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If you have read the about me section of my page, you will know that I have two boys that are eleven months and three days apart. I am a twin, and my husband, Christian’s mom, is also. We thought the odds were in our favor to have twins, but God had a different plan. We ended up not having twins, but having Irish twins.
What are Irish Twins?
Irish twins are defined as having two children born within 12 months of each other or within the same year. For example, a mother having a child in January and then October.
However, Irish twins are not actually real twins as they were not born at the same. However, they may or may not be Irish but that depends on the parent heritage.
The History of Irish Twins:
The term “Irish Twins” first appeared in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, a time when there was a significant influx of Irish immigrants into the US.
Most Irish immigrants at that time were strict Catholics, and therefore, did not practice family planning. It was not uncommon for Irish families to be quite large, with children coming into the family almost yearly.
For this reason, it is easy to see that the term Irish twins was considered a derogatory term to Irish immigrants.
How Common are Irish Twins?
It was more common before the 1900s as birth control was not really used as much as it is today. However, today it tends to occur more as there are several misconceptions like you can’t get pregnant when breastfeeding and several more.
My Irish Twins:
Jack was born in January of 2016, and the pregnancy wasn’t exciting till near the end. I passed a blood clot approximately a month before delivery. Not a mucus plug or anything of that sort, but a gush of a blood clot.
Then during labor, I spiked a fever. It resulted in him being rushed to the NICU following an emergency c-section. I didn’t have any morning sickness with him except for perfumes and cologne.
Luke was a different pregnancy. I had morning sickness that started around nine weeks and lasted what felt like forever. I do not still, to this day, like ginger snaps and do not understand why they call it morning sickness when it lasted all day sometimes.
During our 20-week ultrasound, we found out that Luke had an echogenic intracardiac focus (or EIF), which looks like a small bright spot on a developing baby’s heart during an ultrasound. A few weeks before delivery, the echogenic intracardiac focus was no longer visible.
In December of 2016, our second son, Luke, had made it into this world via a scheduled c-section.
More on Echogenic Intracardiac Focus (EIFs):
EIFs themselves have no impact on health or heart function. Often the EIF is gone by the third trimester. If there are no problems or chromosome abnormalities, EIFs are considered regular changes, or variants.
In the case of an isolated EIF, and no other ultrasound findings, some studies show that the risk for a chromosome abnormality is approximately two times a woman’s background risk. Other studies report up to a 1% risk for Down syndrome when an EIF is seen on a second-trimester fetal ultrasound exam.
I was sent to see a high-risk obstetrician who did some genetic tests and a detailed ultrasound that all came back okay. The spot was still there, but she didn’t appear worried about it at all, even though I was a nervous wreck.
My physician advised that sometimes it will just go away on its own, but they will do the testing and keep a close eye on it. The spot remained till the final 2-weeks before our scheduled c-section. We had no complications following, and all testing came back normal.
Risks of Pregnancy’s Back-to-Back
Due to the toll one’s body takes during a pregnancy, it is not recommended to have pregnancies back-to-back. The World Health Organisation recommends a gap of 2 to 5 years before you welcome a new life into this world.
The definition for Irish Twins or sometimes called Catholic Twins is having siblings less than a year apart.
Risks of Having Irish Twins:
- Prematurity is defined as a newborn that is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The younger sibling can be born prematurely even though the older sibling was born at term (after 37 weeks of pregnancy). The reason being, during pregnancy, a woman’s body depletes resources that takes time to replenish.
- Health Risks to Mother as stated above, it takes time for women’s bodies to recover, so during contractions, it is essential to rest.
- The Low Birth Weight of the second child. This complication likely results due to prematurity. Another possibility is the lack of nutrition in the womb. The mother’s body hasn’t replenished the necessary vitamins and nutrients from the previous birth. Where one can overcome through the proper intake of nutrients and prenatal vitamins.
- In my situation, Luke weighed more than my first son, Jack. It can vary by different individuals, so I would not recommend stressing over it.
- Scarcity of breastmilk as breastfeeding during pregnancy might lead to contractions due to the release of oxytocin in one’s body, and she may also witness her milk to dry up.
- High autism risk as a sibling born less than a year after her older sibling is more susceptible to the risk of autism than those who have a much more significant gap. It could be related to prematurity, lack of nutrients, and various other factors.
- Complications with placenta due to back-to-back pregnancies may lead to severe complications with the placenta, i.e., placenta previa and placental abruption. In placenta previa, the placenta lies low in the uterus, possibly covering the cervix, which may lead to bleeding. Placental abruption is a condition wherein, placenta disconnects from the uterine wall. It can result in heavy bleeding due to the tear in all connecting blood vessels. It can also prove life-threatening for the mother.
- Momma may take years to recover from one pregnancy. It goes beyond the typical tiredness and physical aspect of carrying, delivering and nourishing a child. Carrying a baby can take vital nutrients from a mother that can take years to replenish and restore.
Having two children in a small timespan doesn’t allow mothers the necessary time to recover physically or mentally. So many complications can occur or not occur like in any given situation. Research has shown that a mother with kids close in age is at a higher risk of postpartum depression, which can cause long-term damage if left untreated.
Every situation is entirely different, though, and I did not meet any of the risks listed above. I ate a well-balanced diet, but I will probably still have my belly for a bit. It is getting smaller when I look at pictures.