Twin pregnancies carry some unique and difficult challenges — one of those being the risk of preterm labor. You are carrying two babies at once! There is a lot of gravity working against you and your pelvic bone! You will most likely deliver before your “due date”, which is estimated at 40 weeks just like moms with singletons — that has never made sense to me, but I digress…
Every OB has a different opinion on when you should deliver. Mine said the longest she'd let me go was to 39 weeks. Some doctors want to deliver at 37 weeks (which is considered “full term”) or even earlier, especially if you are having higher-order multiples. The harsh reality is that your little ones might decide they are ready to come out before you're ready to have them. While sometimes this can't be avoided, there are things you can do to avoid preterm labor and keep those sweet little babes cooking in there as long as possible:
I was advised by my doctors to start laying down 3-7 hours a day starting at 24 weeks. And that doesn't include the 8 hours of sleep I should also be getting. I arranged with my office to lay on the cot in the first aid room for my 1 hour lunch break every day, which really helped. Then I'd get into bed ASAP every night after a quick dinner. I averaged 4 hours of rest a day this way and I made it to 36 weeks before I just couldn't handle sitting at my desk anymore. Two more weeks laying down all day at home and the babies came on their own at 37 weeks/6 days. I truly believe that all the resting I did contributed to that. If you're in a profession where you have to be on your feet all day, have a serious talk with your doctor early on about when you should plan to stop working and brainstorm ideas with your boss on how to get you off your feet as much as possible.
You are going to be super thirsty very early on in your pregnancy. This is your body telling you that it needs a lot of extra water. Listen to your body and give it the water it desperately needs. I set a minimum of 12 cups of water a day — that's 96 ounces — but I really aimed to drink 1 gallon (128 oz.) a day. By 27 weeks I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions so often that I made my minimum 1 gallon per day and that made them occur much less frequently. Here's a tip — drink at least half of your water before noon so you're not up every hour peeing in the middle of the night.
This is the time to pig out. Try to focus on quality carbs, lean proteins, and hearty veggies and fruits (a great source of water, too!) But don't beat yourself up if what you crave isn't always considered “healthy”. Now is the time to splurge. Your babies need those calories to get big and fat in there! Order in take-out whenever you want — hey, you'll be laying in bed every night, so why not enjoy some delicious Chop Suey while doing so?
Cut Back Your Social Life.
This is a really hard one. Soon you will have 2 babies to care for and then you'll really be busy, so cutting your social life while pregnant can be a real buzz-kill! But running around town trying to get all your social time in will exhaust you and eat away at the time when you should be resting. It sucks, I know. But there are some things you can do keep your friendships going at this time. Try to get your friends to come and visit you at home for take-out and a DVD. How about a Skype or FaceTime chat on your laptop or smartphone? If you are itching to go out to a dinner or event, plan one close to home so there's not too much travel or walking involved, especially in the second half of your pregnancy. I remember my last meal in a restaurant was at 32 weeks and I just couldn't handle sitting at a table anymore after that!
So how do you know if you're having preterm labor?
Natalie Diaz's book, “What To Do When You're Having Two” explains what to look out for during your pregnancy that can be a sign of preterm labor…
“The signs of preterm labor vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. What might have been a harmless symptom for your sister may not be for you. Speak with your doctor about what you should look out for in regards to preterm labor. If you google “signs of preterm labor,” you’ll find hundreds of them from stomach cramping to heavy spotting. These are all true, but I tell my Twiniversity students to call your doctor if you have:
- Any excessive cramping
- Any spotting (of any color)
- Any unusual discharge
- Any lower back pain
- Any unexplained diarrhea
- Any contractions (Any! Even if they aren’t steady or strong, call the doc.)
- Any pelvic pressure
But the number one thing I tell my students is to trust your instincts. Don’t feel funny calling the doctor. You won’t regret calling, so if you are feeling “off” or just not like yourself, call your doctor, tell him/her your symptoms, and let them make the call on if you should come in or not. Also, one think you should definitely do to help prevent preterm labor is to go to the dentist. Gingivitis can be a trigger.”
Read more of Natalie's book, available now in hard cover or for Kindle, by visiting Amazon.com.
How far did you get in your twin pregnancy? What did you do to avoid preterm labor? (or at least fend it off as long as possible?) Share with us in the comments!
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