Editor’s Note: Jennifer Fountain is the founder of Growing Up Triplets and is a regular contributor to other blogs, including Breastfeeding Place. She writes about raising their two-year-old-triplets, taking the family back to living simply, and endeavoring to honor God in the midst of it all. She has been married to her hubby, David, for four years and is madly in love with him! You can follow Jennifer and the three peas on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the blog.
You just received the news of your life – you’re carrying more than one baby! Whether it’s twins, triplets (my case!), quads, quints, or more, there are ways to pursue a healthy pregnancy with multiples.
When I first found out we were having triplets, my shock overwhelmed me. Plans for a homebirth seemed impossible and I could only envision myself as a hormonal mess with screaming babies surrounding me. As the shock wore off, I began to think a bit more realistically…and did a ton of research. With every year that goes by, there is more and more information geared towards pregnancies with multiples (especially Higher-Order Multiples) and even breastfeeding!
Of course, there is never any guarantee with any pregnancy. Ultimately, we must choose to trust our kind and all-wise heavenly Father with how our pregnancy progresses. But there is wisdom in doing the things we can in order to keep our babies “cooking” for as long as possible.
7 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Multiples
Find a Doctor – Most multiples pregnancies are transferred to doctors who specialize in this arena…and for good reason! Many pregnancies with two or more babies end up delivering pre-term and it is such a blessing to have a doctor who can anticipate problems or concerns.
You may also end up seeing two types of doctors during your pregnancy – an OB/GYN specialist and a perinatologist. Perinatologists specialize in maternal fetal medicine (MFM).
My goal was to deliver at home, but when we found out there were three babies, my midwife was unable to continue caring for me. I transferred to a wonderful OB group and an MFM practice we fell in love with! I explained my desire to deliver naturally – vaginally and without medical intervention – if at all possible. Both doctors were working towards that end with me!
Nutrient-dense Diet – A healthy, nutritious diet is helpful in any pregnancy but it’s crucial in a pregnancy with multiples. Everything you put in your mouth is divided between the babies in your belly…and you! That’s going to mean eating a lot of nutrients!
An adult woman usually falls in the 1,800-2,200 range for calorie intake per day. When pregnant, the caloric intake increases by 300 calories per fetus! I fell into the category of about 2100 calories per day. I’ll let you do the math for my total while pregnant with three! In the meat department, that ends up being nearly a pound of meat per day! While many people comment about how they wish they could have the freedom to eat that many calories, it can actually be rather challenging to shovel that many calories in – especially when someone is dancing on your stomach or you experience nausea through the majority of your pregnancy. And it can be quite daunting when you realize that the health of your babies can be directly affected by what you eat.
The goal is, obviously, to eat nutrient-dense foods and to focus on what packs the most punch. This post goes into great detail about some ways to eat the foods a pregnancy with multiples will require.
Exercise Wisely – Generally the recommendation is to not do more than you would have done prior to getting pregnant. For a mama pregnant with multiples, you will want to discuss your plans to exercise with your doctor(s) so they can keep an eye on how it may be affecting you. A premature shortening of the cervix (and thus pre-term labor), can often be avoided by reducing the amount of physical stress you place on your body.
Exercise also burns calories. If you’re finding it difficult to eat an adequate number of calories for you and your babies, you may want to hold off on exercising just yet.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to sit on your bum all day (unless your doctor has you on strict bed rest, that is!). You’ll also need to maintain your strength for the labor and delivery and caring for multiple babies! Talk with your doctor about exercises that you can do that won’t be too stressful on your body – like yoga and some (very) light weight lifting.
Rest Well – Your body uses sleep to recuperate, rejuvenate, to heal! Imagine how much more important that will be as your body works double, triple, or more!, overtime to create new little persons! Never feel embarrassed for sleeping, napping, or resting: you’re growing multiple people! And this alone can be cause for extreme fatigue and exhaustion.
Taking advantage of rest and sleep may also be a wise idea since, as the pregnancy progresses, sleep can be hard to come by.
Communicate Your Feelings – Finding out you’re carrying more than one baby can be such a shock. Some women may grieve the things they might’ve experienced with a singleton pregnancy – I did! It was so odd to feel so sad when God had given me such an enormous blessing. But I struggled with feelings that were so deep and challenging…and then guilt for struggling with those feelings! I was so blessed to have had a wonderful support system in place. My husband, church family, family, and friends were all so supportive and encouraging to me.
I also encourage moms of multiples to reach out to other moms of multiples during their pregnancy (and after!). We were never meant to walk this life alone, and carrying multiples brings unique challenges and joys that other MoMs will specifically be able to understand. You can find a community online or in your town.
Weaning a Toddler – Typically, breastfeeding a baby or toddler while pregnant isn’t a concern. And typically, I’d be super excited for a woman to continue the breastfeeding relationship while pregnant (and beyond!). However, breastfeeding while pregnant can send some women into pre-term labor – and this is often a huge concern for a pregnancy with multiples. Talk with your doctor(s) about this and know that if weaning seems wisest for you, that you have other options for your nursling besides commercial formula!
Traditional Medicine – Making use of homeopathic remedies, chiropractic, essential oils, etc. is a wise idea. Many women find symptoms, even in a pregnancy with multiples, are reduced by utilizing these centuries-old, science-based methods. Morning sickness, back labor, breech positions, heartburn, and many other symptoms can often be treated or diminish greatly. Be sure to discuss with your doctor or midwife any regimen you begin since they take great care to treat the pregnancy as a whole picture.
Finding out you’re pregnant with multiples is a rare blessing! Sometimes it comes with complications, but more and more women are finding that with knowledge, wisdom, and caution, they are able to deliver naturally and complication-free!
Of course, I’ve just scratched the surface on how to have a healthy pregnancy with multiples! You may find these resources helpful to you on your journey:
- When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke
- Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada
Are you pregnant with multiples? What concerns do you have?