More fatigue and morning sickness
“I think I’m carrying a girl,” I told my husband during the weeks before our first prenatal appointment. “My nausea and fatigue are considerably worse this time around. Maybe it’s because the baby is a girl.” Girl or not (I still don’t know the genders!), extra fatigue and morning sickness often accompany twin pregnancies. “You’re making two placentas,” my doctor informed me. And since I’m carrying larger, my body aches a whole lot more.
Exercise isn’t as important
With LO’s pregnancy, I exercised nearly every day, from walking to swimming to prenatal yoga. This time around, I was ready to pass out after a 30-minute walk. “Is exercise necessary with this twin pregnancy?” I asked my doctor. She smiled and shook her head. “You can do yoga and stretching, but I won’t have you doing aerobics or strenuous activities.” This blew my mind away, since during my singleton pregnancy I had heard and practiced the importance of exercise.
Twin pregnancies pose different risks though. In my case, rest is more important than active exercise. This isn’t to say that I’m a statue—my doctor still wants me limber and moving after all—but when my body tells my that a simple walk is too much, I’d be wiser to heed its warning signs.
Twin pregnancies have increased risks and more prenatal visits
Pregnancy always comes with its own risks and complications, but having twins increases those risks significantly. That’s why I now have to see my doctor more frequently so that she can monitor any changes and risks more closely. “I’ll be seeing you about every two to three weeks for a while,” my doctor had said. Normally I only saw her on a monthly visit for the first few months.
I also learned that certain twins carry more risks than others. For instance, twins that share the same placenta and sac are more likely to have complications and are often born no later than 32 weeks. Thankfully, mine have their own placentas and sacs and therefore have the potential to stay in utero for 38 weeks.
Rest is imperative
Never have I made it more of a mission to rest in my life than during the past few weeks. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent pre-term labor, for instance, my doctor advised me to take it as easy as possible. If I feel like taking a nap, I take a nap. If I don’t feel like standing up to cook, I don’t. I try to lie down as often as possible and take care not to lift or carry anything heavy. Taking it easy becomes even more crucial the last few months when the body is just so tired and more likely to go into pre-term labor.
Drink one gallon of water per day
I always considered myself a big water drinker. After all, I don’t drink anything else, other than tea. So when I heard the advice that I should drink one gallon—or 16 (8 ounce) cups—of water per day, I thought I had it down pat. Just to be safe, though, I measured out a cup and started keeping track of just how many I downed for the day.
Surprisingly, I barely made it to 10 cups, and that’s with me putting in some effort. After this experiment, I even wondered whether I was drinking the recommended eight cups of water that everyone—pregnant or not—should drink. I never knew how difficult it would be to drink 16 cups of water, but I try to make it a point to. In a twin pregnancy, staying hydrated can often stave off contractions and keep your internal body well hydrated.
Twin pregnancies require a lot more vitamins
With my singleton pregnancy, one prenatal vitamin a day sufficed, so imagine my surprise when my doctor recommended a whopping 2,000 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium. I checked the ingredients on my prenatal vitamins and saw that I was barely getting 220 IU of vitamin D and 145 mg of calcium. On top of that, she gave me a prescription of an iron supplement and recommended at least 1mg of folic acid. On the positive side, taking all those vitamins helps me reach my 16 cups of water requirement!
Limited to no travel
When I was pregnant with one baby, I was able to travel all the way up to 36 weeks. Not so with this one, where my doctor prefers I don’t travel at all. If it’s not too far or if I don’t have to fly in an airplane, then she conceded it might be okay, but it was like pulling teeth. Travel in itself is so tiring that you really don’t want to add the extra stress on your pregnancy (remember that “rest is imperative” paragraph?). And since complications can happen more often and at any time during a twin pregnancy, staying local is advisable should anything happen.
Everything needs to be prepped way in advance
More than half of twin pregnancies are born prematurely. So when they say that you should have your hospital bags packed, your car seats installed, and your cribs ready to go, it’s best to do so way in advance. I’ve read that twin moms should be ready by 30 weeks because often it’s the complications decide when your babies are born, not the normal contractions. While no one wants their babies born that early, twin pregnancies are commonly born prematurely that it’s just prudent not to put things off to the last minute.
This time around is so different. I knew nothing about these differences and really just thought that the extent of twin pregnancies is that your belly is huge and your babies are small. But based on my doctor and her staff, books I’ve read on twins, and advice from other twin moms, twin pregnancies are no joke.
I’m thankful I’m learning all of this though. I spoke with a co-worker who also had twins and she admitted that she wasn’t prepared whatsoever, and that she wonders whether she could have avoided several of her complications if she was better informed. So while it’s a bit overwhelming to consider just how different this experience is from my singleton pregnancy, I’m glad I’m learning all I can to downplay the increased risks I now face.
Were you surprised by any of the differences as I was?