Being pregnant with multiples differs dramatically from being pregnant with one child. The changes of pregnancy are often exacerbated, with increased morning sickness and other strains on the body.
There are also the increased risk factors, a near certainty of surgical delivery, and a very hands-on prenatal period where mom and babies are watched studiously. Add to all that the intense increase in certain dietary needs like 50+ grams of protein per day per baby and it all adds up to a particularly challenging pregnancy.
What all this really means is that being pregnant with multiples can result in unexpected challenges and worries.
Getting the News
The rate of multiple pregnancies is increasing. This is due to many factors. The age of first time motherhood is being pushed to later in life. This in and of itself increases the likelihood of multiples. Fertility treatments have also led to a rise in multiple births.
No matter how the multiples started getting the news is always a shock. A doctor or parents may expect the presence of more than one baby for many reasons. A history of multiples, maternal age and use of fertility treatments including medications are all indicators, but not the only ones.
A pregnancy that seems to be hitting especially hard, for example the typical symptoms seem exacerbated and more noticeable, indicates the possibility of multiples because of the increase in pregnancy related hormones intensify symptoms.
A uterus that is larger than normal for a particular gestational age can also be an indicator. Of course with second and third pregnancies moms tend to notice a baby belly sooner, which does not mean the uterus is actually larger, sooner. Belly muscles relax sooner in subsequent pregnancies, in an acceptance of the inevitable. If mom is only a few weeks along and already out growing her pants, that would be cause to wonder.
About 50% of twins make it to full term before delivery. On the average, triplets are born at 32 weeks. This will mean a few special circumstances and additional care in the last weeks of pregnancy and when bringing babies home.
Moms expecting multiples need to be careful to drink enough water, which is a daunting task as mom should drink about 8 glasses of water per day with some extra for the babies, but the effort is worth while. Dehydration and its side effects accounts for 80% of all preterm births.
Doing something as simple as drinking plenty of water can help keep baby inside longer. Every day the baby stays in utero increases the odds of a healthy delivery.
Depending on your particular situation and your doctor’s mode of treatment you labor will be put off as long as possible to help baby get ready for life on the outside. Delaying birth may include a recommendation for modified bed rest or total bed rest, the administration of drugs to prevent, stop or otherwise control contractions and early admission to the hospital where care is more readily available.
With your attention to diet and your doctor’s watchful care, being pregnant with multiples can share one aspect with singleton pregnancies: the joyful birth of your healthy, happy babies.