Multiple pregnancies bring their share of doubt and uncertainty. How will the pregnancy go? And childbirth? And what is life with twins like?
1. Will I see my doctor more often during my pregnancy?
Yes, pregnancy monitoring will be tighter, with examinations checking the good growth, reactivity, and cardiac activity of the fetus as well as tests to assess the risk of preterm labor.
2. Is my pregnancy more at risk?
Yes, 50% of women pregnant with twins give birth prematurely and the risks of hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and anemia, among others, are greater.
3. Can I be followed by a midwife?
No, multiple pregnancies are considered “high risk”, you must be followed by a doctor and give birth in the hospital.
4. Will the discomforts during pregnancy be doubled?
It all depends on each person, but it is possible that pregnancy nausea, back pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue (in case of anemia) are more important. The end of pregnancy is also likely to be more stressful.
5. Will I gain more weight than a single pregnancy?
Yes, for a woman with a healthy weight, we are talking about an average weight gain of 35 to 45 pounds (16 to 20 kg), compared to about 25 to 35 pounds (11.5 to 16 kg) for a single pregnancy.
6. Should I eat more?
You must actually increase your energy intake by about 200 calories/day in the 1st trimester, 400 calories/day in the 2nd trimester, and 600 calories/day in the 3rd trimester, while maintaining sufficient iron intake (30 mg/day) and folic acid (800 µg/day), then by increasing protein and calcium intake at the end of pregnancy.
7. Will my contractions be stronger?
No, but since the uterus is distended earlier in pregnancy, false contractions may occur earlier and be more frequent.
8. What are the possible complications during childbirth?
More than half of women pregnant with twins deliver by cesarean because one of the babies is breech or turned after the first came out, or because of fetal distress or cord entanglement umbilicals (for babies in the same amniotic cavity), for example.
9. Will I have to go through two births in one?
Yes and no. The different phases until the push are experienced only once. However, there will be separate pushes for each baby. Since it’s often the bigger baby born first, it paves the way for the second, which usually comes out easier and less than 15 minutes later.
10. Can I breastfeed?
This is quite possible because milk production adjusts to demand. The La Leche League has produced a document on the subject: lactation.ca.
11. Financially, is it more difficult with twins?
This actually involves more expenses because you have to buy the basic elements in duplicate (car seat, high chair, bed, etc.), but it is possible to save by buying the gadgets in single (chair vibration machine, activity mat, toys, etc.). Also, some stores offer discounts to parents of twins (Souris-Mini, L’Aubainerie, Clément, Panda, etc.).
12. Where can I find help?
In addition to family and friends, the Association of parents of twins and triplets of the Montreal region (apjtm.com) and the Association of parents of twins and more of the Quebec region (apjq.net) offers many services: breastfeeding assistance, telephone listening, referral, a forum for parents, etc. You can also contact the CLSC in your region and read books, and blogs and subscribe to a Facebook page on the subject.
Thanks to Dr. Sylvie Bouvet, obstetrician-gynecologist and president-elect of the Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Quebec, and to Gisèle Séguin, author of Jumeaux: mission possible! and herself mother of twins, for their collaboration.