Whether you’re having twins, triplets or more, pregnancies involving multiples are more complicated than a typical single pregnancy. In addition to having more new lives dependent on you, the pregnancy itself comes with a whole host of questions, including:
- What caused me to have multiples, rather than a single baby? Heredity, race and number of previous pregnancies all play a role. Women older than 30 are more likely to get pregnant with multiples, as are women who use fertility treatments.
- Are my babies more at risk for birth defects? Yes. Conditions such as cerebral palsy, neural tube defects and congenital heart defects are about twice as likely in multiples as in single children.
- Should I limit my activity? Talk to your doctor. Limitations vary by pregnancy and will likely be determined by your doctor monitoring you closely.
- How much weight should I gain? You should gain more than if you were pregnant with one child. The amount varies by how many babies you are carrying and your pre-pregnancy weight, so check with your doctor about what’s healthiest for you.
Having an open line of communication with your doctor is the best way to get answers to any questions you have, and to ensure you will have the healthiest pregnancy possible. This is particularly important for mothers of multiples, as you are more at risk for certain complications.
The most common complications that arise in pregnancies involving multiples include:
- Low birth weight
- Preterm labor and delivery
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Need for Cesarean section
You’re also at higher risk for iron deficiency, a severe form of morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum, and postpartum depression.
One of the most concerning is, of course, preterm labor and delivery. The length of your pregnancy typically goes down when you’re pregnant with multiples—for example, twin pregnancies last 36 weeks and triplets last 32, on average, compared to a typical 39 to 40 week pregnancy—so your doctor will likely watch you closely and may even prescribe bed rest if you show signs of preterm labor.
You’ll have more frequent appointments than mothers of singles, you’ll have to travel less and rest more, and you’re likely to be more uncomfortable toward the end—especially in summer—but at the end of it all, you’ll have more than one smiling, healthy baby going home with you.