Finding out that you are expecting multiples can be a very exciting time, yet it can often trigger anxiety, so it is important for women who are expecting twins, triplets or more to prepare for the differences that occur during their pregnancy, delivery, and recovery with multiples.
During pregnancy, women who are expecting multiples tend to gain more weight, as well as experience fatigue and other symptoms associated with later term pregnancy, earlier on in the process. They may also have more doctor’s visits and screenings throughout the pregnancy to closely monitor the mother and babies’ health, as carrying multiples increases risk of certain complications.
Carrying multiples increase the risk of pre-term labor and birth, blood pressure issues and gestational diabetes.
One of the most important risks associated with multiples is the risk of preterm labor, and since mom only has so much space for the babies to grow in, it is very common for twins or triplets to be born early. Twins are normally born around 36 weeks, while triplets are born closer to 34 weeks, yet it can happen earlier. As part of the extra education and monitoring a mother will receive when she finds out she is carrying twins or triplets, her doctor will teach her to recognize the signs of preterm labor. The signs can be subtle, but women should call their doctor right away if they experience:
- Lower back pain
- Regular contractions
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Light bleeding
- Leaking vaginal fluid
While multiples can be delivered vaginally, there is a higher rate of cesarean section than single babies, as another measure to ensure the safety of the mother and babies.
It is also important for mothers not to set too many expectations or put too much pressure on themselves. Raising multiples can be a challenge, yet a rewarding one. It is okay to ask for help taking care of a baby, and with multiple babies, lining up help for when the parents return home can make a big difference. Sleep is absolutely essential for recovery, so arranging for family members and/or close friends to come help with household chores and caring for the babies will allow the mother to get the rest she needs. With time, families figure out how to make it work and enjoy this amazing chapter of their lives.
Our community is fortunate, as the exceptional care team at Cone Health Women’s Hospital is dedicated to educating families who are expecting multiples, as well as providing top-of-the-line treatment for women throughout their pregnancy, delivery, and recovery.
Dr. Tanya Pratt is an OB/GYN and the medical director of Cone Health’s Center for Women’s Healthcare Faculty Practice. Dr. Pratt received a Bachelor of Science in biology from High Point University in 1993 and completed medical school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine in 1998. She completed her OB/GYN and family medicine residency at Riverside Regional Medical Center in 2003.