Oh baby! Having one child is a blessing and a challenge, but doubling (or tripling!) your number of new additions can be overwhelming at times. The good news is that you're not alone: The number of multiple births has steadily increased since the early 1980s, with 33.5 sets of twins born for every 1,000 births in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The increase in multiple births also has a lot to do with the increasing age of new mothers. The number of babies born to moms between 40 and 44 increased two percent from 2013 to 2014–and 743 babies were born to moms over 50 in 2014, according to data from the National Vital Statistics Report.
As for why women over 40 are more likely to give birth to multiples? There are a couple of factors: The amazing innovations in assistive reproductive technologies (ART) make pregnancy possible in women who wouldn't otherwise be able to conceive. Also, women over age 35 also produce more of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormone that causes the egg to mature each month in preparation for ovulation. Women that produce extra FSH could release multiple eggs during a cycle, possibly leading to multiple births.
At HCA Midwest Health, the health of your babies is our number one concern, no matter if it's one or several, thanks to our ability to closely monitor them with ultrasounds and tests to set you up for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Here are some tips to help you prepare.
Build Your ‘A’ Team
Multiples are more likely to be born early and at a lower birth weight, so it’s recommended to receive specialized care early and often during your pregnancy – and after birth – to ensure optimal health for both you and your little ones.
First thing's first: You need to find an obstetrician and a hospital you trust. Think of it like building a team specifically tailored to your pregnancy – one that you can rely on to provide high-level care. And, experience matters when it comes to receiving the best care. HCA Midwest Health delivers more babies than any other health system in the area (over 5,000 a year!) and each of our birthing centers offer Neonatal Care Units (NICUs) fully-prepared to care for multiples born prematurely:
- Overland Park Regional Medical Center’s level III NICU offers Johnson County’s most advanced level of NICU and surgical care for “micropreemies,” or babies born as early as 22 weeks.
- Centerpoint Medical Center’s Level III NICU can care for babies born as early as 23 weeks.
- Research Medical Center’s Level III NICU can care for babies born as early as 23 weeks.
Menorah Medical Center’s Level II NICU offers one-on-one care in an intimate, family-centered environment.
Oh, and you'll want to start looking for a pediatrician now, too – yes, this early! Having a pediatrician lined up will help make the transition from the delivery room to home life seamless. Your pediatrician, along with the neonatologists, will be the one to decide if your babies are healthy enough to go home.
Keep Your Team on Speed Dial
A pregnancy with multiples is high-risk and carries with it the potential for complications for you, including high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and limited physical abilities.
There is also the potential for health risks for your babies, including underdevelopment if they're born prematurely. That's why it's vital you stick to the appointment schedule as determined by your doctor.
HCA Midwest Health offers the region's only dedicated antepartum unit for women with high-risk pregnancies who need around-the-clock care. Located at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center, the unit is staffed by a care team of highly specialized doctors and perinatal nurse practitioners who can provide daily consultation and screenings for expectant moms who have chronic health conditions or who had complications during a previous pregnancy or birth.
This dedication to keeping you and your babies as healthy as possible is why doctors from across the 13-county region trust and refer women to HCA Midwest Health.
It Takes a Village to Raise Multiples
Our dedication to care doesn't end after you bring your babies home. If your multiples need follow-up care, you'll be referred to the NICU Follow-Up Clinic to get tailored care with specially-trained doctors, nurses and support staff.
HCA Midwest Health also offers a wide variety of services and classes designed to give you the information – and the confidence – to handle the challenges of raising multiples. These classes include:
- Marvelous Multiples: This childbirth preparation class is made specifically for parents expecting more than one baby and covers the unique aspects of pregnancy, delivery and life with multiples.
- Breastfeeding Successfully: Breastfeeding multiples may seem overwhelming. Recommended for both you and your partner, this class is designed to help you save time and frustration before the babies arrive. In the class, you'll work with a specialized instructor to learn everything you need to know to successfully breastfeed, including information on making sure your babies are getting enough to eat.
Why Moms and Dads Trust HCA Midwest Health
HCA Midwest Health, along with our team of obstetric experts, is dedicated to helping you experience the healthiest pregnancy possible. Your OB will monitor your health—and the health of your babies—to recognize and treat health conditions, if they happen. And if something comes up along the way, Research Medical Center offers a 24/7 In-Hospital Obstetrics Hospitalist Program to address any problems that happen when your OB isn't available, so you're never far from expert care.
Your babies are also in expert hands if emergencies occur after delivery, our Neonatal Transport Team provides dedicated transport, via ambulance, for critically ill infants needing specialized services in transit to one of our NICUs.
Care For Your Multiples, Care For You
At HCA Midwest Health, we specialize in complete care for you and your multiples before birth and after. Our number one goal is to make pregnancy as healthy and complication-free as possible with the latest technology—and plenty of compassion, too—throughout your journey.
Find a high-risk pregnancy specialist, or if you have any health questions along the way, call Nurses On-Call at (913) 541-8330. This free service lets you speak to a registered nurse anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.