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During pregnancy, your body will undergo a multitude of changes to support a new life thriving within you. Due to the toll one’s body takes during this period, it’s not really recommended to have a back-to-back pregnancy. Prestigious health organisations such as the World Health Organisation recommend a gap of 2 to 5 years before you welcome a new life into this world.
But sometimes women give birth to Irish twins who are born within close time span of each other. Let’s find out how common Irish twins are and what are the challenges they may face.
What are Irish Twins?
Irish twin is an obsolete term referring to two children born within a span of 12 months to the same mother. For instance, a mother giving birth to a child in July 2018, and to another child in June 2019. In other words, siblings born less than a year apart are referred to as Irish twins. Irish twins should not be confused with real twins.
Where did The Term ‘Irish Twins’ Originate and Is it Offensive?
The origin of the term Irish Twins dates back to 1800s, which originated as a spiteful term, and was associated with Irish immigration in the United States of America and England. In the 1800s, large Irish Catholic families were known for their children born less than a year apart. However, nowadays, it is used to tag siblings who are born less than a year apart. Having said that, you should still be careful while using this term for other families, as there might be reasons for having Irish twins, which they might not be comfortable to discuss.
Risks of Having Irish Twins for Mother and Baby
Here are some of the risk of having Irish Twins to both the mother and the baby.
A baby born before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered premature. Hence, in the case of the Irish twins, it is highly possible for the younger sibling to be born prematurely regardless of the fact that the older sibling was born healthy. The reason being, during pregnancy a woman’s body takes a huge toll and depletes resources from her body to nourish the new life. Replenishing the depleted resources after pregnancy is a time-consuming process. So a back-to-back pregnancy will most likely have little to offer to the second child, resulting in prematurity.
2. Health Risks to Mother
One’s body needs to heal before it is ready to enter the next pregnancy stage. It is highly important to take a rest between contractions. There is no way to deal with the fast labour or a pain medication to subdue the pain. Not only is fast birth associated with the increased risk of tearing and lacerations to one’s vagina and cervix, but it also puts you at the risk of haemorrhaging and shock after birth.
3. Low Birth Weight
The low birth weight of the second child is one of the risks associated with Irish twins. This complication may occur due to prematurity. Another possibility is the lack of nutrition in the womb because the body hasn’t healed and replenished entirely from the previous birth. Another possible culprit is the folate deficiency, which one can overcome through the proper intake of nutrients and prenatal vitamins. However, it is recommended to take vitamins as a backup plan and not the other way around.
4. Scarcity of Breastmilk
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.
5. High Rate of Infant Mortality
A high rate of infant mortality is seen among children who are born close together, mainly due to the low birth weight. It is a crucial factor which determines the survival rate of an infant.
6. High Autism Risk
Every parent looks forward to the moment of welcoming their unborn child into this world. And these cheerful moments goes manifolds when some parents are blessed with two cute ones.
A sibling born less than a year after her older sibling is 3 times more susceptible to the risk of autism than those who have a much larger year gap. Lack of nutrients from mom during the fast birth and lack of birth weight are the two possible culprits associated with this risk.
7. Loss of Essential Minerals and Vitamins
During pregnancy, a woman’s body ensures to provide all necessary nutrients to the baby, even by taking it from the mother if her diet is not sufficient enough to supply the baby with proper nourishment. However, in a case of back-to-back pregnancy, she doesn’t get the chance to recharge her body with essential minerals, fats, and vitamins. Hence, not only baby’s but the health of mother also comes under negative health impacts.
8. Complications with Placenta
Back-to-back pregnancies may lead to serious complications with the placenta, i.e., placenta previa and placental abruption. In former’s case, placenta lies low in the uterus, subsequently, covering cervix partly or entirely, which may lead to serious bleeding. And placental abruption is a condition wherein, placenta disconnects from the uterine wall, resulting in heavy bleeding due to tear in all connecting blood vessels. It can prove life-threatening for the mother.
Challenges of Raising Irish Twins
Below is a list of common challenges faced by parents while raising Irish twins.
- Lack of Attention
When both children are so close together in their age, it is difficult to provide proper attention to both of them simultaneously.
- Floppy Breasts
Let’s face the fact, it might not hold true for everyone, but for most of the mothers parenting Irish twins, it does. Continuous breastfeeding will make your breasts go floppy.
- No Self-Time
It becomes difficult to find time for oneself while parenting Irish twins. Why? Well, it will be highly unlikely for your cute ones to have the same schedule for their daily activities such as sleeping, their midnight’s wail and so on. So you can imagine that how little time or if at all you will have any on your hands.
- Sleep Deprivation
With little time for yourself, sleep deprivation would certainly be a part of your daily routine for a few years.
- Depleting Bank Balance
Raising a single child is expensive enough, and we are talking about 2 full-fledged cute ones here. So be ready to work on your budgeting skills.
- No Time for Cooking
You will not have enough time and energy to cook a proper meal while parenting close-in-age siblings unless you are a supermom with extra hands.
- Mood Swings
Sleep deprivation might lead to mood swings as well.
- A Home Marathon
Most of the time you will be running around your house catering to their needs. Imagine a moment when you are feeding one of them, and another one wakes up from her slumber with the most shrieky cry.
Useful Parenting Tips to Help Raise Irish Twins
Raising Irish twins is sure a challenge, and as a mother, you can use all tips possible. Below are some useful tips on raising Irish twins:
- Seek Help
It’s difficult for one person to parent two young children at the same time. And at the young age, they need proper care and attention. Having a helping hand will ensure your cute ones get all the love and care.
- Set Routine
A fixed routine is crucial to keep things under control especially, for activities such as sleeping and eating. Moreover, it will help you take out time for yourself.
- To Each His Own
Being an Irish twins doesn’t mean that they have to do everything together. Let them do their different activities if they wish to.
- Never Compare
Parents tend to compare their children, but that’s not a positive behaviour. Each child develops differently at her own pace, have patience, and trust in them.
- Try Understanding Them
Having close age gap doesn’t mean that they share the same personalities as well. Understand them individually, build a healthy relationship with them.
- Encourage Healthy Relationship
Most often, Irish twins share a strong bonding. Don’t feel neglected by this, instead encourage them to have a strong bond.
- Respect Their Individuality
Recognise their individualities, don’t try to compare them with each other. Be a proud parent of both of your children.
- Knowing Them
You will find a lot of recommendations from several people. However, no one knows your child better than you do. So try to understand what their needs are, and support them accordingly.
Proper child planning is important to avoid complications arising from fast pregnancy. Raising Irish twins might be chaotic than usual, but that’s how a childhood meant to be, full of memories.