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Multiple choice: Northern Westchester Hospital drawing more parents with twins

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The hospital, part of Northwell Health, has already delivered more sets of twins through the first few months of 2024 than all of last year.

At Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, doctors and nurses have been delivering more babies than usual.

Image courtesy of Brittany and Joe Raiti

Brittany and Joe Raiti with their twin boys at Northern Westchester Hospital. The hospital has seen a spike in deliveries of twins.

Actually, they’re delivering more multiple births this year. A lot more.

Just days before Mother’s Day, the hospital has delivered 22 sets of twins, which already tops the 18 sets of twins all of last year. Amazingly, the hospital is anticipating 22 more sets of twins by August.

Clinicians at the hospital, which is part of the Northwell Health system, have done a double take as they’ve tallied all the twins.

“When I heard that truly our numbers were up, I was a little shocked,” says Dr. Navid Mootabar, chair of the OB/GYN department at Northern Westchester Hospital.

The spike in multiple births isn’t tied to a similar surge in parents who have undergone fertility treatments, Mootabar says.

“Really, this wave of multiples that we're seeing now is spontaneous multiples, people who are getting pregnant on their own,” Mootabar tells Chief Healthcare Executive®.

Nationwide, the birth rate for twins has actually dipped recently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After rising steadily for many years, the twin birth rate was 31.2 twins per 1,000 births in 2022. From 2020 through 2022, the twin birth rate was the lowest in two decades, according to a CDC report released in April.

Mootabar speculates that some parents are hearing about the positive experiences that others are having delivering their twins at Northern Westchester Hospital, and are choosing the hospital for their own deliveries.

“I've seen a lot of them, in my practice, patients that are coming from communities outside of our local community …. they're seeking us out for our hospital, and also the high-risk services that we provide in the community,” Mootabar says.

Parents carrying twins are more likely to deliver a little early, and there can be a higher risk for complications, Mootabar notes. Northern Westchester Hospital offers a Level 3 NICU unit.

“Twins, in general, are also at risk for preterm labor and preterm delivery,” he says. “So I think a lot of the patients are realizing that they want to feel comfortable and safe at a hospital that can handle their twins born prematurely.”

‘We just trust them’

Brittany and Joe Raiti, from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., recently delivered a set of identical twin boys at Northern Westchester Hospital. Brittany was born at the hospital and says she felt more comfortable delivering her twins there, even though there are other hospitals closer to their home.

“We just trust them,” Brittany says. “I think we've had a really good experience with the doctors and the care and the facility and, I mean, it's just unmatched.”

“We're very fortunate that we kind of led us down that path of that hospital and those doctors,” she adds.

Brittany delivered the twins a little early, but both boys arrived at healthy weights (5 pounds and 10 ounces, and 5 pounds and 15 ounces). One of the boys needed care in the NICU unit briefly, but the family went home together at the same time. They also have another boy, at 21 months, who is now a big brother to twins.

Overall, Brittany says she had no problems during her pregnancy.“It was fun, because I would feel them move at the same time, which was interesting, you know, like different parts of my belly. So I enjoyed it. I had a really great pregnancy,” she says.

While admitting carrying twins was “definitely different,” Brittany says, “I can't say it was anything unmanageable. I still really enjoyed it. I'm one of those strange people that likes being pregnant, I guess.”

Still, Brittany and Joe admit to being stunned when they discovered they were having twins.

“It didn't feel real,” Brittany says. “I mean, we would go to the doctor's appointments and see them both on the ultrasound every single time, but I don't know that it didn't drop until, you know, go time. And we saw both of them at the same time. It was one of those things. Yeah, we knew it was happening, but we didn't truly believe it.”

‘A really special moment’

At Northern Westchester Hospital, clinicians strive to prepare parents expecting twins.

“We do a lot of counseling on patients, and we really inform them about what the significance of carrying a twin pregnancy is, and what the risks are,” Mootabar says.

Clinicians work to ensure parents of twins can deliver vaginally and avoid C-sections, which can lead to more complications, Mootabar says. All of the hospital’s rooms are private, which is especially helpful for parents, especially those with multiples, he says.

Parents of twins and multiples are given a little extra attention to make sure they’re ready to go home. The hospital’s outpatient services reach out to patients after they deliver, to ensure they aren’t having any problems. Mootabar also says the hospital’s breastfeeding support programs are appreciated by parents of multiples, since feeding more than one newborn can be more challenging.

“We have great breastfeeding programs and postpartum support,” he says.

Brittany and Joe Raiti praised the hospital, especially the nurses, for their support of them while they were in the hospital. They also enjoyed the hospital’s food, and Joe appreciated getting meals at the hospital as well. Brittany mentioned that another family member wasn’t offered meals when his wife gave birth at a different hospital.

“It was very personal,” Joe says. “They came in, and it felt like it was one-on-one care, which was really cool. And they had a whole wing to take care of. I thought it was really cool.”

“They hugged us good-bye, and they knew our kids by names,” Brittany says. “And you don't get that at hospitals. You know, it was just a really special moment.”

Now, they are adjusting to life at home with three children under the age of 2. Their older son is getting used to his siblings, and does well when he’s included in activities with the babies, they say. Brittany says she’s looking forward to seeing the connection the twins will share.

“They like to put their heads together,” she says. “They will lean in towards each other. I have one picture where their noses are touching. It’s sweet.” Joe adds that if one is hungry or a bit fussy, they will calm down as they lean together.

Incredibly, Brittany’s brother and his wife are also expecting twins. They are awaiting a set of fraternal twins in September.“For us both to have multiples is just pretty wild,” she says.

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