Mother’s health is the key to a successful multiple birth.
No single combination of words can be simultaneously so exciting and so terrifying as hearing, it’s twins. Having one baby can be emotionally and physically exhausting; more than one is truly an accomplishment. As a father of twin girls I can also tell you it’s a great experience.
If you are pregnant with more than one baby, you are far from alone. Multiple births are on the rise in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the twin birth rate has increased by over 75 percent since 1980. The use of fertility medications and becoming pregnant in your 30s are factors in creating a multiple birth. Also, a family history of twins is a good indicator of a potential multiple pregnancy.
Being pregnant with twins puts a lot of strain on the mother. While mom is naturally/ biologically set up to deliver nutrition to one baby, the body has to work twice as hard for twins. Mothers of multiples really need to pay attention to their diet and overall health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees and says proper nutrition is the most important step in caring for your pregnancy. In addition to prenatal vitamins and extra calories, it’s also important to sip on water throughout the day. Recommendations vary, but the general consensus is drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses a day. While all the bathroom breaks may start to drive you a little crazy, your babies’ extra blood flow and removal of wastes depend on that water.
There are several logistical challenges that will take some getting used to. Bathing, dressing and feeding for your multiples can be a handful. If you’re breast-feeding, talk to your lactation specialist about different feeding methods that allow you to feed both babies at the same time.
As your twins age, it’s important that they are allowed to develop their individuality. Everyone needs to be their own individual person, but at the same time, understand that twins will always share a special bond. Going through the same life events at the same time creates a great support network for siblings.
As an obstetrician, I can also tell you it’s vitally important to have a good relationship with your doctor. I tell all my patients to just relax and realize that you can’t do everything, so just do your best. While having multiples can be twice the work, you also receive twice the reward.
John E. Moore, M.D., is a general pediatrician working with the Carilion Clinic Children’s Hospital in Roanoke, VA. He has an undergraduate degree from Duke University and received his medical degree from Wake Forest. He has been a practicing pediatrician for over 17 years. He lives in Roanoke with his wife and twin daughters.