Carrying twins is very different from carrying one baby. Read some of the most surprising differences between twin pregnancy vs single pregnancy symptoms.
I thought I had pregnancy down pat with my singleton. I did the research and went through nine months of pregnancy and finally, delivery. I figured my second pregnancy would be as simple as the second time around.
Then, when I found out about the twins, I felt like I entered a whole new world with requirements and protocols I didn’t need to know with a singleton.
How different are twin pregnancies from singleton ones? Very. And it’s not just having a bigger belly either, despite what I had assumed when I first learned I was having twins. (Read about my first reaction when I heard the news.)
From pregnancy risks to energy levels, carrying twins is nothing like carrying a singleton.
Twin pregnancy vs single pregnancy symptoms
Below are surprising differences between singleton and twin pregnancies:
More fatigue and morning sickness
“I think I’m carrying a girl,” I told my husband before our first prenatal appointment. “My nausea and fatigue are worse this time around. Maybe it’s because the baby is a girl.”
Girl or not, extra fatigue and morning sickness go with twin pregnancies. “You’re making two placentas,” my doctor informed me. And since you’re carrying larger, your body will ache a whole lot more.”
Exercise isn’t as important
With my singleton pregnancy, I exercised often, from walking to swimming to prenatal yoga. With twins, I was ready to pass out after a 30-minute walk.
“Is exercise necessary with this twin pregnancy?” I had 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. During my singleton pregnancy I had heard and practiced the importance of exercise.
Twin pregnancies pose different risks though. With twins, rest is more important than active exercise. You’ll still want to be limber and moving and not be a sloth, but when your body tells you that a simple walk is too much, you’d be wiser to heed its warning signs.
Increased risks and more prenatal visits
Having twins increases risks and complications. You’ll see your doctor more so that she can monitor any changes and risks. “I’ll be seeing you about every two to three weeks for a while,” my doctor had said. With my singleton, I saw her once a month for most of my pregnancy.
Rest is imperative
I made it a mission to rest during my twin pregnancy. While you can’t guarantee yourself from pre-term labor, my doctor advised me to take it easy. If you feel like taking a nap, take a nap. If you’re too tired to stand up to cook, don’t. Lie down often and take care not to lift or carry anything heavy.
Taking it easy becomes even more crucial during the last few months. Your body is so tired and more likely to enter pre-term labor.
Drink one gallon of water per day
I always considered myself a big water drinker. I don’t drink anything else, other than tea. So when I heard that I should drink one gallon—or 16 (8 ounce) cups—of water per day, I assumed I already was. Just to be safe, though, I began measuring and keeping track of how many cups I downed for the day.
Surprisingly, I barely reached 10 cups, and that’s with me putting in some effort. I even wondered whether I was drinking the eight cups of water that everyone should drink. I never knew how difficult drinking 16 cups of water is, but I tried to make it a point to. In a twin pregnancy, staying hydrated can keep contractions away and your body hydrated.
I bought a one-gallon water bottle which I kept nearby to track how much water I actually drank.
A lot more vitamins
With my singleton pregnancy, one prenatal vitamin a day sufficed. So imagine my surprise when my doctor recommended an extra 2,000 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium. (Prenatal vitamins typically have 220 IU of vitamin D and 145 mg of calcium.)
Plus, she gave me a prescription for an iron supplement and recommended at least 1mg of folic acid.
(On the positive side, taking all those vitamins helped 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 twins, where my doctor preferred I didn’t travel at all. Twenty-four weeks is the latest most doctors will allow their twin moms to travel if they must.
Plus, travel itself is so tiring, you won’t want to add extra stress on your pregnancy. (Remember that “rest is imperative” paragraph?) ANd complications can happen more often and at any time during a twin pregnancy. Staying local is advisable should anything happen. For instance, if you happen to deliver early and the twins are admitted into the NICU, you won’t be able to take them home until they’re ready–a huge adjustment if you’re traveling.
Prepare everything way in advance
60% of twin pregnancies are born prematurely (less than 37 weeks), with the average twins born at 35 weeks. Have your hospital bags packed, car seats installed, and cribs ready to go in advance. Get a list of my hospital bag must-haves, including a free printable checklist.
Moms of di/di twins should be ready by 30 weeks (with mo/di and mo/mo twins even earlier). Increased complications can sometimes land moms into the delivery room early. While no one wants their babies born that early, it’s smart not to put things off to the last minute.
Twins are a whole new world.
Is a twin pregnancy harder than a singleton one? I say yes. I thought twin pregnancies just meant your belly is huge and your babies are small.
I spoke with a friend who also carried twins and she admitted she wasn’t prepared. She even wondered whether she could’ve avoided complications if she hadn’t been better informed.
It’s overwhelming to consider just how different this experience had been from my singleton pregnancy, but I’m glad I learned all I could to best prepare for the arrival of my twins.
Want more resources on expecting twins? I created an all-encompassing guide on how to prepare for your twins! Get the Expecting Twins Guide here.