As a result of superstar singer Beyoncé and Amal Clooney’s recent announcement that they are both pregnant with twins, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about multiple pregnancies—specifically what makes them different from singleton pregnancies. In my experience, when moms find out that they are expecting multiples, they go through a range of emotions. Surprise is followed closely by joy and then often concern, as they are understandably unsure of what to expect and start to wonder how this pregnancy might be different.
If you are expecting multiples, here are five questions you should consider discussing with your doctor:
- Is there a greater risk associated with multiple pregnancies?
Although the vast majority of women carrying twins go on to deliver healthy babies, a multiple pregnancy carries greater risk because of the increased possibility of complications. Potential complications can include preterm labor, low birth weight, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and placenta abruption. Your doctor will monitor your health throughout your pregnancy for signs of these and other complications so that they can be properly managed.
- Will I feel different than with a singleton pregnancy?
With multiples, you are more likely to experience morning sickness due to increased levels of pregnancy hormones. Thankfully, even with multiples, morning sickness usually subsides after the first trimester. Other issues you should expect are back pain, difficulty sleeping and heartburn. You are also likely to gain more weight. The average weight gain for a single pregnancy is 25 pounds; women carrying multiples gain an average of 30-35 pounds.
- Will I require more care?
You should expect to spend more time at your OB/GYN’s office when carrying multiples. There are likely to be additional office visits and ultrasounds. Consultation with a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor—a doctor who specializes in caring for women who have complicated or high-risk pregnancies—is not uncommon because being pregnant with twins is considered a high-risk pregnancy. Visits to the hospital for evaluation are also not uncommon.
- Will I be put on bed rest?
Depending on the type of multiple pregnancy, or complicating factors, some people do require bed rest. Don’t panic! Bed rest doesn’t necessarily mean lying down all day long. It could simply mean that you need to decrease your physical activities or take more breaks throughout the day. Based on your lifestyle and pregnancy, your doctor will determine what bed rest means for you.
- Will I be able to carry my babies to term?
According to the March of Dimes, the average twin pregnancy lasts 35 weeks and triplet pregnancy lasts about 33 weeks, so it is highly likely that you will not carry multiple babies to full term. But don’t worry; babies born between 34 and 37 weeks are generally healthy.
The best thing that you can do is speak with your doctor about the signs of preterm labor and the different options available to you. In the event that you go into labor before 34 weeks, there are certain things that can be done to delay your delivery. Based on the positions of your babies, your doctor will discuss the different delivery scenarios with you so that you know what to expect before you arrive at the hospital. You are more likely to need a cesarean section and more likely to have a baby in the breech position (when a baby is positioned bottom first instead of head first).
Remember, when you find out that you are pregnant with multiples, it is completely normal to have lots of questions. After all, it’s a new pregnancy experience and you don’t always know what to expect. Whatever questions or concerns you may have, don’t be afraid to voice them to your doctor. We’re here to help.Dr. Ingrid Kotch is an OB/GYN with a practice at The Women’s Center of South Shore Medical Center in Weymouth. Physicians at The Women’s Center at South Shore Medical Center are currently accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call her office at (781) 682-8000.