By Beth Wilson
The chances of a pregnant woman having twins or a multiple birth
have never been higher. According to the National Center for Health
Statistics, about one in every 35 babies born is a multiple (twin,
triplet, or more). The incidence of twin has risen 52 percent since
1980 and the number of triplets has risen by more than 400 percent,
largely due to the fact that more women are having children later in
life and/or taking fertility drugs.
With these statistics in
mind, it's important for women having twins or multiple births to know
what to expect. "It's not your average pregnancy," explains Nancy
Bowers, an Atlanta mother of two twins and president of Marvelous
Multiples, an educational program and Website for expectant parents of
twins and other multiple births.
Carrying twins is a
"high-risk" pregnancy, which means there's a higher likelihood of
premature labor, high blood pressure, and c-section delivery. In
addition, many expectant mothers need hospitalization before their due
date. "Women need to understand what 'high risk' means," Bowers says.
"This doesn't mean it's a doomed pregnancy, but it does mean this
pregnancy is different." Working mothers should discuss the nature of
their pregnancy with employers. Ask if you can work from home, reduce
your traveling, and reduce your time standing on the job, she says.
addition to educating your employers, expectant mothers may need to
educate their partners. "Women do go through a significant change in
their body," says Joe Capezio, a Chicago-based
obstetrician/gynecologist who has delivered hundreds of sets of twins.
"It's important for the man (or partner) to understand what women go
Bowers recommends the couple attend initial doctor
appointments together. Both people need to hear that by 24 weeks the
expectant mother may need two naps daily, that she may gain 40 to 50
pounds, and that she may need to stay off her feet or be hospitalized
during the final weeks of her pregnancy. "They (partners) will have to
assume many different roles (such as cook and nurse) that they may not
be used to," she says.
Joining a twins club, expectant parent
group, or prenatal education class could also provide important
information and support. Following delivery, couples should enlist
assistance, be it paid help, family, or friends, because for the first
two to four weeks, according to Bowers, the mother has three
priorities: feeding herself, feeding her babies and sleeping. "She
should do nothing else in the house," she adds. The couple, however,
can share in celebrating. "It's pretty incredible," Capezio says of
delivering twins. "It's such a miracle when the babies are born, much
more so than a singleton."
For further information on twins or
multiple births contact the National Organization of Mothers of Twins
Club at The nomotc or Marvelous Multiples Websites.