1. Embrace elasticated waistbands
Unsurprisingly, women expecting twins tend to put on more weight than those carrying a single baby. On average a woman expecting one baby gains around 11-15kg. For a twin pregnancy, this increases to 16-20kg, a combination of two growing babies, fluid and placenta.
2. Clear your diary
Because all twin pregnancies are considered high risk, it’s usual for you to have more antenatal appointments and ultrasound scans. You’ll have regular appointments at the hospital throughout your pregnancy, as well as seeing your midwife as often as every two weeks.
3. Eat little and often
Side effects like nausea and vomiting can be more of a problem. Eating little and often can help keep nausea at bay.
4. Report bleeding
Bleeding is more common in twin pregnancies. It isn’t necessarily serious, but women who have any bleeding are advised to contact their midwife.
5. Be aware of pre-eclampsia
At your check-ups, your blood pressure will be checked for any sign of diabetes and pre-eclampsia, as well as common conditions such as anaemia. Pre-eclampsia occurs when there is a problem with the placenta, and this can cause growth problems in your unborn baby. It is three times more likely in twin pregnancies.
6. Pack your hospital bag early
Multiple pregnancies are less likely to carry to full term (40 weeks), so be prepared to make a hospital dash early. According to the Twins and Multiple Births Association (tamba.org.uk), your babies are more likely to put in an appearance at around 37 weeks.
7. Don’t assume you’ll need a C-section
Most women expecting twins assume that they will need a Caesarean birth. Although this is not necessarily the case, more than half of twin babies are born by C-section in the UK, so it’s important to keep an open mind.
8. Special aftercare
About half of twins are born weighing less than 2.5kg (5.5lb) and many may spend some time in neonatal care. A survey by Tamba found that 44 per cent of mums of twins said at least one of their babies had spent time in neonatal intensive care. This figure rose to 91 per cent for mothers of triplets. Remember, though, studies show premature multiples mature more quickly than single babies born at a similar time.
Feeding twins is time-consuming! Carol Clay, who runs Tamba’s helpline, says, ‘Because twin babies are smaller, it can take them time to latch properly. They can need feeding every two hours, which is time-consuming and exhausting. If possible, try to feed them at the same time.’
10. Be good to yourself
Mothers of multiple births are almost twice as likely to suffer from postnatal depression (PND) than mums of single children, according to research by Tamba. Carol says, ‘the tiredness and isolation can make you feel like you are not doing that well. It is important to establish a routine as early as you can and ask everyone you know for help.’
Where to go for help
Tamba is a UK charity providing information and local support networks for families of twins, triplets etc. Visit tamba.org.uk or call the helpline on 0800 138 0509.