If you are preparing for the joy of a new arrival – times two – then you might be wondering if there are differences you will experience during your pregnancy because of this. Multiple pregnancies are increasing in occurrence and there are certain things you need to know about having twins that will help you have the most enjoyable, healthy pregnancy possible.
Facts About Twins
Pregnancies with twins have their own unique challenges as well as unique ways the mother’s body responds to this extra demand.
Weight Gain in a Twin Pregnancy
You’re going to need at least 2,700 calories every day, but you’re not going to want to overeat or get those calories from treats and desserts. The typical twin pregnancy will mean that a pregnant mom gains between 35 and 45 pounds.
Because you’re carrying two babies and adding more weight, you’re probably going to be more uncomfortable than if you were just carrying one. Continue to exercise as prescribed by your doctor, and be sure to put your feet up when possible to reduce swelling in your feet and legs.
Vitamins and Minerals in a Twin Pregnancy
Don’t be surprised if your doctor prescribes extra vitamin or mineral supplements for your twin pregnancy. Your body will likely need extra folic acid, an important factor in reducing neural tube birth defects.
Increased Risks with a Twin Pregnancy
Preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and excessive swelling is more common in twin pregnancies. Preeclampsia, especially if left under- or un-treated can lead to a much more dangerous and potentially fatal condition known as eclampsia. Twin pregnancies also have higher incidences of gestational diabetes, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Unfortunately, there are some conditions that are unique to multiple pregnancies that can be very threatening to the health of the unborn babies. One of these is twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), affecting identical twins. The placenta that is shared between the identical twins has abnormal blood vessels connecting the umbilical cords to the babies, or one twin might have an inadequate access to the placenta, meaning inadequate access to nutrients. There does not appear to be any way to prevent this condition and there are no known genetic risk factors for it.
In this condition one twin suffers from not enough nutrients and fails to grow, while the other twin is provided with too much circulating blood, making the heart work even harder. Chronic TTTS appears early in the pregnancy and tend to have poorer outcomes because the infants have too far to go before being viable at delivery. Acute TTTS happens later in the pregnancy, sometimes even during delivery, and while it can still have devastating effects, the twins have a greater chance for survival.
Preterm labor is perhaps one of the most known risk factors for twin pregnancies. Most moms carrying twins deliver between 36 and 37 weeks gestational age, and the minimum goal set by obstetricians is usually 34-36 weeks. The earlier the twins are born, the more likely health problems will arise, especially respiratory deficiencies from immature lungs. Sometimes mothers are prescribed bed rest to prolong the pregnancy, but that does not always ensure that preterm labor or delivery can be avoided.
A Healthy Twin Pregnancy
Even though there may be more challenges with a twin pregnancy, most moms who are pregnant with twins go on to deliver healthy babies. You’ll probably have many more visits with your obstetrician during these 9 months, but with your healthcare provider’s help, you can bring home double the joy at the end of this pregnancy adventure.