As we prepare for the dual arrival of the world’s most anticipated twins, there is one question that no one seems to be asking ― will Beyoncé and Amal choose to deliver via a planned cesarean section or will they deliver their babies vaginally?
Twin delivery via cesarean has become de rigueur, with the c-section rate for twins skyrocketing from 53 percent in 1995 to 75 percent in 2008. If Amal and Beyoncé choose a surgical delivery, they’ll be in good company. Hollywood stars ranging from Angelina Jolie to Jennifer Lopez, from Julia Roberts to Mariah Carey, have all delivered their twins surgically rather than vaginally.
Having twins is a big deal, medically speaking. Twin pregnancies have a higher risk of all sorts of things, from pre-term labor to preeclampsia to placental abruption.
Talk to me about my babies’ elevated risk of perinatal mortality and neonatal seizures, said no soon-to-be mother ever.
Researchers’ propensity to discuss twin pregnancies in terms of risk and mortality is enough to make any pregnant woman’s blood run cold. So a c-section would seem wise, if it meant keeping some of that peril at bay.
And yet the research is increasingly equivocal. In most cases (i.e. for a low risk mama with a head down baby, the majority of twin deliveries) there is no evidence to suggest that a planned surgical birth confers a benefit to mother or infant.
So why are women with multiples increasingly delivering surgically?
Some speculate that the rising rate of cesarean twin delivery is merely a defensive medical practice motivated by medico-legal forces. Others contend that doctors today are no longer as skilled as they used to be in the art of vaginal twin birth, thus inclining them to recommend surgery. Whatever the reason, and there are likely several, women deserve to have the option to consider delivering their twins vaginally.
But where might a woman look to see vaginal twin delivery presented as a normal and safe birth option? Certainly not to Hollywood, where twin delivery is depicted as relentlessly surgical, and where birth often looks more Star Wars than maternity ward. Not surprising, twin deliveries on the silver screen don’t veer far from Padme’s robotic sci-fi birth nightmare in Episode III, where the possible demise of either mother or babies is still played for dramatic tension.
Perhaps Beyoncé and Amal have the potential to remind us that ― even in Hollywood ― there are other possibilities for women expecting twins. After having Blue Ivy in 2012, Beyoncé could not stop talking about her transformative vaginal delivery. In her 2013 interview with Vogue, she waxed poetic about the birth, and how it allowed her to “really understand the power of my body.”
After Blue Ivy’s birth, Beyoncé said that she “felt more powerful than I’ve ever felt in my life.” and concluded that “The purpose of my body became completely different. The way I view it and everything. There’s a sensuality and an audacity that I’m okay with sharing.”
Audacious indeed, given that the c-section has managed such a foothold in Hollywood, even for singleton deliveries. In lauding her vaginal delivery, Beyoncé turned the tables on the celebrity cesarean that has us wondering if our luminaries are now too posh to push? Will she similarly confound our expectations this time around?
Amal Clooney seems equally well-positioned to surprise us. “Knowledge can be empowering,” says Clooney, who is quickly becoming an influencer in her own right. Certainly, a more robust knowledge of twin delivery options has empowering potential. Multiple delivery methods provide women more possibility in childbirth. Women of color already face higher rates of obstetric complication and a higher likelihood of surgical delivery. Could Beyonce and Amal exemplify another option for women having multiple babies?
Because ― when given the option ― many more women delivering twins would opt to do so vaginally if they could. And now we’re learning that they can.
I’d like to think that this is especially important on a woman’s birth day.