Twin pregnancy is not like a singleton pregnancy. Women pregnant with twins will have different dietary needs, as well as increased risks for conditions such as preterm labor. The best way to a healthy twin pregnancy is to educate yourself on the various issues and get the best prenatal care for a twin pregnancy possible.
Dietary Needs for Twin Pregnancy
Instead of one baby who needs nourishment, you have two babies. That doesn’t mean you eat double (sorry!), but it does mean you need more calories. The standard given by most doctors is “just add 300 calories.” If your doctor has this lackadaisical approach, switch doctors!
It is much more complex than that. Women pregnant with twins should not get overly concerned about weight gain. It is not unusual for a woman pregnant with twins or higher numbered multiples to gain a lot of weight. This isn’t all in your thighs (although it might seem like it), but with twins you gain far more blood and fluid volume.
A woman pregnant with twins needs to pay close attention to getting enough protein, and the requirements can be hard to achieve. Look for protein-rich foods that double for other nutrients, such as cheeses for a calcium boost, or beef for an iron boost.
Prenatal Care for Twin Pregnancy
The most important thing to consider when you’re pregnant with twins is getting the best prenatal care possible. You want to find a doctor who will treat twin pregnancy as they should: different from singleton pregnancies. Your doctor should sound concerned about the various issues, such as nutrition and preterm risks.
Odds are good you will already have a doctor selected before you find out twins are on the way. Don’t be afraid to change doctors as soon as you find out if your gut tells you the doctor isn’t skilled in handling a twin pregnancy.
Ask questions about how many twins the doctor has delivered (or any other doctors in the practice if there is a delivery rotation). Ask about issues such as which situations the doctor is willing to deliver twins (head-down only, for instance), and which situations the doctor will push for a C-section.
You might also consider going to a doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancies. The co-pay for visits typically is more, but it could be well worth it and even save thousands in the long run if you avoid a long NICU stay.
Choosing a Hospital for Twin Birth
Twins are typically born early, and rarely gestate for the entire 40 weeks. That means you should be prepared for a NICU stay.
You will want to research your local hospitals to find out what care they provide for NICU babies. Ideally, you will want a hospital with a Level III NICU for your delivery.
Special Risks of Twin Pregnancy
Twin pregnancy carries increased risk of several conditions, ranging from a higher likelihood of developing gestational diabetes.
You are also more likely to have preterm labor, and should keep a close eye on any warning signs. If you are having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, for instance, press your doctor about whether you need to go on bed rest. There are also innovative treatments now, such as progesterone injections, to help prevent preterm labor.
Books on Twin Pregnancy
I highly recommend stocking up on at least a couple books specific to twin pregnancy, and not just the books regarding pregnancy in general. Here are my favorites:
- When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, Revised Edition: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy – This is the ultimate guide to having a healthy twin pregnancy, and it is easily the best book on twin pregnancy nutrition.
- Everything You Need to Know to Have a Healthy Twin Pregnancy - This book really covers the health issues of twin pregnancy thoroughly, from working with your doctor to coping with preterm labor.
- Twinspiration: Real-Life? Advice From Pregnancy Through the First Year (for Parents of Twins and Multiples) - This book is good if you want a book that goes beyond the pregnancy and birth with some tips on surviving the early time with twins at home.