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“Vanished Twin”: An Exploration of Women's Experiences


  • Lesley Briscoe RM, MSc,

    1. Lesley Briscoe is research co-ordinator for the midwifery research department in Liverpool Women's Hospital, Liverpool, and
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  • Clare Street BSc, MSc

    1. Clare Street is senior lecturer in the Department of Health Care Studies at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, England.
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  • Financial support for this study was provided by The Liverpool Women's Hospital Trust, Liverpool, the Florence Nightingale Band Trust Fellowship, London, and the Bounty Professional Development Fund, Norfolk, England.

Address correspondence to Lesley Briscoe, Midwifery Research Co-ordinator, Liverpool Women's Hospital, Crown Street, Liverpool L8 7SS, United Kingdom.


ABSTRACT: Background: Evidence suggests that in identified twin pregnancies 30 percent become a “vanished twin,” that is, when two gestation sacs are identified at early ultrasound but subsequently only one fetus is seen. This study explored the thoughts, feelings, and hospital experiences of women who have a vanished twin.

Method: The study was conducted in a large teaching hospital in northwest England from April to June 2001. The experiences of 9 women were explored through 4 focus groups and an individual interview. Nulliparous and multiparous groups were separated for homogeneity. The study's philosophical approach was based on constructivism, and the thematic analysis used a feminist interpretation to search for patterns of meanings from the women's words.

Results: The women wanted to be cared for in a humanistic manner, and they felt that acknowledgement of the vanished twin by the professional was important. The findings highlighted the need for better information giving to improve communication between caregivers and women. Multiparas were more prepared than nulliparas to ask for the attention that they wanted.

Conclusions: Despite the small number of study participants, results suggest that maternity caregivers should be sensitive to the feelings and individual nature of a woman who has experienced a vanished twin. Humanistic approaches to communication and improved methods of information based on the development of an information sheet are advised. (BIRTH 30:1 March 2003)