Twin pregnancies are generally shorter than singletons. However, there is an optimal gestation for twin pregnancies which is a baseline for doctor’s judgment on whether the twins have to be delivered earlier or not. All these are usually assessed during prenatal checkups in your twin ultrasound. Moreover, most twin pregnancies are high-risk But, when is it safe to deliver the babies? Let’s find out in this article.
When is it safe to deliver twins?
Oftentimes, twin pregnancies are classified as high-risk pregnancies. Moreover, not all twin pregnancies reach full-term. Doctors often recommend delivering twins at 38 weeks of gestation if there are no complications in the pregnancy. Also, this duration of gestation for twins may avoid some neonatal complications. However, twin pregnancies are not all the same. Certain situations require the earlier delivery of some twins for their safety.
Twin pregnancy complications may lead to earlier delivery. However, most doctors often refrain from delivering twins prematurely unless the situation is more risky for the twins and mother if the pregnancy is to last longer. Doctors may deliver twins as early as 29 weeks when preterm labor or other complications arise during the pregnancy. With modern medical equipment, the survival rate of twins born at 29 weeks and onwards is already quite high.
The full-term pregnancy of twins is usually at 36-38 weeks. However, twins born as early as 29 weeks are already very likely to survive with proper care and medical equipment. Safe delivery relies on proper checkups and prenatal care from your doctor or midwife prior to delivery. Any underlying health conditions of the mother or the twins in the womb must closely be monitored by a doctor for safety. Moreover, preterm labor and Braxton Hicks contractions must be identified differently from preterm labor.
Even though twins are born earlier, doctors can deliver them safely when they are at least 29 weeks old upon delivery. However, there are isolated cases wherein twins born before 29 weeks old survived. When premature twins are in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) the incubator supports their continuous development. Then, the twins are discharged once they are able to live on their own without the help of modern equipment.
What are the common causes of preterm delivery in twins and pregnancy complications?
Preterm delivery in twins is only done by doctors when necessary. Besides, if the life of the mother and the twins are at risk, it is the only time that doctors would deliver the twins earlier than expected. Here are the common causes of preterm delivery in twins:
- Maternal age of 35 or older
- Twin or other multiple pregnancies
- History of other premature births
- Conditions in the reproductive system
- Pregnancy complications
- Short cervix
- Pregnancy weight gain
- Less than 6 months of duration of birth spacing
- Diabetes, kidney problem or high blood pressure of the mother
- History of preeclampsia
- Severe illness or infection during pregnancy
- Smoking, drinking alcohol and dangerous drugs
- High blood pressure
Can early delivery prevent vanishing twin syndrome?
Vanishing twin syndrome usually happens in the first or second trimester of the pregnancy. In addition, the early delivery of twins is often done to save the life of the mother and her twins. However, if one twin is in peril while in the womb, doctors may also recommend preterm delivery in an attempt to save the life of the other twin.
If twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) has been detected in the pregnancy, it might be life-threatening for one of the twins. Vanishing twin syndrome rarely happens in the third trimester. However, if life-threatening complications are detected in one of the twins that may lead to vanishing twin syndrome, early delivery might already be an option if the twins are already capable to survive in the outside world with the help of modern-day newborn incubators.
What are the risks in preterm twin deliveries?
Twins or singletons, preterm deliveries come with certain risks. Besides, the respiratory systems of babies are not yet fully developed if they are born prematurely. However, preterm deliveries are sometimes necessary to save the life of the mother and twins. In addition, when preterm deliveries are done by the doctors, the benefits usually outweigh the risks for the mother and her twins. The risks in preterm deliveries are often with the development of the twins and their adjustment in the outside world. Birth weight of premature twins is usually at 5 pounds or less. Also, premature twins have higher risks in developing the following health problems:
- Hearing and vision problems
- Underdeveloped organs
- Cerebral palsy
- Cognitive disabilities
- Speech delay
Why are twins delivered early?
Twin pregnancies are shorter than singleton pregnancies, so if this is the baseline of comparison, most twins are delivered early. Moreover, the full-term twins are only at 38 weeks, but most twins are born earlier. Generally, certain risks are attributed to twin pregnancies only that may cause necessary premature delivery in twins.
Is it risky for twins to be overdue?
Twin pregnancies are generally shorter than singletons. However, in some cases, twin pregnancies may also reach 40-42 weeks which is already considered overdue in twin pregnancies. There is no specific cause for twins arriving late. But, in some cases, being overdue is risky for twins and it increases the chances of being stillborn. Being overdue distresses the fetuses in your womb. Moreover, doctors may decide to induce labor or do a C-section to safely deliver your babies if they are already overdue and you are not yet showing signs of labor.
When is it safe to deliver twins? With modern medical equipment, twins can safely be delivered by medical professionals at 29 weeks old or later. Preterm and overdue twin deliveries are attributed to additional risk factors for the twins. Regular prenatal care ensures your health and the health of your twins throughout the pregnancy.