How I Survived 40 Weeks Pregnant with Twins
Full disclosure, my twins didn’t quite make it to 40 weeks… they were born just 2 hours shy of that magical number. But, hey, close enough! So, how did I do it? I’ll let you in on my dirty little secret: I have no idea!! Luck, education, and good choices, I suppose! Have you got two or more buns in your oven? Read on for all of my tricks and tips to give you and your littles ones the best shot of weathering your twin pregnancy!
1. Knowledge is Power.
I read two amazing twin pregnancy books that helped me understand how to best look after the health of myself and my growing babies, and what to expect throughout the pregnancy, delivery, and immediate postpartum period. The need to try to rest and stay relaxed as much as possible, how I needed to cram in at least 75 grams of protein a day and should aim to gain 24 pounds by 24 weeks for the best possible outcome, what to expect if the babies need time in NICU, and how to tandem breastfeed, for example. They were recommended to me by my doula, and I recommend them to all twin mamas to be: “What To Do When You’re Having Two”, by Natalie Diaz (who also holds great twin prep classes in NYC, Chicago, and online through Twiniversity), and “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads” by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein. I turned to Google and Facebook Mothers of Multiples groups often, which helped answer a lot of questions and always fed my mantra, “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best”, but for some people those resources can cause much more anxiety than relief, so be careful.
2. Choose your Team Wisely.
All twin (or higher order multiples) pregnancies are considered “high risk”, and a number of things can go wrong that are completely out of your hands. It is essential to seek out care providers who are very experienced with your type of pregnancy, are on board with the type of birth you are aiming for, and whose general philosophies you agree with. Despite a common misconception, c-section is NOT required for all multiple births and shouldn’t be the standard protocol pushed on every mother carrying twins. I asked around and specifically sought out a practice with multiple OBs, all having lots of experience delivering twins, and I confirmed at our first appointment the scenarios where a vaginal birth would be attempted or not. They were extremely supportive of vaginal birth for me, in fact, pushing me toward it in the end when I was having major concern over the dreaded “double whammy” – pushing out the first baby, and ending up with an emergency Cesarian for the second baby. I also got nervous as we neared the 38 week mark, because that’s the deadline most doctors give their twin mothers before inducing or turning to c-section. But, I trusted my team, they knew my history, my health, my babies’ health, and they felt 100% certain that going up to 40 weeks and delivering vaginally would be the healthiest option for all of us. So, that’s what we did and looking back I am so grateful I chose this team (Guirguis OBGYN if anyone’s in Brooklyn or Staten Island – they’re fabulous!!).
3. Stay Active but Take it Easy.
Total oxymoron but depending on how you feel and what your doctor has ordered, it can definitely be to your benefit to stay as active as possible. At the same time, you have to make it a priority to lay down with your feet up for at least a couple of hours cumulatively throughout the day, make sure you’re eating well, staying super hydrated, and sleeping enough. Definitely easier said than done, but you have to try because there are several lives at stake. While pregnant with my twins, I was working from home and had a very active but fairly independent 2 year old. We live in Brooklyn without a car, so continued our lifestyle of walking 1-4 miles a day to go to the library, grocery store, park, etc. Even right up to the end at 39-40 weeks!! But when we were home, I was sitting or laying on the couch for a good portion of that time, and when times were really tough with morning sickness in the first trimester and terrible hip pain in the third trimester, he got an iPad… a lot. But, you do what you gotta do!
4. Let Positivity Prevail
Sure, there are a million things that can go wrong while pregnant with twins. I was terrified before each checkup, wondering if the sonogram would reveal we were another case of Vanishing Twin Syndrome, scared they would find something wrong with one of the babies, or that I would be showing signs of preterm labor. Whenever I felt myself starting to freak out, I would remind myself: If something is wrong, you’ll deal with it then, with your team. But, most likely everything is fine and there is absolutely nothing to worry about, so stop it because it’ll cause more harm than good!! Positive thoughts only. How happy those babies are all warm and cozy in there together. How you’re going to carry them full term, have a beautiful birth, and love them unconditionally. Focus on all of that! Of course it doesn’t go perfectly for everyone, and it’s important to roll with the punches, be flexible, trust your team, and come to terms with whatever doesn’t go as planned (don’t rule out therapy before or after delivery – birth trauma and post part depression are real and can be life threatening). But it’s pointless to be worrying about all of the “what ifs” when you will very likely never actually have to deal with them! If you’re finding it hard to simply let these worries go, definitely talk to your care provider, your partner, and maybe even another professional such as a therapist or a doula.
So there you have it, the aspects of my twin pregnancy that helped me and my girls make it to (nearly) 40 weeks! I definitely chalk most of it up to pure dumb luck – luck that they were the type of twins that are the lowest risk (two sacks, two placentas i.e. dichorionic/diamniotic “di/di” twins), luck that my body was able to carry them to term, and luck that the induction was incredibly easy and successful. My twinnies are now 2 years old and it seems like another lifetime that they were in my belly. So, here is one final recommendation I have for you: memorialize your pregnancy in some way – bump photos, a belly cast, something! I took weekly photos of my toddler and my bump and turned it into a stop motion video, something I will always treasure and even my kids now enjoy watching (and they’re not alone, it has over 500K views on my YouTube channel). You may feel huge and nauseas and uncomfortable, but you will treasure looking back on those photos or videos one day, so make sure to take the time and make the effort, and then go lay down and put your feet up!