Irish Twins - What does it Mean, Risks, and Postpartum Recovery
Twins occur when a woman becomes pregnant with two children from one conception. Twins are carried in the womb together and delivered at the same time. Irish twins occur when a woman has a baby within 12 months of having another child. As you can tell twins and Irish twins are very different, but that still doesn’t explain everything. Why are they called “Irish twins” if they aren’t twins? Where did the term come from? Are women even able to have children so soon after birth? What does it look like for your health and well-being to have two children so close together? In this article, we will explore the answer to those questions and more.
What does the phrase Irish Twins Mean?
“Irish” twins is a phrase that refers to when two children are born within 12 months of one another to the same mother. These siblings are born so close together that they are practically twins.
Is it Offensive?
Many people use the phrase as a way to describe the small age gap between siblings. Some people who are “Irish twins” may even use the phrase to describe themselves. However, the phrase originated as derogatory slang towards Irish Catholic people, so it is in its essence offensive.
History of the term “Irish Twins”
During the early 19th century when many Europeans were emigrating to the United States, this term became a popular derogatory slang against Irish Catholic people. The Catholic faith is the dominant faith of Ireland and therefore many people who immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland were practicing Catholics. In the Catholic faith, birth control is thought to be sinful and against the will of God. Therefore, many practicing Catholics are taught to avoid birth control. This avoidance causes many women to become pregnant soon after they give birth.
Because of this, many Irish Catholic families are quite large with many children. With a large family and few work opportunities in the U.S., many of the Irish immigrants were poor. Therefore, “Irish twins” was a slur that was used to imply that a family had more children than they could support. Today, there is not a negative stigma against Irish people in the United States so many people do not think of the term as offensive. However, based on its history, it is probably wise not to use the term. Instead, you can just refer to them as siblings who are close-in-age or as closely spaced siblings.
Risks of Having "Irish Twins"
Recent research has discovered that becoming pregnant within six months of giving birth does lead to increased risks on the fetus. These risks include
- Higher chance of a premature birth
- Placental abruption
- Low birth weight
- Congenital disorders
- Maternal/Gestational anemia
The precise reason for these risks is still unknown. However, researchers believe it has to do with the mother’s inability to heal properly between pregnancies. Pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding all deplete a woman’s nutrients--particularly folate. These nutrients are essential when a baby is growing, so if there are not enough of these nutrients it can lead to problems. Waiting an extended period of time between pregnancies, preferably 18-24 months after giving birth, allows your body to heal fully.
Pregnancy with Irish Twins
Depending on how quickly your body begins its ovulation cycle after giving birth it is possible for a woman to have two children 9.5-10 months apart. While this is possible, it is not likely. For the majority of women, their first ovulation cycle does not occur until about one month after they have given birth. In addition, the majority of healthcare workers will suggest you wait 6 weeks after birth before having intercourse. So while pregnancy with close-in-age siblings is still viable, it is becoming less popular.
Spacing between your pregnancies is ultimately a choice you and your family need to make on your own. There are many reasons that a woman may choose to space her children close together. And you should not feel any shame if you want to do the same.
Postpartum Recovery with Irish Twins
Due to the limited amount of healing time between pregnancies, many women have a very different labor experience the second time around. With a closely spaced pregnancy, there is an increased risk that your labor will be premature and fast. While a fast labor sounds great, there are some complications that you can experience from it as well. If the contractions are coming too quickly, it can be difficult to manage the pain. Similarly, fast contractions can lead you to want to push which can cause lacerations and tears to your vagina and cervix.
In addition, pregnancy hormones and breastfeeding hormones can be at odds with one another and cause problems. Some of these include Braxton-Hicks contractions and your milk drying up. Not only will your physical recovery take a toll, but your mental health may take a toll as well. Postpartum depression is common among mothers who have had closely spaced siblings.
Raising Two Children Close in Age
Postpartum recovery is a struggle in general and raising a toddler at the same time can be difficult. You will have to deal with twice the number of diapers, twice the amount of supplies, navigate two separate schedules, and deal with different developmental struggles. That being said, raising "Irish twins" is a great journey and a wonderful experience. They will have a friend for life and as they grow older the journey will continue to change. Raising two children close in age will come with its struggles but it is all worth it.
Postpartum Recovery of Irish Twins
As you know, having a baby requires special care for the recovery of the mother's body. Having Irish twins is no exception. On the contrary, having two babies within a short time of each other causes the body to go through the typical changes of pregnancy without having fully recovered from the birth of the previous pregnancy.
Here are some tips for recovery after giving birth to 2 babies born less than 12 months apart.
Women, and the nature of their bodies, are designed to ensure the survival of children. When a mother has another baby a short time after having her first, she has not had a sufficient period of time to recover the essential vitamins, minerals and fats lost during pregnancy. This means that in pregnancy while the first baby is receiving optimal nutrients for development during breastfeeding, the fetus may not be receiving adequate nutrition. Likewise, when the second baby is born, nutrients may not be sufficient to nourish both babies.
To avoid this, it is important for the mother to eat a nutrient-rich diet in order to feed both babies well. She may need to eat a special diet and eat more but always controlling the portions and especially the nutrients contained in each food.
Proper nutrition will help the mother regain all the nutrients she has lost during the pregnancies and births and help her stay strong and healthy to care for her Irish twins.
It can take several years for a woman to recover from a pregnancy. The physical exhaustion that comes with having a baby, from birth to care such as feeding, carrying and diapering is unavoidable. Having Irish twins means even more fatigue as these activities must be done with two babies.
Physically, the mother's body is undergoing wear and tear. However, it should be noted that emotional exhaustion can also be a complication if not properly treated. Postpartum depression is a condition that requires professional help. One really important recommendation is for the mother of Irish twins to see a mental health professional to help her through the process of caring for one baby while she is expecting the next. Or, once she has had both children.
In order for a mother to have a proper recovery after giving birth twice in a short period of time, she needs to get a good night's sleep. Although it sounds a bit complicated with two babies in your care, it can help if you create strict routines for performing day-to-day activities. Having children so close together requires a military-style schedule. The parents' activities should have scheduling rules that will benefit the babies' development.
By establishing specific schedules, parents can get both children to sleep at the same time and use that time for other household activities. If this is achieved, the whole family will benefit and everything will be a little easier.
Children who have a greater age difference between them, have different schedules and habits. In theory it is more complicated to align the schedules of both children. On the other hand, having Irish twins can be easier when it comes to instilling schedules in them. With this, the mother will be able to have time to rest and dedicate it to her personal care.
Having two births within such a short time of each other is comparable to a multiple birth whether it is vaginal or cesarean. It will take much longer for a mother's body to return to its original size and shape. We are talking about your body not having recovered from one pregnancy when you have already entered another.
You must be patient with yourself and your body and follow all medical indications. You have probably gained more weight after going through two continuous pregnancies. Your back, knees and hips are not in the best condition so you must take it one step at a time. When the doctor says so, you may be able to start some exercises in order to gradually regain your body's mobility. Walking is a good physical activity to start with. The advantage of this exercise is that you can do it with your family and your beautiful Irish twins.
It is very likely that the belly and breasts of a woman who has gone through two pregnancies and two continuous breast feedings are sagging. This can affect the mother's self-esteem and she may become unmotivated or depressed. Initially, you may not be able to do an exercise routine that will allow you to tone your body. However, we can recommend that you look for recommended postpartum garments. A postpartum girdle can help your body return to its original shape over time. There are also bras that are designed for new moms so they can regain their firmness. On the other hand, the use of firming creams is also a good option to help your skin recover from having Irish twins.
Irish twins refer to siblings who are under 12 months apart in age. The phrase is an outdated slang term that can be offensive to some people, so it is best to refer to them as something else. Having closely spaced children can lead to a lot of struggles and has increased pregnancy risks, but it is worth it in the end. In order to overcome the physical challenges of having two children close in age, consider using a postpartum girdle. These medical garments provide you some much-needed relief from pain by compressing the abdomen. Make parenting your two bundles of joy much easier by investing in a Bellefit postpartum girdle today.