Every pregnancy is a different experience. Whether it be different mums or the same mum with different babies, there’s always something that feels different. So it’s only expected that a pregnancy when you’re carrying twins, triplets, or more (way to go!) will be pretty different from one with just one fetus, however, this difference is not just in the way it may feel emotional, but also physiologically. Here are some things to expect when carrying multiples.
'Multiples' is the term given when a woman is carrying more than one baby at once. This could include identical twins (from the same egg), fraternal twins (from separate eggs), triplets, or more than three embryos at any given time.
Signs which tell you that you’re carrying twins or multiples:
- Ultrasound in the first trimester
- Doppler heartbeat effect (hearing multiple heartbeats)
- Fatigue in the early stages of pregnancy (it’s a common complaint)
- Movement in the first trimester
- Movement felt in different areas if the womb
- Exacerbated nausea
- Abdomen size is larger than usual
- Unusual weight gain and appetite increase
- Spotting might be more common
Carrying multiples is generally associated with added health risks, the most common one being the premature birth of any/all of the babies. This way, women carrying multiples are generally advised to take more care than a singleton pregnancy.
Health complications that you might have:
- Gestational diabetes
- Gestational hypertension
- Polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid)
- Postpartum haemorrhage
- Postpartum depression
- Health complications for the babies may include:
- Low birth weight
- Imbalance in the blood supply to both/all the fetuses
- Infant mortality/death of the baby within the first month of birth
- Physical birth defects
- Growth problems
There are certain common factors that have been known to have a positive association with multiple pregnancies. These factors are commonly seen in women who carry and/or give birth to multiples:
- Being over 30 years
- Family history of multiples
- Certain types of fertility treatment
Tips for if you're carrying multiples:
1. Natural birth tend to be safer, however, there may be issues with respect to the positioning of the fetuses, in which case, a C-section may be more advisable (in case the fetus is now in the head-down position).
2. Ensure that your diet has adequate amounts of nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein, as these are the primary nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy and fetal development.
3. You may need to limit physical activity to a larger extent than if you were having a single pregnancy - this doesn't mean you cannot engage in any physical activity. The amount of which this is to be limited should be determined by your healthcare provider who knows about your pre-pregnancy conditions and pregnancy conditions.
4. Weight gain is essential in every pregnancy, however, it is healthier to gain more weight in multiple pregnancies when compared to a single pregnancy.
The most important thing to keep in mind, with any pregnancy, is to keep going for regular checkups in order to ensure that your baby/babies are developing healthily; if they are not, your doctor can help you decide what steps should be taken to prevent complications and improve development. Take care of yourself because when you do that, you're taking care of your babies.