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Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

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Having more than one baby

Multiple births now occur about once in every 41 births.

Having two or more babies has become more common. This is mainly due to an increase in the number of mothers older than age 35 and the use of fertility drugs and other techniques to assist getting pregnant.

If you are having more than one baby, you will see your health care provider more often. You may also have more ultrasounds and other tests to monitor your babies' health. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about any questions or concerns you have about your pregnancy or these tests.

Carrying more than one baby means you will need to take very good care of yourself. Here are some suggestions:

  • Eat well. It is important that you eat nutrient-rich foods because you will need to grow two or more babies and keep yourself healthy. Focus on eating foods high in protein, calcium, and iron. If you are having trouble eating well, ask for a consultation with a nutritionist.
  • Gain extra weight. The recommended weight gain is often 35 to 45 pounds. Your health care provider will tell you how much weight gain is best for you. Because your babies may be born early, it is important to start gaining weight as early as possible. The nausea of early pregnancy usually decreases by the beginning of the second trimester.
  • Rest every day. Growing two or more babies takes a lot of energy. It is good to plan a nap or rest period each day.
  • Cut back on daily activities. Limit other demands so you can save your energy for growing your babies. Figure out how to share housekeeping duties. This will help you now and after your babies are born.
  • Accept help. Let others do chores and shopping. That will give you more time to rest and do what is most important to you.
  • Check with your health care provider about relieving pregnancy discomforts. Because of the strain of carrying two or more babies, you are likely to have more pregnancy discomforts and to have them sooner than mothers growing only one baby. Check with your health care provider before taking over-the-counter medicines or home remedies.
  • Talk to other parents of multiples. Get tips and support from other parents of twins or multiples.
  • Prepare for limits in the third trimester. You may have to greatly limit your activities in the third trimester. Talk with your health care provider about what may be recommended. Find out ahead of time how that will affect your work and what your insurance will cover. Plan ahead for more care for your older child or children. Your health care provider may limit you to bedrest at some point during your pregnancy.
  • Plan for a birth at 37 weeks. Multiples are often born at 37 weeks rather than 40. Take your childbirth preparation classes during the second trimester.
  • Get help for after your babies are born. It is exhausting taking care of more than one newborn. Arrange for help with household chores and meals in the early weeks so you can focus on your babies. Friends, neighbors and members of your religious community may be happy to pitch in. You can take advantage of the celebrity factor of having more than one baby.

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 08/22/2011

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts