Having a baby is a miracle — having two babies is a double blessing and double trouble all rolled into one. Even from the very beginning of the pregnancy, things are more intense, and the life of a twin mom will never slow down again.
With twin pregnancies, moms-to-be can expect more of everything — more hormones, more food, more morning sickness, more blood, more doctor's appointments, more risks, more of absolutely everything. From her bigger baby bump to her extra intense mood swings, a twin mom's body goes through the same kinds of pregnancy struggles but everything multiplies — well, everything except for the length of pregnancy and possibly the growth of the babies, which is one reason why the risks are so high.
When they welcome their bundles of joy, twin moms will have to learn to juggle two of everything, so their pregnancy experience is personally suited to prepare them for that by multiplying everything early on. Since everyone want to talk so much about how much trouble twins are after the birth, most moms go through the pregnancy without knowing about all the things that go on during the pregnancy, so we have a guide to help.
Here are 15 secret things about carrying twins that moms don't talk about.
15 Early Signal
Most moms won't know they are pregnant with twins until they go to the doctor and have an ultrasound. After all, they can't exactly get a peek inside and know that there is more than one baby. But there are some early signals that there are more babies on board than expected. Most are pretty subtle, but it can even show on the pregnancy test.
That's because the more babies, the bigger the rush of hormones at the very beginning of the pregnancy — we're talking about right after the conception, when the hormone levels double. Those hormones are what show up on pregnancy tests, so by the time most women take a pregnancy test — around the time that they miss their first period — the line shows up pretty strongly. Many women have to look for a faint pink line on that test, but if there are twins, the line won't be so hard to detect.
14 Double the Exhaustion
When the body is concentrating on forming a baby, there isn't much energy left for anything else. That leaves just about every mom-to-be in her first trimester longing to take a nap to help her get through the day. But with double the babies, moms experience double the exhaustion. The body is working hard to increase the blood flow even further, to make more than one placenta in most cases and of course to form 20 fingers and 20 toes and double all the other organs that make up a baby.
It's hard to imagine the fatigue that can happen for a twin mom. They want to get in bed as soon as they get home from work, and weekends are definitely defined by nap time. Of course, keeping up with twins after birth is also exhausting, so it's fitting that the beginning of the pregnancy is just as tiring. Twin moms may feel tired throughout the pregnancy, but most feel better in the second trimester, thank goodness.
13 People Delve Into Your Fertility
As private as people are about their own business, they have no problem delving into the lives of moms-to-be. All pregnant women face some inscrutable comments about their weight gain and sex life, but for moms of twins, their fertility is almost always questioned, even by strangers. There are more cases of twins these days, and fertility treatments is a large part of the increase in multiple births. But twins and even triplets still sometimes happen naturally.
Yet, as soon as people hear that a woman is having twins, they start to ask her how she got pregnant. When you ask about fertility, you are asking about very private, medical information. Who wants to admit that they have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian disease? Or that their husband had a low sperm count? And is it really anyone else's business? These questions can come out of nowhere and make a seemingly innocuous conversation very strained. It's not the most fun part of having twins.
12 Your Due Date Is Treated Differently
Most women can mark their due date on the calendar with a lot of certainty. While only 1 percent will give birth on that date, the majority of the moms have their baby either one week before or one week after the date, so it's a pretty good approximation as to when the baby will arrive. But for a twin pregnancy, the due date is just a day on the calendar — maybe the day the baby could come home from the hospital, but it's not at all likely to be the day or even the month of arrival.
A mom of twins is six times more likely to deliver before her due date than a singleton mom. In fact, most doctors consider twins to be full term when they get to 37 weeks. Some moms make it past that point, and that just means that their babies have more time for the lungs to develop and to grow. Delivering a month early certainly isn't unheard of for twins, and it is often perfectly healthy.
11 Bladder Basketball
All women have to worry about frequent urination when they are pregnant, but twin pregnancies mean twice the problems, and that is just as true when it comes to having to rush to the bathroom. The sudden urges in the beginning of the first trimester are related to the elevation of hormones, and that can be even more evident and come more quickly for moms of twins. And then later on, it's definitely a bigger issue when two babies start playing basketball with their mother's bladder.
The more room needed in a mom's belly for babies means the less room for her bladder. She'll start to feel the squeeze even earlier than singleton moms, sometimes facing major issues with bladder control in the second trimester, long before it's an issue for most. In the third trimester, she may have to rush to the bathroom even when her bladder is far from full. Luckily, for most moms the ability to hold it gets better after birth.
10 Eating For Three
Double the babies means double the eating, most people believe. But it's not actually true, and for many moms it can be really difficult to achieve the extra calories their babies do need. Doctors recommend that twin moms gain 35 to 50 pounds, which is about 10 pounds more than for a singleton, and that only amounts to about 300 more calories per day. Of course, the amount varies based on the weight of the mom prior to the pregnancy, but whether she was skinny at first or more overweight, many twin moms struggle to gain the weight that the doctors recommend.
At the beginning of the pregnancy, the huge surge in hormones for the babies gives twin moms incredibly powerful food aversions, even more than a regular pregnancy. And many twin moms suffer from even worse morning sickness. Later on in the pregnancy, the babies take up so much room in the abdomen that the mom feels full after only a few bites of food. That means she needs to eat small meals but a lot more often. For some, it can become a chore and the food doesn't even taste that good. It's not as much fun to eat for three as people expect.
9 Very Veiny
When a woman gets pregnant, her body takes on a lot more blood volume, so that it can be sure to have enough to take nutrition and oxygen to the baby through the placenta. But most of the time, there isn't much evidence of that from the outside. When there is more than one baby, though, there is even more blood — and there is a much greater chance that it will become very visible for all to see.
Twin moms are the most likely to suffer from varicose veins. That means that their blood vessels will swell to leave a spiderweb kind of pattern, most likely on their legs. It's enough to keep some moms from avoiding shorts and skirts, even though they are hot and sweaty. Sometimes, they aren't just ugly but also painful. And for some, the varicose veins don't go away after birth. Some women have to see a doctor later and go through treatments to reduce the veins.
8 Talking About Birth Is Not Fun
These days, a conversation about giving birth can come with a lot of pressure. There is a lot of information out there about natural delivery and many subscribe to the idea that giving birth naturally is not only achievable but the only way a woman can prove she is a good mother. Of course, that isn't true, but it means that women who are looking at a scheduled C-section can face a lot of landmines when they get into a conversation with a judgey mom about giving birth.
It is possible for moms who are pregnant with twins to give birth vaginally, and while many natural birth advocates latch onto that possibility, the truth is that it can be very dangerous. It's very likely for a baby to breech, and after the first is born, the second could flip to a breech position. Plus, there is an increased risk of cord prolapse and getting entangled in the cord. Most doctors recommend that twins are born via scheduled C-section, and moms don't really want to hear anyone else's opinion when it comes to the health of their babies.
7 Feeling The Burn
The more babies, the more the stomach is pushed up in the abdomen, and that can mean terribly painful heartburn. Indigestion can be an issue in any pregnancy, and many women end up suffering, especially in the third trimester. But with twin pregnancies, the heartburn can get to the point where it makes it hard to eat anything, much less get any rest at night.
A mom may be craving spicy foods or fried foods, but she better skip them to avoid making things worse. And tomato sauce and orange juice are out of the question. But with the extra relaxin hormones, it's impossible to keep the heartburn at bay. It gets harder to tolerate eating big meals, yet twin moms need to continue to consume enough calories to keep her babies growing. Bedtime can be torture, so many twin moms have to prop themselves up at night to get any rest. They really feel the burn.
6 Double Oven
Ever wonder why people say a pregnant woman has a bun in the oven? It's because it really feels like the mom is cooking a baby. Her body temperature even rises a little bit when she is pregnant and her body's metabolism changes. With extra blood in her body, a woman often feels hot and uncomfortable when she is pregnant — and when there are two buns in the oven, the temperature goes from uncomfortable to alarming.
Poor twin moms end up feeling like they are going through an endless summer even when there is snow on the ground. They have to endure astoundingly high temperatures no matter the season, and when it actually is summer, the heat can become absolutely unbearable. The situation is usually pretty sweaty and miserable whenever the temperature rises above 70. Things can definitely get hot when you are living in a double oven all the time.
5 Bowling Ball Babies
Having a baby can definitely take a toll on the pelvis. The baby spends nine months in the abdomen, and most of them they are suspended somewhere in the ribcage. But by the third trimester, the baby takes up so much space that it can make it difficult to walk across the room. Adding another baby to the bunch can add even more pressure to the pelvis and bring out the waddle in the best of them.
Having a couple of bowling balls sitting in the middle of a woman's body can be absolute torture. Many moms do all that they can to position their bodies so that there is less pressure when she sits and when she stands. Of course, at some point, she absolutely has to walk around, and the worst part is the way it can feel like the cervix is barely keeping the babies in check. Twin moms definitely walk like ducks because they have two bowling ball babies that make it impossible to take it all in stride.
4 Extra Sweet
Most moms love that pregnancy gives them a license to eat desert at every meal. They have to add some calories, so why not have cake every night? There's no reason to say no to donuts for breakfast and a milkshake with her hamburger at lunch. And eating for three means a mom has even more reason to indulge. But unfortunately, twin pregnancies aren't always so easy.
Women are more likely to get gestational diabetes when they are pregnant with twins. That means their pancreas can't keep up with their body, and they have to check their blood sugar multiple times a day. Some women can control the problem with diet, but that means cutting out the sugary things that they want to gorge on during pregnancy. Others need to take medication or even give themselves shots. It definitely puts a crimp in the pregnancy, but it's something that a lot of twin moms have to deal with.
3 Pressure Is On
Dealing with all that added weight and stress in the third trimester is difficult for any mom-to-be. But twin moms have extra reasons to worry and even more to lug around, and plus their bodies go through so much more. The pressure is truly on for twin moms, and unfortunately that means that there is an increased risk of high blood pressure or the pregnancy complication preeclampsia that can first be spotted by a dramatic rise in blood pressure.
Many twin moms end up having to go on bed rest toward their end of their pregnancies because their blood pressure can start to rise. They may be able to stay at home and move around a little bit, or they could be confined to a bed in a hospital for weeks. They may also have to go on magnesium to try to keep the pressure down long enough to allow the babies to grow a little more. When preeclampsia strikes, though, the only cure is to deliver the babies. That is one reason that twins are so likely to be born before their actual due date and why there are so many risks. It's a scary reality for many twin moms.
2 Major Moodiness
We've mentioned a few times that twin moms don't just get two babies during a pregnancy. They also have more blood and even more hormones. It's like everything is multiplied by two — and that includes the mood swings. Those hormones make singleton moms more than a little emotional. They can become enraged at their husband one moment and overwhelmingly emotional when they see a sweet commercial the next minute. Just imagine doubling that, and that is the life of a twin mom-to-be.
There are lots of ups and downs in pregnancy, and when there are multiple babies, there are more things that can go wrong and more anxiety about everything from premature labor to the finances of raising two kids. Of course, there is also twice the joy at bringing two new babies into the world. It's no surprise that twin pregnancies come with major mood swings — but living it is a roller coaster that no woman can imagine until they have experienced it.
1 Multiple Risks
Having a baby is fraught with risks — having two babies means a lot more risks and possible problems. That includes a lot of the things that we've mentioned here about preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm labor, but some other issues as well. Low birth weight can be a problem, as can restricted growth. With twins who share the same sac and placenta, there are very real risks of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and the babies could get wrapped up in each other's cords.
There are risks that one or both of the babies could be lost in the first trimester and those risks persist throughout the pregnancy. After the birth, at least one baby could suffer issues from cerebral palsy and mental retardation to vision and hearing issues. The mom's body is also in danger, and the entire pregnancy can be filled with anxiety. With great risks come big rewards, though, and having twins is definitely a great reward. Congrats to all the twin moms-to-be.
Sources: WebMD, The Bump, Baby Center, American Pregnancy
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