Francesca De Franco, 34, lives in Surrey with her husband Matthew, 36, and their children Sofia,four, and twins Maria and Gabriella, 20 months. Francesca had a traumatic first birth but was determined to deliver her twins naturally...
What was Sofia's birth like?
I was induced at 42 weeks, and my progress was extremely slow. When I finally got through to the pushing stage it turned out Sofia was back-to-back and becoming distressed. In the end I needed a ventouse, while Matthew stood in scrubs in case I needed an emergency C-section. It was terrifying, but Sofia was fine which is what mattered.
Second time around, when did you find out you were having twins?
I had an early scan at six weeks because of some bleeding. The sonographer was silent for a while, then asked, 'Do twins run in your family?'. I was beyond relieved that everything was fine. As we absorbed the news we did have a little wobble about how we'd cope, but that quickly passed and we were delighted.
What did you have in mind for the birth?
I was determined to have the twins naturally if it posed no risk to them, and if I'm honest I played down the traumas of my first birth in case I was just told I was having a C-section. As it turned out, the consultant said I could try for a natural birth. I was surprised, as I was expecting that I'd have to really force the issue. He did however explain that a natural birth isn't always possible as in many cases the first baby is born naturally, then the second baby doesn't get into position or starts getting distressed at all the extra space. He also made clear that they would not let me go past 38 weeks - I would be induced at that point.
How did you feel about this?
I was apprehensive about the induction – but relieved I was getting a chance to have a natural birth. A C-section is a big operation, and the recovery time would have been an issue for me. I don't know how I would have managed not driving for six weeks – as it was, I had all three of them in the back of the car just a few days after the birth. Saying that, I would have had a C-section if I thought there was any danger to the babies.
How did you feel as the birth approached?
Deep down I knew the twins wouldn't arrive early, although it's common in multiple pregnancies. 37 weeks is considered full term for twins, so I had a sweep at 37 weeks and one day, and a further two that week. I also went on long walks and had a curry – but nothing happened. I was resigned to an induction, but it was a preferable scenario to the twins being premature and needing special care.
Tell us about your induction.
I went in at 38 weeks and one day. I had a pessary at 7pm, although I'd already started to get mild contractions a few hours before. I asked if I could walk around, and, as everything was fine, I was unhooked from the monitor and Matt and I went for a wander in the hospital's Garden Room. At this point the contractions were quite light, but I could feel them starting to build.
What happened then?
At around 10.30pm, my contractions became much stronger, so we headed back to the room. At 1am my waters boke, which brought the contractions on even more fiercely. I had some gas and air, and was 8cm dilated. That's when I had my epidural. I'd been advised to have one towards the end of the labour so that I was already anaesthetised in case the second baby needed to be delivered by C-section.
When did the babies arrive?
Very quickly after this – it was the complete opposite to the long labour I had first time around. About 12 minutes after my epidural Maria was born, at 2.30am. I held her for a little while, and then she was checked over. I could still feel the contractions but I wasn't in any real pain. They checked that the second baby was in the right position, and she was, so there were no concerns - the midwives seemed very relaxed.
Gabriella arrived 21 minutes later. It all felt very straightforward and was in stark contrast to my previous experience of giving birth. I was disappointed that I'd had to have an epidural for no real reason, but with such a fantastic outcome I didn't dwell on this.
How did it feel to hold the twins for the first time?
It was amazing to hold both of them and I remember the enormous pride I felt being wheeled to recovery and people in the corridor exclaiming, 'twins!'. Maria weighed 5lbs, 8½oz and Gabriella 5lb,12oz.
I left hospital the next day and there was very little fanfare. Just how I wanted it to be – no special care required for the babies and no concerns about me. I felt exhilarated and back to myself the next day.
Looking back, how do you feel about the choice you made?
I am so happy about my choice to have the twins naturally. It was a relatively stress free experience and I felt fully recovered almost immediately. However, I do realise that I was lucky that there were no complications, but I was open-minded and had I thought there was a risk to the babies I'd have opted for a C-section. I was also very fortunate that my consultant was supportive of my choice – I think it's disappointing that certain hospitals automatically 'elect' for a c-section with twins.
Francesca blogs at Theparentsocial.com.
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