by Shannon Harlow
Congratulations! It's More than One!
I know what you're thinking. Trust me! These words are life changing words even if you have a tiny inkling that more than one is possible. Having one baby is cause enough for a new or even an experienced mom to worry. But the worry only multiplies at hearing you're carrying multiples.
There are a plethora of things your doctor will probably throw at you once the determination has been made of the number of babies in utero. So, after you've had a moment to freak out or pick your partner up off the floor, now is the time to get serious and start asking the right questions to start your pregnancy out right. And, when you're still reeling from shock sometimes, not much is retained so feel free to grab the nearest pen and paper and take some notes.
Of course, if you're like me, I think most moms start with the question, "How?" But, really you should be thinking about all the who's, what's, when's, where's, why's and finally how's in between. There's a lot to know but start with the basics and let your doctor fill in the blanks. If you need more clarification, ask! Don't leave the doctor with more questions than answers.
Important Questions to Ask About Your Multiple Pregnancy
How many? Whether you're blessed with twins or supertwins (triples, quads, etc.) the number of babies will help you with the remainder of the questions below and the answers to them. So make sure they didn't miss any sacs or heartbeats.
Can you tell if the babies are in the same sac? Most monozygotic or identical multiples are enclosed within a shared chorion, or outer layer of the amniotic sac. A very small percentage of identical twins, less than 2 percent, share the amniotic space and could present additional complications so you and your doctor should know these risks.
Can you tell if the babies share a placenta? Fraternal or Dizygoic twins will have separate sacks and separate placentas. Most identical multiples share a common placenta. However, sometimes multiple placentas can fuse and appear as one. Also, some identical twins that split early on may develop their own sac and their own placenta. Knowing if one placenta is feeding all of your babies their life-source may also be something to discuss with your doctor for future possible concerns.
Actual due date versus realistic due date? When you're pregnant, regardless of the quantity on board, you will be given a 40 week due date. However, with multiples, it is more likely that the birth will come sooner. So discuss a realistic goal for you and babies. You will want them cooking for as long as possible so make it a point to discuss reaching your goal!
What do I need to eat and drink? Each baby heightens your recommended weight gain during your pregnancy. Don't panic. It's good for your babies! The amount of weight gained helps to develop and sustain your babies throughout the pregnancy. So find out what you should be eating and even more important…what you shouldn't! And, talk about your water intake as well. You're eating and drinking for at least 3 now!
Appointment schedule? With a singleton, the doctor schedules you once a month until around the last month of your pregnancy when your doctor sees you more frequently. With more than one baby, you are seen more often so make sure you leave your first visit with an idea of when your schedule will change from once a month to twice a month and then to once a week.
Sonograms? The most awesome part about a multiple pregnancy? The multiple sonograms! You will see your growing babies often! Since multiples carry a greater chance for complications to occur, the doctors monitor the babes more often, thus LOTS of photos and videos for the relatives and baby books. Find out when along the way you'll be seeing your bundles of joy.
Activity level? Singleton mommies are often encouraged to exercise during their pregnancy, to their doctor's recommendations, and this does not exclude multiple mommies. Exercise can be a great stress reliever and give you more stamina. But since you have much more going on with your body than a singleton pregnancy, discuss activity level with your doctor. Take their advice and listen to your own body tell you when to slow it down. You're only human, mom!
Complications? Right now you're probably thinking complications, pre-term labor, bed-rest and a c-section are inevitable but that may not be the case at all. Obviously, each woman's pregnancy presents its own unique set of circumstances regardless of the number of babies on board, but it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy that results in babies that may not even spend a second in the NICU. So, talk with your doctor, heed his every suggestion, hire a Sweet Pea Baby Planner in your city, kick your feet up and try to enjoy the next few months of your pregnancy!
Delivery? Make sure you discuss all of your birth options early. If you have your heart set on a type of birth, your doctor needs to know. If you want to deliver at a certain hospital, find out if your doctor has rights there.
Multiples are blessings multiplied. There's much to do but start with you and your babies' health. There are many more questions from here on out that you'll need to discuss with your doctor, but get the basics down. Know your expectations, your goals and your limits. And congratulations on your multiple pregnancy!
Shannon Harlow holds a degree in Communications and spent nearly a decade working in radio promotions. While traveling the country, working 10 hour days, she discovering that she was expecting twins! Today, Shannon is Sweet Pea Baby Planners' Multiples Expert and advises both new parents and other baby planners on how to best prepare for the arrival of multiple children at once. Shannon is also a green and Eco-friendly specialist and teaches on the subject to other concerned parents.
Copyright © Shannon Harlow. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.