When I found out I was pregnant with twins I had tons of questions swimming around in my head. I was completely lost, even though I was already a mother of two wonderful girls (who were single births). I had never dreamed I could have twins, because they don't run in either side of our families. So imagine how shocked I was! A twin pregnancy has much more challenges than a single pregnancy does. Below I have listed the top ten questions I had during pregnancy and what I found for answers.
1. Why am I so big?
When you think of twins, you always think of double, and possibly the thought of yourself being extremely huge while pregnant. Did you know that everything will double in size at twice the rate? For example, your muscles will stretch, just like a normal pregnancy, yet at twice the speed. You can go through several weeks of feeling like you have pulled muscles on your sides, abdomen, and pelvic area. To help relieve some of this pain you can get a maternity belt at almost any maternity store. They are designed to provide additional support for your stomach and back. You can also take herbal remedies to relieve some of the pain, but be sure to check with your physician.
2. When do we eat and what is good?
In a normal twin pregnancy you will need to eat 4000 calories a day. That rounds out to about six healthy meals a day. You have to have a very high protein diet, such as eating between 90-120 grams of protein a day. If you don't like to eat meat that much, there are other protein options such as protein bars and shakes. Another item you want to consume more of would be calcium either in the vitamin form or food form (milk, yogurt, etc). You want at least four servings a day of these. Fruits and vegetables are also a main course; you want at least six servings a day of them to get the full nutrients. Lastly make sure you are getting the right amount of unsaturated fats, such as peanut butter or mayonnaise for your body to stay healthy and strong. Keep in mind that the recommended weight gain is 35-45 pounds.
3. Nausea, how do I get rid of it?
I found that most of my nausea was brought on by not drinking enough water (close to two gallons) or not eating enough protein. If you are following all the instructions for eating and drinking healthy from your health care provider and still find yourself nauseated, remember that it is from your rising hormone estrogen levels from the pregnancy. Some suggestions on how to get rid of it are; ginger in capsules, the smell of fresh cut lemons, or eating dry crackers in the morning.
4. Will I always be this tired?
Yes, even before they are born, exhaustion can set in. With having two in your tummy you can begin to feel the pains of not sleeping, and not having energy to do as much as you did in the past. For example, housework can wear you down easily. Make sure you have help in that department. For those of you that work outside the home, make sure your employer understands what you are going through, and fully aware of the frequent breaks you will need. Also if you are feeling overly tired make sure to talk to your health care provider. You may be low on iron or possibly anemic. They will give you iron supplements, which will boost the amount of blood flowing to you and your baby and in turn make you feel like you have a lot more energy.
5. What if I get a cold?
Be very careful, it is not recommended to take any medications while pregnant. Nothing is guaranteed to be safe. I used remedies such as steam inhalation, saline nasal spray, and cough drops. You can also try gargling with salt water for a sore throat. Another suggestion that came in handy for me was calling the nurse line from my health insurance company, they seemed to hand out good advice on anything I could take that was OTC, and what to completely avoid.
6. What will the ultrasound show?
The ultra sound serves many different purposes. One would be to see the positions of the babies. Often times you can catch them waving, sucking their thumbs, kicking each other, and moving around. Other things such as the amount of amniotic fluid, heartbeats, and fetal growth can be measured with an ultrasound. Sometimes a Level II ultrasound is ordered to test any abnormalities in twins. It is a very detailed ultrasound that can take a few hours examining all areas of the babies, placentas, and uterus.
7. Can I expect to be put on bed rest?
Bed rest is most commonly prescribed for women who have complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, and preterm labor. If you have a generally healthy pregnancy, then don't expect to be put on any type of bed rest.
8. What are the most common complications during a twin pregnancy?
The most common complications are high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placenta previa, and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. All of these are signs that your doctor or healthcare professional will look for and educate you about if they see they are happening. There is also a wealth of resources for all these conditions on the Internet, and in books.
9. What will happen if I go into preterm labor?
First of all preterm labor for twins is any labor that starts before thirty-five weeks. What you can expect if you go into preterm labor is to be admitted to the hospital labor and delivery ward, monitored and given something to help stop the contractions, if they slow down enough you are released to go home. If not, you may end up staying in the hospital for a while, or depending on your condition, until the babies are born.
10. Where can I find some good resources for having twins?
I found several online support groups just by searching the term "twin pregnancy." There are other WebPages such as ivillage, or parenting.com that have some limited information on twins. One good book I would recommend buying would be The Multiple Pregnancy Sourcebook by Nancy Bowers, R.N., B.S.N.