Multiples Are Multiplying
The National Center for Health Statistics tells us that twin births have risen by 74% with the number of higher-order multiples: triplets, quadruplets, or more, having risen fivefold between 1980 and 2000. Clinical manager of Parker, Colorado's Parker Adventist's neonatal intensive care unit Dixie Weber says that the rise in multiple births is due to technological advances including advanced fertility treatments. “Moms are also older in the area, professionals, and are waiting longer to have children,” Weber adds.
Deborah Smith, a physician at Rocky Mountain Fertility Center says that 99% of her patients see her for fertility treatment. Smith claims the center works with 10-12 patients daily. Heidi Murkoff, the author of the book, What to Expect When You're Expecting, referred to by most as the "pregnancy bible" isn't at all surprised. Now in its fourth edition, Murkoff has added more chapters to help parents cope with multiples “The number of parents seeing double in the birthing room is up 50 percent,” says Murkoff. “And the number seeing triple or more is up 400 percent.”
Many of the multiples have arrived by dint of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, fertilization takes place through the manual combining of egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. Once the IVF procedure is pronounced a success, doctors will perform a procedure known as embryo transfer in which embryos are manually placed within the uterus.
It's not only the hospital staff-people who are faced with additional challenges when getting ready to help a couple deliver multiples, it's also the parents. One such consideration is in trying to figure out which items need to be bought in duplicate. Some parents insist that the best advice they received was to buy two boppies. The boppie is a pillow that is shaped like a C. This pillow aids a baby to sit, recline, or drink a bottle with little assistance. In addition to deciding about baby purchases, many parents of multiples say it's very important to get the babies on the very same sleeping and eating schedules.
Another decision to make involves co-bedding, or placing multiple infants in the same bed. As Weber comments, “There are pros and cons to have the babies sleep together in the same bed," and adds that at Parker Adventist the protocol is to allow the babies to co-bed but only with heart rate monitors keeping track of things. “We have open conversations with the parents about this issue, but we do not recommend what to do at home,” adds Weber.