, let me tell you about the after effects of all this natural birthing.

Rena says during the manipulation, they must have moved some internal structures or organs around because whenever she bends over, it feels like something gets caught up in her rib and she has to “quickly stand up straight and try to maneuver it back around.” What?! For real? Yes, that was no joke—she has to maneuver an organ or something around whenever she bends over. These are things you will never find in any What To Expect book.

Thank God for honest cousins.

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  • KB

    Why the need to refer to natural birth as a “fantasy”? Obviously natural birth doesn’t work out for every woman who wants one, but do we have to talk about it like it’s some lofty, unattainable goal?

    • ratiomom

      If you define natural birth as a birth without a single intervention or any pain relief from start to finish, then that’s unattainable and/or undesirable to most of the population. So calling the idea that it is something to aspire to a ‘fantasy’ is pretty much spot on.

    • smiavs

      Most of the population? Not everyone lives in an industrialized country. Most of the population DOES rely on natural birth, and there are developing countries with lower infant and/or maternal mortality rates than the United States.

    • Alexandra

      I think she just meant for TWIN births, because there’s always uncertainty if the second baby will come out as easily as the first and without complications. Singleton birth is another story.

  • Anika

    I had a natural birth not because I had some fantasy but because I am so terrified of the idea of being cut open that I didn’t want to have any interventions that could possibly raise the chance of me needing a c-section.

    • CG

      I hear you on that, I cant even believe that some women CHOOSE C-sections because it seems easier than natural birth…like to each her own and no judgement, but getting cut open seriously terrifies me.

    • KB

      I second this! The pain of recovering from major surgery is much scarier to me than experiencing the pain of natural birth.

    • BigBlue

      I don’t have a natural birth to compare to, but I didn’t think the c-section pain was that bad. I didn’t need anything more than Motrin by the second day. And when it comes to stitches, I will take them in the abdomen over my lady parts any day of the week. The words “third degree tear” are enough to send me screaming into the night.

    • Jen

      Right? I feel like I can handle my stomach being cut v. my vagina being cut up. My belly and I have a love/hate relationship…I love my vagina I’d like us to remain on good terms, I feel like letting her be cut might ruin that relationship.

    • KB

      You do know you don’t have to have an episiotomy, right? And tearing is not at all inevitable when you have a competent medical provider. Vaginas are really resilient. They’re actually made to birth babies!

    • cheery

      Really? Is that why the odds of incontinence later in life scale directly with the number of vaginal births a woman has had? The elephant in the room in the whole vaginal vs cesarean discussion is that cesarean moms are far less likely to spend their retirement years wearing adult diapers.
      Let the natural birth fanatics have their say. They won’t be so cheerful any more when they’ll need to check their Tena Lady before being able to have a laugh.

    • KB

      I’d love to know where your “information” comes from.

    • Véronique Houde

      the incontinence can be controlled by a healthy regime of various kegel exercises before and after the birth. There is also some physiotherapy and osteopathy meant to retrain the muscles around the bladder after a birth the help them get back to what they used to be.

    • KB

      Yes! Incontinence can be caused by severe perineal trauma, but birthing with a competent practitioner and taking your time during the pushing phase make tears to the perineum a lot less likely.

      I find it pretty interesting that the women I know who have had only c-sections are the ones with incontinence issues….meanwhile the women who only had vaginal births do not experience this problem.

    • kitten

      agreed, ive had no tearing or incontinence problems. also do kegels

    • Véronique Houde

      i love that someone downvoted me for giving facts ;) it’s not meant to be offensive dude

    • ratiomom

      They’re not facts. The perineum is much like a rubber sheet with holes (vagina and anus) in it. If a hole is stretched out it will spring back to its original shape to some extent, but not completely. In extreme cases the holes tear completely through and that’s pretty much a guarantee that there’s going to be some permanent damage.
      People who put much stock in having the baby emerge from the approved orifice only don’t like hearing this, but it’s true none the less.

    • kitten

      id have to disagree with your “not completely” statement here…not to get overly graphic, but ive had three vaginally and been told by more than one person things are in pretty tight shape down there….

    • lea

      “The perineum is much like a rubber sheet with holes”, lol. Really? Fine understanding of biology you have there!

    • Jen

      Ha it’s funny how we all think differently because the thought of pushing a baby out of my lady bits seriously terrifies me. I’d rather have C-section for some reason in my head that seems more “controlled”. I realize the absurdity of that, but like you said to each her own. Just interesting how we all think!

    • A-nony-mous

      Seconded. I’ve had other surgeries before and I know how miserable it is. I’d never want to go through that again if even remotely possible to avoid, no matter how great the initial pain.

  • Courtney Lynn

    It’s not a fantasy, though. It happens every day and that was my prime choice of birth when I was pregnant with my son. It didn’t pan out for me, unfortunately but it does for many mothers. I’m very grateful we live in a society where most of us have so many options.

  • jujubeet

    It is definitely not a fantasy. It doesn’t work out for everyone, but that holds true for single births as well. I was lucky and both of my babies were in the correct position. I was able to deliver twins vaginally with no complications. You shouldn’t let other people’s stories scare you out of doing what’s best for you and your babies.

    • kitten

      I think she needs to include a story a story like yours where twins were born vaginally with no complication :)

  • Emmali Lucia

    Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope.

    I don’t know how women have children. I think my ovaries shrivelled and died when you were talking about your cousins doctor being elbow deep.

    Thank you for solidifying my choice on adopting. Not saying giving birth is bad, but I think I almost passed out just from reading that. Mother’s day should be like, once a month.

  • Carrie Murphy

    I think “natural” should be replaced with vaginal in this headline. Vaginal birth is often conflated with “natural” (aka unmedicated birth) and while unmedicated births generally do occur vaginally, I think it’s worth mentioning, especially within the context of this article, that a C-section isn’t “unnatural,” either. Hoping for or planning a vaginal birth with twins isn’t a fantasy. It sounds like these two moms knew the risks, hoped for the vaginal births they wanted, and were open to interventions if necessary. I’m sure they’re glad they both have two healthy children, but the phrase “the natural birth fantasy” really discounts the informed decision making they did before, during and after their children were born.

  • Véronique Houde

    I wish that this article had been more balanced… I know that in the case of the two people you know, their birth stories freaked you out, but at the end of the day, by choosing these stories once again makes natural birthing of twins seem like a stretch, where it might not always be…

    Lots of women see the pain of child birth as a right of passage, a ritual that has meaning. And for these women, the idea of getting cut open terrifies them. I myself felt it important to feel the child birth and so I endured pitocin without an epidural the entire time. It was important to me. The epidural was something I wanted to avoid at all costs if possible because in my head, I wanted to try and do my best for my child. But when my friends are pregnant and ask me what I think of what they want, I really don’t care what they want – all that’s important is for us to appropriate ourselves of our birth stories, do what’s best for the child and ourselves. Which ever way that happens is up to whom the baby pops out of.

    At the end of the day, everyone fears SOMETHING when it comes to giving birth. But calling one scenario or another a fantasy just isn’t quite fair. We can respect each other’s fears without trying to unconsciously justify why our way of seeing and wanting things is better than someone else’s.

    • Jen

      I think *think* the author was saying for HER natural birth is a fantasy. Not for everyone, but her specifically. I could be wrong. Because clearly one of the two women she discussed, with manipulation DID give birth to both babies vaginally.

    • Véronique Houde

      Might have been the intention, but the wording in the title makes it sounds as though giving birth naturally with twins is a fantasy…

  • Catherine

    You’re confusing ‘natural’ with ‘vaginal.’ They weren’t natural births because they were medicated. What a poorly researched and pointless article!

    • lea

      Meh. Who gets to define what is truly natural. Is it “natural” to give birth (yes even drug free) in a hospital or birthing suite? Is it “natural” to give birth in a birthing pool? Is it “natural” to even give birth inside?

      Maybe the only women who can truly claim a “natural” birth are those who popped that kid out naked out on a plains or in a field or a cave somewhere. Then chewed through her own umbilical cord, because you know scissors aren’t natural (who am I kidding, that placenta would stay attached until it dropped off “naturally”). She sure as shit wouldn’t have any stitches to repair any tearing because we know that sutures don’t grow on trees!

      “Natural” is subjective and essentially meaningless.

    • smiavs

      Actually, if you look up the word ‘natural,’ you’ll see that it’s fairly easy to define. ‘Natural’ in the context of childbirth almost always refers to an unmedicated delivery. If you’d prefer to start grasping at straws, perhaps we should further conflate the issue by allowing means of conception to define ‘natural.’ Can someone who uses fertility treatments to conceive possibly have a ‘natural’ childbirth? Yes, because the term “natural childbirth” is generally regarded as having one specific meaning.

      You’re absolutely right that the term ‘natural,’ much like the term ‘normal,’ is subjective. However, the term’s subjectivity has to be viewed in relation to the context. Here, we’re discussing an article on a parenting website. In this context, the term “natural childbirth” typically has one, generally agreed upon definition.

      As the point of a title is to draw the reader in by giving them an idea of the article’s subject matter, it’s perfectly reasonable to complain when the title is inappropriate.

      Calling a personal experience-based opinion piece “poorly researched” and “pointless” was uncalled for, but going off on a tangent about the subjectivity of the word’s meaning isn’t really helping.

  • Gloria Fallon

    I apologize for the “natural birth fantasy” headline—before the articles go live the editors usually rewrite the headlines. I’m terrible at coming up with headlines, so mine are almost always rewritten, (and thankfully so.)

    The phrase itself doesn’t appear anywhere in my article, as personally I never wanted a “natural/vaginal” birth. While I didn’t write the headline, I can say that no offense was meant by it. I believe what was meant was that a natural/vaginal birth is held up as the gold standard in birthing methods today and if women aren’t hoping for them, they’re told that they should hope for them. And the same idea carries over for mothers of twins, despite the fact that there are more risks involved with twin births.

    Once again, my apologies, and thank you all for taking the time to comment! They’re greatly appreciated.

  • Ila Kasper

    Despite my organ failure as a result of my twin pregnancy. My delivery was a beautiful well orchestrated minuet. Mandatory epidural on board and ambien prescribed for the duration of the month long stay, I woke up to tell the nurse who was pumping epinephrine into my IV that my water broke. Fell back to sleep. Woke up some time later to tell her my son was coming. Wheeled to the OR (just in case) a few pushes, baby A, 5 pound 4 ounce baby boy. 16 minutes and a few pushes later, Baby B, 5 pound 6 ounce baby girl. Despite a horrific pregnancy, the birth was absolutely beautiful! (Now if only I could sleep through the night again…. it’s been nearly 5 years! You’d think they’d sleep through the night eventually!)

  • Chaya

    I’ve had three unmedicated natural births, and the twin birth (my first) was the easiest. Small babies meant less pain. I thought I was a superwoman, but after two more births I realize it was just an easy birth. I was glad to be on my feet right after the birth, because my girls were in the NICU.

  • Gina

    I’m a twin and I too was born breach after my sister was delivered normally. However, your poor cousin’s ordeal seems far worse.

    The way my mom eloquently describes how I was born was that I was “yanked out a few seconds” after my sister. We’re less than one minute apart.

    Either way, i’m crossing my finger that I don’t have twins, not after being one and seeing how difficult it can be to raise us!

  • Susiebea

    I would like to comment that I had a natural, unmedicated birth with my full term twins. Definitely the hardest part was finding a doctor who believed it was possible and who didn’t insist that I have an epidural. Without a doubt, the challenges of the laboring process were the interference of the nursing staff and the monitoring- heart monitor screwed into the head of twin a, fetal monitor on me for twin b. Mine were positioned head down twin a, and posterior twin b. After delivering twin a in two or three pushes, my doctor also reached in, pulled twin b into position and broke his water. So obviously some interference, but this was what he needed to do to make him feel most confident that twin b would be a vaginal easy delivery. My challenge was that twin b was larger than twin a. a had been riding around with her head in my cervix for weeks and her head was molded. B was born with a full round head, no cone, no molding, and I tore a little with him. All in all, it was a beautiful, calm, birth, with lots discomfort, but honestly, it wasn’t painful. And the doctor turning baby b was no big deal at all. Hardly felt it. I tell this story not to be smug, but that the fear created around birthing and especially twins seems very distorted. I use the Hypnobirthing process and I would go through labor and birth again in a second. It is an amazing moment and it feels terribly unfortunate that as a culture we’ve turned it into a scary and horrific process. Good luck twin mamas. However you get them out, the real fun begins after they arrive!