Based on the high readership of my Best Friend’s Guide to IVF, I decided to have a go at extending the series to now include “Twin Pregnancy”.
Let me begin by saying that in no way am I an expert on twin pregnancy. Definitely not in the way the mother who just gave birth to her third set of twins is an expert anyway. But I have my experience and what more do we ask from our best friend than the naked truth based on their experience.
Please also note that this is in no way a judgement on anyone, it is my experience and my opinion, nothing more.
So here it is:
- Multiplication. Take everything you read about pregnancy and then multiply it by the number of babies you are carrying. Do not read the “what to expect” and expect your experience to be like that. It will not look like that and you will stress yourself out thinking there must be something wrong with you and your babies. The average woman is pregnant for 40 weeks. A twin pregnancy is considered full term at 37 weeks. So if you are carrying two babies take 37 and times it by two, it will feel as though you will be pregnant for 74 weeks. So if you are 6 weeks pregnant with 2 babies consider yourself 12 weeks pregnant and then read that chapter of the “what to expect” book. Obviously your babies are not 12 weeks big, but in terms of the way you will be feeling this is roughly where you will be.
- Rest. I don’t mean bed rest and I don’t mean just sitting down once in a while, I mean proper rest. There is no scientific evidence that bed rest makes any difference to pre-term labour, but you will need your rest. I was extremely fortunate in that I had a doctor who felt strongly that I stop working at 28 week, I was doubly fortunate to have an income protector scheme in place which meant that the insurance paid my full salary for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy when I stopped working. I don’t know for sure, and as I say there is no scientific evidence to suggest it is true, but I feel quite strongly that taking it easy helped me carry my babes until we literally evacuated them and helped them to grow big and strong. At my last scan at almost 37 weeks my cervix was still long and tight and my babes had plenty of fluid still. I gave birth to 6.4kgs of baby and the OB commented when he cut on how much fluid my babes still had. Truth be told I think if I hadn’t had the c-sec I might have carried beyond 40 weeks, although I think the pain might have finished me off my then. I stopped working at 27 weeks, I never went on bed rest, but I started lying down every day. I kept active up to about 32 weeks when I could no longer fit behind my steering wheel or reach my feet and then I just slowly became less and less mobile the bigger I became.
- Weight. I remember hearing early on in my pregnancy that I should gain 18kgs. I was horrified, I had lost quite a bit of weight in the run up to that last IVF and the thought of gaining weight didn’t appeal, it also didn’t sound healthy. I asked my OB about it and he said, “well you can try to gain less, but…”. I read a book that recommended gaining 11kgs by 18 weeks and I pretty much aimed for that and achieved it. The suggestion was that this level of weight gain will assist your babes to grow well in the early stages when they have space and will serve them well if they come early. I followed this and my babes grew brilliantly, coming at 3.26 and 3.14 kgs at 37 weeks 3 days. But I have a friend who actually lost weight her first trimester and never gained much in the second and only gained minimal weight in the whole pregnancy. Her babes came perfectly healthy at full term too (if not quite as massive as mine). The book also suggested aiming to gain around 18kgs in total for a twin pregnancy. From around 33 weeks I started gaining much faster than the graph recommended and ended up gaining 30kgs in total. But now in hind sight I am almost positive that was almost all water retention because within two weeks of giving birth I was back to my pre-IVF weight (i.e. lost 30kgs in 2 weeks). I guess what I am saying here (and I am not a doctor so not giving medical advice, just my opinion) you should eat healthily, eat small and regular meals and go with that. Your body will put the needs of growing your babes first and you will come second, so if you follow the lead of your body you should do great.
- Food. Eating for me was a challenge throughout my pregnancy. At the beginning of the pregnancy I found even thinking about eating made me nauseous. One afternoon Chris and I were driving home and he asked me what I felt like for dinner and there I was dry heaving. I had bad morning sickness. And eating at the end of the pregnancy became hard work because there just wasn’t space for my food anymore, but small constant eating saw me through both. I also tried to concentrate on higher protein and high in Omega 3 foods to help my babies little brains develop. But some days I was just gad I could eat and what it was really didn’t matter.
- Morning Sickness. I am sure I have heard some twin moms say they weren’t that sick, but I had it horrendously. Everything made me nauseous, everything. I couldn’t open the fridge, pack the dishwasher, put anything in the dustbin. I certainly couldn’t cook raw meat and talking about food made me heave. At around 15 weeks a friend cooked me dinner that seemed to cure the worst of it and I was just sick in the mornings. But I continued to vomit almost every morning until the morning after the twins were born, yes the morning AFTER!
- Heartburn. I have never in my life experienced anything like it. I simply bought giant bottles of Gaviscon and literally drank it out the bottle towards the end. I did buy the neat little packets which I kept in my handbag for when out and about.
- Wiping. Sorry but your best friend would be graphic. I really struggled to wipe myself once my tummy reached certain proportions. I would get a stitch in my tummy trying to twist reach behind me, and couldn’t reach around the bump to even wipe from the front. If anyone had seen me some days they would have killed themselves laughing at the positions I was getting into.
- Piles. You will get them, almost certainly. I remember visiting a friend of mine who was around 30 weeks with her twins and in hospital and she asked me if I had piles. I was so relieved she had asked the question because it meant she had them too. Honestly they are nothing to be embarrassed about, no one needs to examine them (unless they are really bad), just get a remedy from the pharmacy, it will help the discomfort.
- PND. You stand a much higher risk than normal of Post Natal Depression if you have multiples, you also stand a much higher risk of PND if you are an infertility survivor. Do not be brave, do not struggle through, get help. Also bear in mind that the hormones raging through your body after giving birth and whilst breastfeeding can seriously overwhelm you. I found I would cry at the very thought of Chris going to work the next day, I couldn’t bear the thought of him being away from us. I tried to mainline rescue remedy, I drank copious quantities of it in my jungle juice while I was breastfeeding, but all that helped was time. But I did not have full on PND, just the usual new mom “overwhelmed by parenthood” think (times two)
What have I missed, what would you tell your best friend if she fell pregnant with twins, what do you think she NEEDS to know?