What to expect when you’re having twins

Discovering that you’re expecting more than one baby is exciting but daunting too. Dr Miriam Stoppard explains what to expect if you’re having twins

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Healthy not hefty

Like all mums-to-be, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet to give your babies the best start. “You shouldn’t think you have the freedom to eat for three because you don’t. You only need an extra 500 calories a day max,” says Miriam. “Make sure you take folic acid – if possible, before conception and then up until the 12th week of pregnancy – and plenty of omega-3s, found in oily fish or as a supplement, for the healthy development of your babies’ eyes, brain and spinal cord.”

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Extra care

If your twins share a placenta (monochorionic twins), there’s a risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. “This means that one twin is taking more of the blood supply than the other twin, so if on the 12-week scan it looks like one baby is smaller than the other, you might be referred to an obstetrician who specialises in twin pregnancies,” says Miriam. Complications, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, are more common in a twin pregnancy. “That’s simply because of the strain on the body. So your blood will be monitored more often, as will your urine, blood pressure, and heart,” says Miriam.

Rest is best

“Women with twin pregnancies get very, very tired and you have to be disciplined about rest. In the last trimester you should take rests whenever you feel tired, or if you get breathless or dizzy,” says Miriam. “Remember: never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie. You should be lying down at least twice in the morning and in the afternoon during the third trimester, and most of the last month if you can.”

Special delivery

Twins are more likely to be born early, but like a single pregnancy, there are lots of factors that’ll influence when your babies make their entrance. “Depending on your health, whether you’ve got an underlying medical condition – or one has developed during pregnancy – the size of your babies and whether the placentas are performing well, a decision may be taken from 36 weeks onwards to let the pregnancy go to a spontaneous labour, induce it early or do an elective caesarean,” says Miriam.

All hands on deck

A strong support network is vital for all new mums. “Call on aunties, grannies, whoever you can to help you with the babies. You really mustn’t hesitate, because it’s very easy to feel like things are getting on top of you,” says Miriam, herself a granny to 5-year-old twin girls. “My daughter-in-law had three main helpers and she called us her A Team, so get your team in place.”

Give yourself a break

Remember that you’re not expected to be Supermum, so don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t always go to plan. “My daughter-in-law was very concerned to breastfeed her babies. But it was taking so much out of her. She continued but just didn’t do it full-on in the way she had been,” says Miriam

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Did you know…

  • Around 1 in every 30 babies born in the UK is a twin, triplet or quadruplet.

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