Friday, May 9, 2014

Top 5 Tips: Twin Pregnancy

1.  Eat!

In the early stages of my pregnancy, I was ravenous.  Then came some morning sickness/nausea, which put a slight damper on eating.  But with twins, you'll get bigger faster, and your stomach will be pushed higher and higher, possibly causing more heartburn. It was so bad at the end, for me, that I didn't enjoy eating as much, because I knew I would pay for it later, and it would even keep me from sleeping.  I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes towards the end, and it literally took the joy out of eating.  I had to avoid certain things (pretty much everything I liked) and test my blood every few hours.  SO, my advice is to get in those calories as soon as you can, in a healthful way, of course.  In their book "When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy," Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein state that a mother expecting twins should gain around 40-56 pounds.  For triplets, 58 to 75, and for quads 70-80.  I did not gain that much, and I think it was partly due to my frame and my inability to eat much at the end.  According to these authors, an ideal diet for a multiple pregnancy is actually related to a diabetic diet, and suggests 3,500 calories a day for a mother expecting twins.  Wow!  I'm not a medical professional, so of course, you should get recommendations from your own doctor; but I did find this particular book very helpful.

When you don't feel like eating, think of your first ultrasound for motivation!  They need nutrients!

2.  Take it easy.

I heard a lot of people talk about how pregnant women could be just as active as anyone else, and I even personally knew women who continued to train for marathons up to 7 months gestation.  Also, lots of people told me that when the second trimester hit, it would be the Golden Age of pregnancy, I'd have more energy and feel better.  Some mothers of multiples may experience it this way, but not me!  I was exhausted at the beginning, and when the second trimester hit, I felt REALLY BAD.  I was tired and literally in pain.  I should have listened to my body's signals, and rested more.  I felt blessed that I finished my school year teaching kindergarten at around 3 or 4 months, after which I resigned.  But I was still trying to take a long walk for exercise every day (and feeling exhausted after a block), and doing errands, and took a few trips.  I understand that we should be healthy (and have a life), and there's also the nesting drive, pushing us to want to have everything ready for the babies!  And many of us are working and have other little ones already.  But, if and when possible, take it easy!

I'd like to stress something here:  Multiple pregnancies are on the rise, but this doesn't make them less risky.  Multiple pregnancies are still, technically, high-risk pregnancies compared to single pregnancies.  They are different and should be treated differently!  Listen to your body, listen to your doctor.  There is no shame in taking a nap or putting your feet up when you can!

3.5 Months along and not very big yet, but already needing more rest than usual!

3.  Be prepared.

Many women expecting twins and other higher order multiples end up needing to go on bed rest.  I was on bed rest for my last 2 months.  This will limit many things you may have planned to do.  So, it's not crazy to set up the nursery, or assemble the crib in your room, or whatever you're going to do, as soon as possible.  Try to do errands and any physical tasks early on.  Then, if you do end up on bed rest, you can do all the sitting-down activities: setting up online registries, making and printing baby logs, preparing baby announcements (if you want to) in which you just have to add a photo, make and print address labels for announcements, write thank you notes for things you may have already received, find a pediatrician, etc. Also, we had some insurance nightmares.  Try and do whatever you can before the babies arrive!  Long phone calls and dealing with bureaucracy is only harder with multiple crying infants.  Some of it can't be avoided, of course.  I also cooked a few meals and froze them for later.

4.  Line up help.

We were incredibly blessed to have my parents live with us for the first two months after the babies were born!  My mother had recently retired, and my dad's job could be done online.  But before they even arrived, I was on bed rest and my husband really had to step it up and do everything: work full time, do everything around the house, grocery shop, and drive me to my numerous appointments.  My family was eager and willing to help; if yours is not, do your best to convey the medical necessity of you taking it easy!  If no family is around, or you are single, there is no shame in letting housework slide and cutting out any other unnecessary activities.  Try to draw upon your pre-pregnancy network of friends and acquaintances to help you: maybe someone can do laundry one day a week, another friend might be able to pick something up at the store for you.

Because everything just gets harder at this point: almost 8 months along!

Also look into lining up help for AFTER the babies' arrival.  Can any family members come stay with you for a bit?  Can you afford a night nanny? (We couldn't quite justify that cost, and weren't even very aware of the concept at the time.)  Do you need to start arranging childcare for when you return to work?  And FOOD.  If no one offers, ask your best friend or ANYBODY to set up a meal registry for you.  People love to help, they just need to be organized.  Here are some great sites for that:


SignUp Genius

Take Them A Meal

5.  Do your research...but not too much.

As mentioned above, carrying twins brings risk.  Some doctors are well versed in multiple pregnancies, but you'd be surprised.  In most cases you'll be referred to a specialist to see regularly on top of your usual OB/GYN.  If you're not, maybe you should request that this happens.  So read up on your particular type of pregnancy to gain a working knowledge of the facts.  It's okay if you can't remember every tiny detail.  But if a complication arises, at least you won't be surprised, and you won't feel blindsided by medical terms being thrown around at the doctor's office.  At 26 weeks I was admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor, which they managed to stop, and was diagnosed with TTTS (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome).  At one point my husband told me to stop reading about the condition so that I wouldn't worry so much!  So, he did all the reading and worrying from then on.  Be educated, but stop random Internet searching at 1 a.m. while biting your nails and raising your heart rate!  Your babies need you to be as calm as possible for them :)

So, those are my top 5 tips for a twin pregnancy!  Eat, rest, prepare, get help, and read!  What are yours?

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