When you find out you’re having twins for your first pregnancy you may be like me and launch into full on Freak Out Mode. You have no idea what to expect, and now you have to quickly read all you can about twin pregnancy to see if it’s different from all your peer’s singleton pregnancies. I personally knew nothing about twins when I first got my big surprise at the ultra sound office..talk about panic!
Thankfully the internet is a great source of information, but it can be overwhelming at times sorting through all the resources available. So here are the most important things you need to know when trying to get psyched up for your doubly exciting pregnancy ahead.
You can expect:
Double the pregnancy symptoms
- Pregnancy brings with it many emotions-joy, excitement, and apprehension. Finding out you are having two babies can be very overwhelming and shocking even if you were on fertility drugs and hoping for twins. Fear, worry, and shear panic about how you will manage are all normal feelings to have when you find out it’s double trouble, no matter how many children you hoped to have. These feelings are normal, so don’t worry!
- People joke about women and pregnancy hormones, but twin pregnancy hormones can be no picnic! All those lovely mood swings and crazy intense emotions x2! Husbands and family would do well to be extra understanding and sensitive to what your going through if they know what’s good for them!
- Double the hormones can mean double the morning sickness. No fun for anyone! I had to be on bedrest the first trimester for intense nausea and dizziness, and there were days I seriously felt like I was going to die. Thankfully, my mom quit her job to take care of me so my husband could continue working. It’s a good idea to line up someone to help you out if this is your situation or in case you need to be on bedrest later on.
- Expect to gain more weight, live near a bathroom (or in the bathroom!), and experience double the discomforts of trying to sleep, breath, sit, waddle and get in a car.
- Double the kicking and squirming- which means you may feel like you’re carrying two squirrels in your belly! There’s a lot of elbows, knees, feet and hands in there! It can get pretty crazy.
Double the prenatal care and testing
- As soon as you find out you have two buns in the oven, you will most likely be referred to a specialist OB/GYN who deals with high risk pregnancies and multiples. This was sad for me as first because I had had my heart set on a midwife and non invasive birth. However, I received great care and it was comforting to know that my OB/GYN had delivered so many twins!
- Double the babies means double the ultra sounds and checkups. I had ultra sounds every 4 weeks in the first trimester and then every 2 weeks and then every week in the 3rd trimester. This is to make sure each baby is growing at a normal rate and getting enough nutrition if your twins share a placenta. It’s also to check the amniotic fluid and cervix length of the mom for signs of preterm labour. Expect lots of stress tests near the end of the pregnancy to make sure babies are ok and also blood pressure checks for mom. If your twins are Mo-Mo twins ( Monoamniotic-Monochorionic) then your checkups and monitoring will be much more frequent due to the risk of cord entanglement and compression.
- Double the rest and precautions, especially as your pregnancy progresses. You will most likely have to limit activity, travel and spend lots of time taking it easy. If you were previously working, expect to not be able to work in your third trimester due to inability to get around and demands on your body. Also most doctors will want you to take it easy after 24 weeks anyway due to the high risk of too much activity bringing on premature labour in twin pregnancies.
- More vitamins such as folic acid, calcium, iron, protein and other essential nutrients in addition to the usual prenatal vitamins, to keep babies and mama healthy! Feeding two can take a toll on the mom’s nutrients, so getting enough, and eating healthy is important.
- A normal pregnancy term is around 38 weeks for twins and your OB/GYN may recommend labor induction or a C-section by that time if there are risks of complications or if you are starting to get too uncomfortable. I have met some twins moms that carried to 40 weeks, but this is not the norm! So be prepared to welcome your little ones sooner than later.
Double the potential complications
- There is a greater risk of anaemia, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes in twin moms. Your OB/GYN will keep a close eye on your blood pressure and blood sugar through out to make sure that you are not at risk of any of these complications.
- Some premature contractions, which are normal but should be checked out immediately to rule out premature labour.
*If you have signs of preterm labor, you might be given injections of a steroid medication to speed your babies’ lung development in case they do arrive early. This happened to me around 28 weeks when I was experiencing some very light cramping, and went in to the maternity ward at my local hospital to be monitored. They gave me the injection as a precaution even though it was a false alarm and I continued on to 38 weeks.
- Be prepared for a neonatal stay if your babies are born premature, which is the case for half of all twin pregnancies. This is hard on parents and can be a stressful time, but planning ahead and being mentally prepared can reduce this stress a lot. Make sure you have lots of support in case this is your reality and talk to some other twin parents who have experienced this already to get an idea of what helped them most to get through it. If you don’t know anyone personally, there are many support groups or FB groups for twin parents. Most twins that have a neonatal stay continue on to be healthy babies and neonatal care is usually excellent.
- An emergency C-section is a higher possibility due to chances of something urgent happening with either or one of the babies. Or in my case, my uterus was tiring after induced labour wasn’t producing any results, so even though my twins were doing great, I wasn’t, and had to get an emergency C-section. Even if you are hoping to have a natural birth, be prepared for this possibility.
- If you have M0-Mo twins then cord tangling or compression is a high risk and monitored very closely. Your pregnancy is very high risk and will involve a lot more medical care.
- Delayed-interval delivery is a rare but possible situation where one baby is delivered prematurely and the other continues on in the uterus.
- TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome) in identical twins sometimes can occur where the babies’ circulatory systems are connected by a blood vessel in the placenta causing one twin to receive more nourishment and the other to become undernourished. Your OB will keep an eye out for TTTS if you have identical twins.
And the most important thing to expect-is to expect the unexpected!
If you’re feeling a bit anxious about having twins, don’t worry, that’s normal! It’s why I’ve put together a free devotional series just for you to help you deal with anxiety now and in the coming months. Check it out!