You receive the news that you’re carrying twins or triplets, and you immediately start considering the logistics of life with more than one bundle of joy. As you plan for your larger-than-expected family, we’ll be here guiding you through your pregnancy, which can be quite different from carrying a single child.
At Serrano OBGyn, Dr. Christopher Serrano and our team of obstetric specialists have extensive experience helping women navigate pregnancy, including those who are carrying twins or triplets.
To help take some of the mystery out of what your pregnancy will be like, here’s what you can expect when you’re carrying twins or triplets.
Twins and triplets: More common than ever
Before we dive into your pregnancy, we want to assure you that we have considerable experience with twins and triplets. In fact, the United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that the twin birth rate has increased by over 75% since 1980, and the rate of triplets (and other high-order multiple births) has increased at an even higher rate.
Twins are the most common and occur in about 1 out of every 250 pregnancies, while triplets occur in 1 out of every 10,000.
While these numbers are national, they reflect what we’ve seen at our practice.
Shorter pregnancies with multiple babies
One of the first things that happens when we discover that you’re carrying multiple fetuses is that we place you into the high-risk pregnancy category. We understand that “high risk” may sound scary, but we do this as a precautionary measure and to provide you with a little more monitoring.
One of the primary reasons for this is that multiple fetuses often mean shorter pregnancies. With a single fetus, the normal gestation period is 37-42 weeks. With twins, this drops down to about 35 weeks and 32 weeks for triplets. Bear in mind that these are just averages, and your gestation period may be different.
Since multiples often deliver early, you should expect that your babies will weigh less. For example, the average singleton baby weighs about 7.3 pounds, while twins come in around 5.1 pounds and triplets 3.7 pounds.
As these are low birth weights, we do our best to keep your babies growing inside your womb for as long as we can. That means we monitor your second and third trimesters very carefully — typically once every 2-3 weeks until week 24, at which point we may want to see you weekly.
Eating for three, or four
We also pay close attention to your diet during your pregnancy, as it’s important that your unborn babies receive proper nutrition. In caloric terms, the rule of thumb is to add 300 calories to your diet for each child you’re carrying, and this increases in the latter part of pregnancy.
You don’t really need to count your calories, but it’s important to eat nutrient-dense foods. In other words, focus on fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, and be sure to get enough protein. We’ll help you tailor your nutritional intake to your unique needs.
Activity levels during your pregnancy
We typically tell expectant mothers that most activities are not only acceptable, but likely good for the health of both mother and child. This concept is no different if you’re carrying multiples, but we may have you choose more gentle activities. For example, if you’re a runner, we may recommend taking up yoga or swimming after a certain point, as running may become uncomfortable and risky.
Ultimately, your activity levels will largely be dictated by your comfort and the health of your babies.
Your comfort counts
Speaking of comfort, or discomfort in this case, expect that you’ll have more of it than you would just carrying one child. Your belly will be bigger, with added pressure on many of your systems, including your musculoskeletal system.
We can suggest ways to keep you more comfortable as you get bigger, and we should add that some women experience no discomfort at all.
We also recommend relaxation techniques that will serve you well as you progress through your pregnancy. Staying relaxed and calm is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your unborn babies.
The bottom line is that it’s important to have the right obstetric team in your corner, such as ours here at Serrano OBGyn. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact our office in San Antonio, Texas.