Most expectant parents experience a host of emotions when told they are expecting twins. Excitement, fear, happiness, and even sadness are all normal emotions. You may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of carrying two babies at once. You may feel that your house is too small, or be faced with having to purchase a new vehicle that can fit all of your children. Fears of complications, a possible C-section, and premature infants may cloud your mind. Here are five practical tips to help you prepare for your new babies.
There are three basic types of twins: those that each have their own placenta and amniotic sac, share a placenta but have their own sacs, or share both the placenta and the sac. Every twin pregnancy is deemed high risk, but the risks are higher for twins that have to share a sac and/or the placenta. Your doctor will know what type of twins you are having, based on the ultrasound. This is important to know, as it will determine your treatment. Twins who share everything are the highest risk, and you will be monitored closely throughout your pregnancy. Knowing what type of twins you are having gives you the opportunity to learn about the possible complications you could have during your pregnancy and delivery.
Every pregnant woman is told to eat healthy while pregnant. However, it is especially important when having twins that you are eating enough calories and protein. There are excellent books on the market that discuss nutrition in more detail. If you are not a reader, just be sure to follow the advice of your doctor and nurses. Remember that you are nourishing two little bodies inside of you, and they need all the help they can get to be born at a healthy weight. As your body grows, you may not have the appetite to consume as many calories as you did in the early days of your pregnancy. When this happens, try to focus on eating high-calorie foods that are also nutritious, such as peanut butter and ice cream.
Pre-term labor and delivery is one of the most common risks of having twins or more. One of the most common reasons for pre-term labor is dehydration, therefore it is imperative that you drink enough fluids to sustain both you and the babies growing inside of you. Get a water bottle or large glass and sip out of it continually throughout the day to help your body get the fluids it needs. Milk and juice count as fluids too, but coffee and tea do not, as they contain caffeine and are considered a diuretic. If you have trouble drinking large amounts of water, ask your doctor for ideas of other ways to get the hydration you need.
If you have had other babies before your twins, it can be easy to think you know what you are doing and that you don’t have to read and/or educate yourself further. However, a twin pregnancy is not the same as a singleton pregnancy and should not be treated the same. There are increased risks and complications with multiples that should be addressed and taken into consideration. Your doctor and nurses will educate you on some of these aspects, but it is good for you to educate yourself as well. There are plenty of available resources on multiple pregnancies. You can read a book, join an online support group, or locate a local Mothers of Multiples group.
Right now, you should mostly be focused on eating well, drinking water, and not overdoing it physically. However, you should also know the facts about your delivery options, as the majority of twins are born early. The average gestational age for twins is 36 weeks, but if you are having high-risk twins, your doctor will more than likely take them even earlier than that. A vaginal delivery of twins is possible, but most hospitals still require twin deliveries to be performed in the operating room, in case of an emergency C-section. The C-section rate for twin deliveries is high, so prepare yourself mentally for this possibility. Also, the chance of a NICU stay for one or both twins is possible as well. The more you can educate yourself about these aspects of twins, the better it will go for you if you are faced with difficult decisions later on.
Having twins is a wild and wonderful ride and not something that everyone gets to experience. Even if the twins are a total shock, try to relax and focus on the fact that you are being given a double blessing. Stay in close contact with your healthcare providers and do as they say, and your chances of having two healthy babies in the end are high.