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If you are pregnant with twins or triplets, it adds another layer of worry for new parents. Here is an overview of what you need to know.
Congratulations! You are going to be a mother soon. However, you then find out that you are carrying twins. Or even triplets! Whether your pregnancy is planned or unplanned, finding out that you are going to have twins or triplets, can be scary. You may worry about the difficulties of managing two babies at once and the increased financial responsibility. But long before the babies emerge from the the womb, you as the mother, need to be alert, aware of possible complications, and take good care of yourself.
Read on to find out more.
There is no denying, that pregnancies with multiples are riskier than single pregnancies. But don’t lose perspective. Remember, that a great majority of multiple pregnancies result in healthy babies, and all you have to do is make sure you go for regular check ups, and follow your doctor’s advice.
Carrying twins and triplets can put a lot of stress on your body, and you may face a few bumps along the way. So it is vital to choose a doctor you are comfortable with. Choose someone with whom, you can openly discuss any discomfort you are experiencing.
Pick some one close to home, because you will be visiting your doctor very often to monitor the progress of the babies as well as your own health. Regular check ups will ensure, that any complication is detected early, and dealt with effectively in a timely manner.
You may have a completely uneventful pregnancy, and that will be great. However, in case of pregnancies with multiples, the following complications are more likely, so ask your doctor if you are showing early symptoms for any these, and what you can do to overcome the problem.
Gestational diabetes, occurs when your pancreas cannot keep up with the increased need for insulin during pregnancy. It is usually a temporary condition, and is more common with twins or triplets. Regular visits to the doctor helps to detect this early, so it can be managed with diet and exercise and medicine if necessary.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition marked by high blood pressure and presence of protein in urine. It prevents the placenta from receiving enough blood, and often causes of premature birth. It occurs in about 10-15% of pregnancies with twins or triplets. Sometimes, pre-eclampsia may not present any early symptoms, so it is essential to regularly monitor blood pressure and do urine tests.
With two or more babies the uterus gets very crowded. Sometimes babies share a placenta and sometimes they have separate placentas. Either way the placentas take up a lot of space, and the uterus is stressed. As a result, the following problems may occur.
Sometimes a part of the placenta covers the cervix. This is called placenta pervia, and may cause vaginal bleeding at any time of the pregnancy. Bed rest helps, but in extreme cases blood transfusion may be necessary.
Sometimes, as a result of high blood pressure, which is more common in case of twins or triplets, the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus prematurely. This is called abruptio placentae, and in extreme cases the babies need to be delivered by C-section right away.
Intrauterine growth restriction is a condition in which a baby does not grow sufficiently in the womb. It affects 25% of multiple pregnancies, and results in one or both twins or triplets being smaller than normal. Sometimes one twin gets much less blood and nutrients than the other resulting in that twin being much smaller. Usually, doctors can spot this problem during check ups, and take steps to reduce the impact on you and the babies.
Namrata, a mother of twins, says that she encountered this problem and it wasn’t detected till the babies were born, but now at the age of 4 they are both doing fine.
Vanishing twin syndrome is when one twin survives and suffers a miscarriage. So when you go for your first ultrasound, your doctor may tell you, you are having twins, but then only detect one heart beat on your next visit. This occurs in about 21-30% of pregnancies with multiples. You may also experience some symptoms of a miscarriage, even though you are still carrying one baby.
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is a rare condition in 10 o 15 % of identical twins. This occurs when blood flows from one baby to the other through the shared placenta. But don’t worry, laser surgery can be used to seal off the connection between the blood vessels and treat it effectively.
C-sections are common with multiples, so it is good to discuss this with your doctor in advance. Depending on the position of the babies, a normal delivery may or may not be possible.
In case of twins or triplets, birth injuries are more common, and while one twin may be born perfectly healthy, the other may not. Sometimes, one or both babies, may need to spend time in an incubator or at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Again, this might happen, so just be prepared for the possibility – remember that most twins come out of this to lead healthy lives.
On average, twin pregnancies last 35 weeks, which means, on average, twins are born prematurely. Premature babies born after 34 weeks usually do very well. If you go in to labour before 34 weeks, ask your doctor if it is possible to delay labour for a few days with medication.
Babies born before 28 weeks usually need medical attention at a NICU. Premature birth may cause long-term health problems, including, hearing, vision and dental problems as well as, cerebral palsy or autism. Some of these conditions may be mild, and specialists and counsellors can help deal with these problems.
Birth weight under 2.5 kgs is considered low and is a common problem for multiples. Babies with low birth weight are at risk for health problems, like breathing on their own, fighting infections and controlling body temperature, even if they are not born prematurely.
A study in John Hopkins found, that women who deliver multiples are significantly more likely to suffer moderate to severe depression within 9 months after delivery. So if you are feeling depressed talk about it with friends and family, and know that it is not unusual. In extreme cases do not hesitate to sought professional help.
Caring for one new baby is a tough job for an inexperienced mother. Caring for two or three simultaneously seems like a herculean task. So don’t be shy to ask for help. Discuss how you will share baby care duties with your spouse or other family members.
Enjoy your motherhood!
Image source: By MultipleParent (Image:TwinsTwins.JPG) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to
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