Twin pregnancy: Preparing for twins
Your chances of having a twin pregnancy are about one in 80. More twins are being born than ever before. It seems that moms older than 35 are more likely to have twins than their younger sisters. And the number of women who postpone childbearing until that age definitely has gone up in recent decades.
Increased use of fertility drugs also has contributed to the higher incidence of twins and other multiple births. In the United States alone, 120 sets of twins are born every day!
How will you know it’s two?
The only way to know for sure is to identify two separate heartbeats. They can be detected by abdominal ultrasound in your fourth month or by vaginal ultrasound as early as seven or eight weeks. Twins also can be indicated by other tests, such as Doppler heartbeat count, elevated hCG levels, an abnormal AFT test, and measuring larger for gestational age.
Take a double look
Twins are a double blessing, say their mothers. But they do make a pregnancy different from having just one—and a bit harder.
- You’ll gain more weight. Mothers experiencing a twin pregnancy will gain 35 to 45 pounds rather than the 25 to 35 pounds for a single birth. In addition to the weight of a second fetus, additional blood volume, extra amniotic fluid, and a second placenta add up to more weight.
- Your due date could be earlier. Twins often are born prematurely because their combined weight may speed the onset of labor.
- You need optimum nutrition. So that your babies arrive at a good birth weight, every bite you eat should be packed with nutrients. Extra protein and extra calcium without too much additional fat also are important.
Be sure to drink fat-free milk, eat reduced-fat cheeses, and buy only the leanest cuts of meat. Skip the chips and only dream of high-fat ice cream—stick to the lower-fat or fat-free versions. Also, because of the squeeze the babies are putting on your stomach, try eating six little meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones.
- Consider taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Even a balanced diet may not meet your extraordinary nutritional needs. Your doctor can help you select the right one.
Tap into a twins network
Talking with moms of other twins will be interesting and informative. They’re the moms who truly know how you feel and what your day-to-day life is like. You can find networks of moms with twins online.
You also may be able to get together with other moms who have twins in your area. They’ll be an invaluable source of advice. Mothers of twins and other multiples say being able to talk to women in the same situation is a lifesaver.