Soon after conception, many mothers-to-be learn they’re expecting more than one baby by seeing two separate heartbeats on the ultrasound screen. Suddenly, there’s another set of needs and concerns for mom, who is often also dealing with pregnancy symptoms like nausea, exhaustion and aching joints. This can be overwhelming, but do not worry. Pregnancy with twins does not have to be as daunting as it may sometimes feel.
A twin pregnancy is different from a normal pregnancy, so it’s important for moms-to-be to know what to expect. To make your journey as easy as possible, take care of yourself by following these steps:
Get plenty of rest and exercise during your pregnancy.
Get lots of rest and sleep now while you can! If you’re having trouble sleeping, be sure your environment and habits support getting a good night’s rest. Anything that decreases your stress levels will contribute to overall better sleep patterns.
Creating a bedtime routine for winding down can help. Blue light from our cell phones, computers and TVs can disrupt our circadian rhythms, so putting down your devices at least an hour before bedtime will be beneficial. Several herbal teas can reduce stress levels, promote relaxation and induce sleep (consult with your doctor to choose the best one for you). Stretching for 5-15 minutes before bed can also relax your body, preparing you for a restful night ahead. Ask your doctor about what stretches are best for your changing body.
As far as exercise goes, pregnant women expecting twins need to go easy on lifting anything too heavy, so consult with your doctor on which exercises are appropriate for you. Exercise doesn’t have to be a challenge, it can be as simple as taking a nice walk around your neighborhood or local park.
Eat a healthy diet that includes enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Pregnant women need to be extra aware of what they eat during a twin pregnancy since it can be hard to satisfy both babies’ nutritional needs at once. Moms with twins need about 600 more calories per day than other expectant mothers. In addition to eating lots of healthy foods, moms should get plenty of protein (fish, lean meat, organ meats like liver) and omega-3 fatty acids (nuts), as well as vitamin A and D supplements if necessary. Prenatals are great, however, getting the bulk of your nutrition from whole food sources is best. Expecting mothers may want to consult their doctor or dietitian before making any major changes in their diets.
Experts recommend eating small meals every three hours instead of big ones since mom needs plenty of energy, but she’ll have trouble digesting too much food. Do your best not to overeat or skip meals altogether. Always keep something light on hand like fruit or crackers so you can snack when needed. Do not hesitate to ask others to help you in making sure you’re well-fed. This can mean asking a friend or loved one to cook a few meals here and there or do the grocery shopping when you’re too tired or busy.
Drink lots of fluids.
This almost goes without saying, but hydration is key to a healthy pregnancy. Water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, healthy breakfast smoothies, coconut water – these are all great choices!
Be aware of potential complications like blood pressure issues or gestational diabetes.
It is no secret that twin pregnancies come with a higher chance of complications, but do not fear! All it takes is a little education and awareness of the changes happening in your body to mitigate the risks.
The main difference with a twin pregnancy is the size of the uterus. Twin pregnancies are larger, so in order for the uterus not to rupture there is an increased risk of vaginal tearing. This means being extra careful with movements that may seem completely normal to you, and yes, your go-to sex positions may need to be reconsidered as well!
Additionally, there can be more chances for preterm labor or miscarriage because of higher levels of estrogen and other hormones during pregnancy with twins, as well as dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea that often accompanies early-term multiple pregnancies. Ask your doctor how to navigate these changes.
A lot of twin pregnancies end with C-section deliveries, however, you still have options that need to be discussed with your doctor. You do not have to resign yourself to a C-section delivery – you still get to make your own decisions.
Know your due date in case anything worth noting happens before labor. Twin pregnancies last about 10 days longer than singleton pregnancies, so do not fret if your little ones arrive later than expected.
If mom has diabetes, high blood pressure, or any kind of heart condition during her pregnancy with twin babies, she should contact her healthcare provider as soon as possible in order to avoid complications while pregnant.
A Few More Helpful Tips
Avoid long distance travel. Because of the higher risk of complications with a twin pregnancy, it is not advised to plan any travel during this time.
Connect with other twin parents. Don’t wait, do this as soon as possible. Expecting mothers need community and people who can understand the changes their bodies are going through. Look for local support groups in your area, and find your online community as well. There are plenty of Facebook groups, Instagram and Pinterest pages supporting moms-to-be.
Do not overwork yourself. It is not recommended for moms expecting twins to work past 34 weeks gestation because the risk of premature labor increases after that point.
Set up your twin’s nursery in plenty of time. Create a separate space in your nursery for each baby, so that they can each have their own crib and changing table. This will make it easier on you and will help keep them from fighting with each other over toys or bedding, among other things. Plus, if one is occupied with a dirty diaper, the other will be available for use.
Consider painting your nursery walls a light blue or yellow color. It’s proven these colors encourage brain development during sleep!
Most Importantly: Trust Your Body
If you experience pain, feel discouraged about exercising or feel worried about anything else related to pregnancy or motherhood, don’t hesitate to speak up. A mother’s intuition is powerful and sometimes tells us things our doctors can’t see. Your motherly instincts could save your life.
Pregnancy with twins is a unique experience. Your body will go through many changes, and new challenges will present themselves, but there’s no need to worry. Keep in mind that pregnancy is an individualized experience for each woman, and it can be difficult to predict what might happen. But by taking the time to learn how to best support yourself and knowing what to expect, you’ll be well on your way toward preparing for one of the most anticipated events in your life – having two bundles of joy instead of one.
For more information about Women’s Health, or If you’re looking for an OBGYN in the Cincinnati area, call us at 513-241-4774, or schedule your appointment.