Pregnancy information

Giving Birth to Twins

It's important to understand your birth options if you are expecting more than one baby.

Twins and triplets are more likely to be born early and need special care after birth than single babies.

Birth choices with twins

It's a good idea to discuss your birth options with your midwife or consultant early in your pregnancy.

You'll probably be advised to give birth in a hospital as there's a higher chance of complications with twins.

There are usually more health professionals at a multiple birth, for example there may be a midwife, an obstetrician and two paediatricians – one for each baby. For more information on who's who, read about the antenatal team.

The process of labour is more or less the same, but the babies will be closely monitored. To do this, an electronic monitor will usually be strapped to your bump. A scalp clip may be fitted to the first baby once your waters have broken. This won't harm them or hurt them in any way.

You will be given a drip in case it is needed later - for example, to restart contractions after the first baby is born.

Triplets or more babies are almost always delivered by a planned caesaraen section.

Can you have a natural birth with twins

Lots of women think they have to have a caesarean section with twins, but in fact, many twin births are vaginal.

If you're planning a vaginal delivery, it's usually recommended that you have an epidural for pain relief. This is because, if there are problems, it's easier for your antenatal team to deliver your babies quickly if you've already had an epidural.

You can find out more about the signs and symptoms of labour.

If the first twin is in a head down position (cephalic), it's usual to consider having a vaginal birth.

However, there may be other medical reasons why this would not be possible. If you have had a previous caesarean section, you're usually not recommended to have a vaginal birth with twins.

If you have a vaginal birth, you may need an assisted birth, when a suction cup (ventouse) or forceps are used to help deliver the baby.

Once the first baby has been born, the midwife or doctor will check the position of the second by feeling your tummy and doing a vaginal examination. They may also use an ultrasound scan.

If the second baby is in a good position. it should be born soon after the first as the cervix is already fully dilated. If contractions stop after the first birth, you may be given via a drip to restart them.

Caesarean section

In the UK, more than half of twins and almost all triplets are delivered by caesarean section is a common method used during twin and triplet births.

You may choose to have a planned caesarean, or your doctor may recommend a caesarean, if:

  • the first baby is lying feet, knees or buttocks first (breech)
  • 1 twin is lying sideways (transverse)
  • you have a low-lying placenta
  • your twins share a placenta
  • you have had a difficult delivery with a single baby before

As with any pregnancy, if you plan a vaginal birth, you may still end up needing an emergency caesarean.

In a small number of cases, some women deliver 1 twin vaginally and then need a caesarean section to deliver the second twin.

Last Updated: 27/06/2023 13:31:50
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website