After the initial shock of being told you are pregnant with twins wears off, many moms wonder how this will affect their pregnancy and delivery. While each twin pregnancy can vary, there are some general similarities worth reviewing.
From the outset, it will be important to gain additional weight and consume extra nutrients. If you are normal pre-pregnancy weight, you should aim to gain a total of 37–54 pounds. Overweight and obese women should gain 31–50 and 25–42 pounds, respectively. A referral to a nutritionist or dietician can help you make healthy food choices and stay on track.
One thing is for certain: if you are carrying twins: you will have many more appointments than if you were pregnant with only one baby! The idea is to closely monitor your babies’ growth as well as your overall health. Women carrying twins are at higher risk for developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and going into preterm labor, so it is likely you will undergo additional testing and surveillance.
Ultrasounds will be performed more often to check fetal heartbeats as well as to measure the babies’ growth and amount of amniotic fluid. You may also need appointments for fetal monitoring. During fetal monitoring, your uterus and babies’ heartbeats will be monitored for at least twenty minutes to make sure everything is in the normal range.
Twin pregnancies last on average only 35.3 weeks. Because of their early arrival (or because they are smaller than average singletons when born), 25 percent of twin babies need to stay in the NICU for some time after birth. This can be daunting, especially when you are adjusting to life with two new babies at once! Some NICUs offer tours to expectant high-risk parents, so you may want to look into this before you deliver.
Depending on how your babies are positioned in the uterus and their relative size, a vaginal delivery may be possible. This is an important discussion to have with your doctor. Whether you deliver vaginally or by C-section, be forewarned that the number of people in attendance at a twin birth sometimes makes it seem like a circus! This is because each baby needs his or her own dedicated team, so rest assured that everyone there has a job to do.
Many moms worry if they will be able to successfully breastfeed twins. This can definitely be done, and there are many resources out there to help parents of twins succeed at this. You may want to have a prenatal appointment with a lactation consultant to discuss some feeding strategies. This can help boost your confidence when the time finally comes.
- The American Congress of Obstetricians/Gynecologists: Practice Bulletin #56: Multiple gestation: Complicated twin, triplet, and other higher-order multifetal pregnancy.
The American Congress of Obstetricians/Gynecologists
- FAQ #92: Having twins.
The American Congress of Obstetricians/Gynecologists: Committee Opinion #548: Weight gain during pregnancy.