Mothers pregnant with twins may be told that a Cesarean section (C-section) is the most effective method of delivery. Planned C-section surgeries are commonly performed if the obstetrician sees that the “first twin” has his or her head facing down toward the pelvis and is expected to be delivered first or if the twins share one amniotic sac, according to the Baby Center. Doctors have been on the fence as to whether a C-section or a vaginal delivery is a reasonable choice because of the belief that twin childbirth through vaginal delivery may increase the risk of complications during labor. A planned C-section for women who give birth to twins does not provide any additional benefit, compared to vaginal delivery, according to a recent study.
The international study was conducted in 106 hospitals in 25 countries and included eight hospitals in the United States. A total of 2,804 women pregnant with twins were carefully selected and randomly assigned to either have a C-section or a vaginal birth. Women who had "first twins" that were in the breech position after 32 weeks of pregnancy were not accepted for the study, USA Today reports.
Women and babies were found to be equally safe and healthy whether they had a planned C-section or a vaginal delivery. When a vaginal delivery would look too risky, doctors would only then suggest a C-section. Fifty-six percent of the participants delivered both twins vaginally, rougly 40 percent had a C-section, and the remaining four percent had a combination of vaginal and Cesarean delivery, according to the Huffington Post.
The rates of birth injuries, infections, deaths of mothers and babies, and other detrimental health outcomes were found to be the same for both the C-section and vaginal delivery groups. Two percent of babies and seven to eight percent of mothers in each group had serious health complications or suffered a death.
"This study is empowering," Dr. Jon Barrett, lead author of the study and head of the maternal fetal medicine program at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, told the Huffington Post. "Just because your doctor says you should have a cesarean for twins doesn't mean that's necessarily true."
The findings of the study generally apply to doctors who are experienced in twin childbirth via vaginal delivery. The trend of doing planned C-sections means that fewer obstetricians have received the adequate training in performing a breech extraction delivery and that they may be avoiding vaginally delivering twins, said Christopher Glantz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester, to the Huffington Post.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 33 percent of all births are done by C-section. Women who have had a C-section in a previous pregnancy or other surgeries on their uterus are medically advised to have a C-section.