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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 a close time span of each other. Let’s find out what 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 example, a mother giving birth to a child in July 2018, and another, 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.
Couples planning their families must be aware of every possible risk pregnancy, and parenting pertain. Having children less than a year apart also has its own concerns and risks. Let’s take a look at them.
Risks of Having Children Less Than a Year Apart
Birthing babies less than a year apart has different sets of risks for the mother and the children, too.
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
Having children born so close together can lead to complications. Most of the complications are caused by the body not being allowed to heal properly before becoming pregnant again. Many women who have experienced two births close to one another will have a drastically faster birth with the subsequent pregnancy than the first.
While that may sound like a blessing, there are risks with having a birth that takes place quickly. For starters, a woman’s body is not given time to rest between contractions and the contractions are much stronger. There is no coping strategy with fast labour, and there isn’t any way to get pain medication to lessen the pain. Women who birth quickly are at an increased risk of tearing and lacerations to the vagina and cervix. There is also an increased risk of haemorrhaging and shock following the birth.
3. Low Birth Weight
The low birth weight of the second child is another risk associated with this phenomenon. 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 the woman’s body, and she may also witness her milk drying 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 multiply 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 the mother 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 provides all the necessary nutrients to the baby. If the mother’s diet is not sufficient enough to supply the baby growing inside her with proper nourishment, the baby takes it from the mother, thus depleting her health. In the case of back-to-back pregnancy, the mother doesn’t get the chance to recharge her body with essential minerals, fats, and vitamins. Hence, the health of both the baby and the mother are impacted negatively.
8. Complications With Placenta
Back-to-back pregnancies may lead to serious complications with the placenta, i.e., placenta previa and placental abruption. In the former’s case, placenta lies low in the uterus, subsequently, covering the cervix partly or entirely, which may lead to serious bleeding. And, placental abruption is a condition wherein the 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.
While mothers are likely to experience pregnancy complications when it comes to birthing two children within a year, if they do successfully birth them, raising them could also pose another set of challenges. Read on to know more.
Challenges in Raising Irish Twins
Below is a list of common challenges faced by parents while raising Irish twins.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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. You can imagine how little time or if at all you will have any on your hands.
4. Sleep Deprivation
With little time for yourself, sleep deprivation would certainly be a part of your daily routine for a few years.
5. Depleting Bank Balance
Raising a single child is expensive enough, and we are talking about two full-fledged cute ones here. Therefore, you need to be ready to work on your budget to provide for both.
6. 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.
7. Mood Swings
Sleep deprivation might lead to mood swings as well.
8. 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 ones on raising Irish Twins:
It’s difficult for one person to parent two young children at the same time. And at a young age, they need proper care and attention. Having a helping hand will ensure your cute ones get all the love and care.
2. 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.
3. To Each His Own
Being an Irish twin doesn’t mean that babies have to do everything together. Let them do different activities if they wish to.
4. 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.
5. Try Understanding Them
Having a close age gap doesn’t mean that they share the same personalities as well. Understand them individually, and build a healthy relationship with them.
6. 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.
7. Respect Their Individuality
Recognise their individualities, don’t try to compare them with each other. Be a proud parent of both of your children.
8. Knowing Them
You will find a lot of recommendations from several people. However, no one knows your child better than you do. 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 their childhood is meant to be – full of memories!