Worried about preterm labor? Learn how to avoid preterm labor with your twin pregnancy.
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 cervix! 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. They will often have a different opinion as to when you need to avoid preterm labor and when you can let it go. Some say the longest you should go in a twin pregnancy is 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 in terms of preventing preterm labor and keep those sweet little babes cooking in there as long as possible:
Lay down to avoid preterm labor
I was advised by my doctors to start laying down 3-7 hours a day starting at 24 weeks in order to avoid preterm labor. And that doesn’t even include the 8 hours of sleep I should also be getting at night. 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. Explain that the name of the game is preventing preterm labor as long as possible and cook two little babies in your womb until they’re ready to make their grand entrance into the world.
Drink up to avoid preterm labor
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. That made them occur much less frequently. Adequate hydration is crucial to avoid preterm labor. 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.
Eat up to avoid preterm labor!
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”. There’s no shame in our drive-thru game here at Twiniversity! 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?
The point is to throw that super-strict diet right out the window. Don’t be counting to 1800 calories and then starving yourself until bed time. This is not the time to closely monitor your weight. You and your babies NEED the calories to function. Your babies need them to grow and you need them to avoid preterm labor. Pregnant women who eat a ‘prudent’ diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and who drink water have a significantly reduced risk of preterm delivery, suggests a study.
Cut back your social life to avoid preterm labor.
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! 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 to care for your unborn babies. 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? Friends and family are there to support you and also want what’s best for you and your babies, too! Let them take care of you and cater to you a bit, for a fun twist on a typical girl’s night. This is actually a great time to learn to start leaning on those around you for support. Let them help you in your quest to avoid preterm labor during your twin pregnancy.
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! Be prepared for that and remember that you need to take care of yourself and your babies to avoid preterm labor and other complications to the best of your ability.
What are five 5 risk factors for preterm labor?
- Late or no health care during pregnancy
- Drinking alcohol
- Using illegal drugs
- Domestic violence, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
While this is not a complete or comprehensive list, these are the most common things you can address to avoid preterm labor. Other than this short list, you really need to follow the best advice you get from your doctors. Remember that you are growing two tiny little humans. Give yourself a lot of time to rest and take care of yourself for the best chance at preventing preterm labor and carry your little ones as close to full-term as possible.
Can preterm labor be prevented?
While preterm labor cannot always be prevented, there are plenty of things you can do to help avoid preterm labor. Make and keep all necessary prenatal appointments. The importance of proper prenatal care just cannot be overstated here, especially in terms of avoiding preterm labor in you twin pregnancy. Taking all of your doctors’ advice to heart and following guidelines and restrictions is critical in getting your babies to a healthy birth.
What are the early signs of 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 thing you should definitely do to help avoid preterm labor is to go to the dentist. Gingivitis can be a trigger.
Overall, there are plenty of ways you can gain a bit of control during your twin pregnancy. Obviously, you can’t control every aspect of it, and things will most definitely NOT go as planned all the time, but following doctor’s orders can really help you to avoid preterm labor and a whole bunch of other complications! You’ve got this!