Premature Twins in the NICU

Premature Twins in the NICU

Premature twins, also known as preemies, are born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Unlike a singleton pregnancy, full-term gestation for twins is 38 weeks.


Twins babies born between 34 – 37 gestation are likely to do incredibly well, so long there are no further complications or health issues.


Babies are considered very premature when born between 28 and 31 gestation, severely preterm twins are born 22 – 27 weeks though this is very rear.

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Caring for Premature Twins in the NICU

 If your twins are born before the 32nd week they will most likely have a stay in the NICU. Your twins may be fed through a feeding tube. This will be until they have matured and are capable of sucking swallowing and breathing at the same time. This is when breastfeeding preemies or bottle feeding is possible. 

The length of time you will stay in the NICU with your premature twins will depend on the gestation age of your babies and any complications that are present themselves.


How to care for Premature Twins:

  • Before you enter the NICU wash your hands thoroughly, as preemie twins have not yet built up an immune system it could be vital to their survival.
  • Depending on the medical condition of your twins, you may be able to help with things like diaper changes and feeding. If you are unable to do this it can be hard but even the smallest things can help you bond with your twins.
  • Feeding premature twins your breast milk is ideal as breast milk is produced to the needs of your babies. It also has antibodies and all nutrients required for their development. To begin with you are unlikely to be able to breastfeed directly. Pumping your breast milk will help feed your twins, get your milk in and create a supply for later.
  • If you are able to, holding your babies is what they really need, it makes them feel secure and not alone. Skin-to-skin is best and mom or dad can do this, hold your baby (with only a diaper on) to your bare chest, known as kangaroo care. This can do wonders for your twins.
  • Simulating the uterus with deep touches, which NICU staff will teach you, helps your babies feel secure. Keep in mind that over stimulating preemies can cause heart rates and oxygen levels to shift. Also keep things simple as preemies tire very quickly, for example keep any type of touching and holding simple, when cuddling/touching let it just be that with no talking or singing.


Tips and What to Expect in the NICU:

  • If your premature twins are unable to suck or swallow due to immaturity, your babies will be fed through a tube which is inserted through the nose or mouth.
  • In the NICU there is lots of equipment that make lots of bleeping noises. Machines and equipment that may help you twins include:
    – IVs and lines for fluids and medications that may be needed.
    – Feeding tubes for babies who need extra nutrients and/or are unable to breast or bottle feed.
    – Isolettes or Incubators is an enclosed bed to help manage your little ones temperature.
    – Monitors that track your babies vitals like heart and breathing rates, oxygen levels and temperature.
    – Blood pressure is monitored by cuffs placed around their ankles though some babies will have an Arterial Line which is similar to an IV which monitor blood pressure and oxygen levels.
    – Ventilators
     to help with breathing if needed.
    – Infant warmers for extra warmth.
    – Phototherapy is used for Jaundice which is common especially in premature babies. Jaundice is a condition where the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow.
  • You will most likely be discharged before your babies.
  • Always have a pen and notebook or diary with you, write down any questions you want to ask the nurses or neonatologist, you won’t forget a thing.
  • Accept any help that’s offered to you from family and friends, don’t forget you can ask for help if you are struggling with things like care for your older children or household duties.
  • Coping with preemies can be difficult, joining a support group for parents with premature babies can be of great help. The hospital will most likely be able to assist you with this along with other resources like classes for preemie care.

NICU Staff
The NICU staff are there to help your twin babies; they will try to make your experience as comfortable as possible for your twins and your family. Remember to ask all and any questions you may have to help you understand how the NICU works and the condition of your premature twins.

Have you got any further questions, then check out our FAQs for a Twin Pregnancy

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