by Shannon Harlow
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.
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.