How Early Can Twins Be Born? Premature Twins Survival Rate

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

It is widely acknowledged that twins often experience premature births. There are numerous factors that contribute to the majority of twin pregnancies not being able to carry to full term. The timing of a twin birth greatly impacts their overall health and likelihood of survival.

When can twins be delivered safely? If absolutely necessary, twins can be delivered as early as 24 weeks. However, the complications associated with such an early birth are many, so a 24-week delivery is something most doctors hope to avoid. A delivery this early can mean months in the hospital for both babies.

Though twins are considered full term at 37 weeks, over half are born before that point. This affects their survival and their short and long-term health.

Twin Delivery Time: Averages & Survival Rates

Twins are often born early, so it’s important to know what to expect.

Average Week Twins Are Born

The average week for twin births is 36. That means many twins are born before they fully hit the gestation point of 37-38 weeks, which is considered full term for twins. 

Preterm Twins

When twins are born before 37 weeks, they are considered preterm. How early they are born has a major impact on their health and wellbeing.

Twins born extremely early have lower survival rates. Even if twins are born just two or three weeks before the 37-week mark, they can be at risk for health problems.

How Early Can You Deliver Twins Safely?

You can technically deliver twins who are capable of surviving at 24 weeks. However, this situation is not advisable unless there are no other options. It puts both twins at risk for severe health problems and even death.

Can Twins Be Born at 40 Weeks?

Experts do not recommend carrying twins for a full 40 weeks. Twins who are sharing a placenta are considered full term at 37 weeks and are delivered then.

Twins not sharing a placenta can go to 38 weeks, but anything after that can put them at an increased risk of stillbirth.

What Month Are Most Twins Born?

The CDC found that the most popular birth month is August. This includes twin births.

Safest Week To Deliver Twins

The safest week to deliver twins depends on the specific circumstances of your pregnancy. Generally, twins sharing a placenta are safest when delivered at 37 weeks. Twins not sharing a placenta may be able to go to 38 weeks.

Twins Survival Rate by Week

The week your twins are born will impact their chances of surviving as well as how long they will have to stay in the hospital.

  • Twins Survival Rate at 24 Weeks: 60 percent
  • Twins Survival Rate at 25 Weeks: Around 80 percent
  • Twins Born at 28 Weeks: 94 percent
  • Twins Born at 30 Weeks: As high as 95 percent
  • Twins Born at 32 Weeks: As high as 95 percent
  • Twins Born at 34 Weeks: As high as 95 percent
  • Twins Born at 35 Weeks: Higher than 95 percent
  • Twins Born at 36 Weeks: Higher than 95 percent
  • Twins Born at 37 Weeks: Higher than 95 percent

Twins Born at 38 Weeks and Beyond: This is still being studied, but most twins have better outcomes if delivered at 37 weeks. Waiting can increase the risk of stillbirth.

Close-up view of premature twins in hospital bassinet.

Preterm Labor With Twins

Since preterm labor is common with twin pregnancies, it’s important to know all you can about it.

What Can Cause You To Go Into Labor Early?

A pregnancy with multiples is enough to cause preterm labor. If you’ve previously had a preterm birth, you are also at higher risk. Certain problems with the cervix or uterus can also make early labor more likely.

How To Prevent Preterm Labor

While preterm labor can’t always be stopped, there are things you can try to reduce your risks.

  • Make sure to get plenty of rest and to go on bed rest if your doctor tells you it’s necessary.
  • Eat healthy foods and stay hydrated.
  • You should not smoke or use other substances while pregnant.
  • Go to all your prenatal appointments so your babies can be monitored.

Can Preterm Labor Be Stopped?

In about 30 percent of cases, preterm labor will stop on its own. If it doesn’t, your doctor will get involved and monitor the situation to decide how to move forward.

Doctors will likely limit your activities and may give you medication that will help your twins’ lungs develop in case of an early delivery.

How To Stop Preterm Labor at Home

You can drink water and try to lie on your side to slow contractions at home. However, you should also contact your doctor.

How Long Can Preterm Labor Be Delayed?

Medications given to delay preterm labor often only hold it off for a few days. However, in some cases, it can be longer.

Twin Pregnancy Labor Signs

  • Contractions 10 minutes apart or less
  • Consistent, dull ache in the back
  • Cramping
  • Leaking fluid

Labor With Twins: When To Go to the Hospital

Since premature birth is so common with twins, it’s important to go to the hospital if you think you may be experiencing signs of labor. If contractions or tightening in the stomach occur and won’t stop, go to the hospital.

Related Questions: 

Can Stress Cause Preterm Labor?

Certain types of stress are associated with preterm labor, though whether that is the actual cause has not been proven.

Acute stress that happens and then passes won’t affect your chances of going into preterm labor. However, chronic stress that is ongoing throughout the pregnancy has been associated with preterm labor.

You should do everything you can to avoid chronic stress when pregnant, though a twin pregnancy alone can be a major source of chronic stress.

When Is the Placenta Delivered With Twins?

If twins are sharing a placenta, it will ideally come out after both babies have arrived. If twins each have their own, the situation can vary depending on the circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Twins usually are delivered early, but that doesn’t mean they can’t thrive. Work with your doctor and be sure to monitor your stress levels to help you and your babies stay safe.