Advice for Pregnant MoMs

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You’ve just found out you are pregnant… and with twins! Congratulations! So many thoughts must be racing through your head. Are there really TWO of them in there? How did this happen? What does this mean? Can I still have a natural birth? What if they come early? Do we need to get a bigger car, bigger house? How are we going to PAY for TWO babies at once?

OMG what are we going to do?!?!?

Relax. You are in good company. We’ve all been through it, that’s why we are blogging about it now. It’s been a tough road for many of us, but hey who said raising kids was going to be easy?

If you are new parents, you will be evenly matched. If you already have an older child… well… better prepare your house for battle because YOU WILL BE OUTNUMBERED!

Here’s what you can do.

  1. Arm Yourself With Knowledge

    Read up on books which will help you prepare for twin mommy-hood. You could buy them from your local bookstore or online, borrow from a friend, get them second hand or borrow from the library. Our local library has an online book reservation system which made it really handy to place books on hold. You get notified when the books are in and they store them on a special bookshelf near the entrance which makes it quick and easy to pick up. Plus you can renew books online. All you need is a library card, which is almost always free!

    Some of the books that a very thoughtful friend gave as a gift:
    Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins: A Step-by-Step Program for Sleep-Training Your Multiples by Marc Weissbluth, MD
    Ready or Not series on raising twins by Elizabeth Lyons

    Not-twin related but still very helpful books I borrowed from the library:
    What to Expect When You’re Expecting – with a special section on multiples (free on Kindle Unlimited)
    Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg
    The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine
    Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on baby furniture, gear, clothes, strollers, maternity wear and much, much more! by Denise & Alan Fields

  2. Register for Bootcamp

    Find a prenatal class offered in your area either by your municipality/county, hospital or local Multiple Births Association.

    We took a combination of classes. First, we signed up for a local prenatal classes which at the time were a series of evening classes led by a Registered Nurse (RN) from the Public Health department. Now unfortunately those courses are only offered online with an optional one day workshop at the local library.

    Once we found out we were having twins, we then signed up for the Multiple Births Families Association (www.MBFA.ca) “Multiple Expectations” prenatal course where we met other families in the same boat.

    Finally, I signed up for a special Breastfeeding Multiples session at the local Hospital to get some “hands-on” training with dolls. It sounds funny but you will need the practice. It’s less nerve wracking to position 2 dolls and not worry about dropping them than a pair of REAL babies!

  3. Make Allies

    Start building your network with some of the couples you met at these prenatal courses. Join your local Multiple Births Association to meet other families. If you live in Canada, check the Multiple Births Canada website to find a chapter near you. It’s worth the annual membership fee, especially for the first couple of years.

    Again, it may sound funny to some (“They have a twins club for you guys?”) but trust me, if you meet another twin mommy with multiples close to your age, you will want to exchange numbers and stay in touch! Many of these clubs also hold events like: summer picnics; holiday parties; meet and greets; and playdates.

    You can also join online communities such as right here on HDYDI to connect with other moms, either though Facebook groups (like ours or the official group for Multiples of America – formerly NOMOTC) or blogging websites. Great way to connect with MOMs across North America!

    Another great resource we have here in our city is Breastfeeding Buddies. It’s another program offered by the City of Ottawa’s Public Health department for new moms with babies under 6 months old where they pair you up with another mom who has successfully nursed her baby or babies. I was grateful to get a phone call every few days from my BF Buddy to ask how things were going and encourage me along. If it wasn’t for her, I would have given up well before my twins weaned themselves off around 9 months.

    Yes, this person is a stranger to you but sometimes you can be more candid speaking with someone you don’t know very well. Plus, these ladies are screened and trained by a Ottawa Public Health nurse on being discreet. They are there to offer advice, not pass judgement. Check your county’s Public Health department website for a similar program.

  4. Select Your Gear

    Many people, when having their first child, will buy things brand new or get items as gifts from families and friends. That is not always practical when you are preparing for multiples.

    So in addition to joining your local Multiple Births chapter for the events, attend their Mom-to-Mom consignment sales. At our local ‘Twice As Nice’ sale, we have scored new or nearly new snowsuits and winter boots, not to mention toys, nursery essentials and big ticket items like high chairs and toddler bed frames. For more details on what these “Twins Sales” are about and why they are so popular, check out details on our local sale website here.

    Before you go, make a list of what you need so you don’t get carried away with buying too much or too little. Luckily, you DON’T need two of everything.

  5. Stockpile Supplies for Survival

    The biggest expenses for babies in the first year are diapers and formula. Now is a great time to start stocking up on those essentials.

    You will be needing diapers until your babies are at least 2.5 years old. When shopping for diapers, it’s handy to do a quick calculation on the cost per diaper to know whether you are being ripped off or not. Each diaper can cost between 16 to 40 cents.

    If you are using formula, you may want to wait until you figure out what your baby can handle. Not every formula is the same. We found the liquid Similac which the hospital gave us was easily digested but the more inexpensive powder form was hard on them and causing constipation.

    So we switched to the iron-fortified President’s Choice* baby formula from our local grocery store which often came on sale for $12.99-$15.99 for a big tin. (regular price at the time was $19.99, compared with $32.99 for other leading brands) A second brand we found worked well was Heinz. Find a brand and stick to it.

    Since we were doing both breastmilk and formula, we went through one tin a week for the first few months. Then 1 tin every 4 days until our twins were able to take cow’s milk at one year old.

    *President’s Choice label is only available in Canada at our grocery food chain, Loblaws. Their products (including affordable gourmet food items) are worth the trip up north!

  6. Line Up The Troops

    Make note of all the well wishers in your life that offer help, whether they be neighbours, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, or co-workers. If you are like me and have a hard time asking for or taking help, pray that your family and friends know you well enough to know when you need it. We are fortunate enough to have both sets of parents in town, helpful aunts and uncles, friends and neighbours. They all came over on a regular basis (daily or weekly) to help out in some way whether it was taking over the kitchen, folding laundry, bringing over food, and of course caring for the babies.

    Have a short list of people you can reach out to by phone. These are well wishes who want to be there for you but can’t physically due to distance and their own situations.

  7. Have a Gameplan

    Manage your expectations and logistics of what’s going to happen when the babies’ arrive. Is your house going to be a disaster or will you work yourself to the bone trying to keep it clean? Can you afford to get outside help for a short time to help maintain it?

    Will you allow visitors in the hospital and in the early days at home? If so, ask them to bring lunch, or grocery essentials like milk and eggs. Tell them to expect you to open the door in your pyjamas. Let them hold the babies while you go take a shower or a nap.

    Are the babies going to sleep in your bed, your room or in the nursery? In one crib or two? Upstairs or downstairs? (depending on whether mom can climb stairs in the early days)

    Is hubby going to stay home for a few days, weeks or months? Will you invite your folks to move in with you for a short while? When will you go back to work? Will you go back to work?

    If you are nursing, will you hire a lactation consultant to help you? Will you consent to a wellbaby visit by a Public Health Nurse, if this service is offered in your area? Read a previous post I wrote on how to survive the first three months with newborn twins.

Pregnant with twins? Relax. It's going to be great. from hdydi.comHopefully these tips and suggestions will help you organize your thoughts and figure out how to prepare for your upcoming bundles of joy. Most of all, DON’T PANIC! Soon, you will find yourself saying you “wouldn’t have it any other way”.

Ambereen lives in Canada with her husband and Boy/Girl twins. They survived the first 3 years of raising twins and lived to blog about it. Check out her blog at www.2cute.intiaz.com or tweet her at @2cuteblog.

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Prenatal Care for Twins

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Categories Health, Medical, Pregnancy, Theme WeekTags , , , 1 Comment

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


I will start out by saying that I have never been pregnant before now. This is my first pregnancy and I have been thrown in head first with this new world of twins. So my experience is different. I didn’t know what to expect when going into it all. I had other friends that had been pregnant with singletons, and so I wasn’t completely naive, but I also really learned as I went. So, here is my experience with various aspects of prenatal care for our twins.

Prenatal Vitamins

I had wanted to be pregnant for a while, so I started taking prenatal vitamins very early on (well over a year before actually getting pregnant). I knew that the benefits were only going to help me, so I had no problem taking them long before we actually started trying for our baby. I have quite the sweet tooth, so I took the gummy prenatals with extra folic acid- two before bed- and it was quite the delicious pre-bed treat. Because I am also lactose intolerant, I also took a calcium supplement (gummy version) and a multivitamin (also gummy). After about a month of 6 gummies all right before bed, I started spacing them out a bit more and went with 1 of each vitamin at lunch and 1 of each before bed.

It ended up being a very good thing that I started this so early, because once I got pregnant, I had major trouble stomaching any vitamin supplements at all. I literally couldn’t do it. I felt so guilty to be denying my babies these added nutrients, and I talked to my doctors and nurses quite often about this. Thankfully, they said that I had done the right thing by starting so early, because my body had a built-up supply of the nutrients, and my babies would still benefit, even if I couldn’t take them every day.

Once the 2nd trimester hit and I started to get over the morning all-day sickness, I got some Flintstone vitamins, upon the suggestion of my doctors. I actually could take these just fine (2 at night before bed), and I felt like I could do something again for my babies. This didn’t last, however, and once I got to about 28 weeks, I had trouble with the nausea again, and I had to stop taking them. Thankfully, my pregnancy diet (and cravings) included lots of fruits and veggies and protein, so I knew that I was doing what I could. Plus, the babies were growing really well and the doctors were happy.

Moral of the story: start taking your prenatals EARLY, but listen to your body. It doesn’t help you to get sick after every vitamin, when it may be better to rely on those better vitamin-rich foods instead. And no matter what, talk to your doctor. I felt guilty each time they asked about prenatal vitamins, and I had to say that I wasn’t taking them. Then, they would respond that it was ok. I was doing well, and I shouldn’t worry. Oh, I love getting support like that from a doctor!

The First Appointment

Thankfully, I knew what to expect at my first appointment, so this wasn’t a surprise, but I can understand that some may have been taken aback if they weren’t prepared.

Because we had been seeing a doctor for a short time leading up to getting pregnant, my appointments were on the fast track. Please don’t worry if you don’t have all of these appointments right away.

I took a pregnancy test on April 5, when I was only 3 weeks 5 days pregnant. When it came back positive, I called my doctor immediately and he scheduled me to get a blood test done that day (a Friday). We went in the moment they opened the doors and I happily gave them my arm to draw the vial (and I hate getting blood drawn). They told me that they would fax the doctor the results in about an hour.

An hour passed, and we didn’t hear anything. Because it was a Friday, I knew our doctor would be closing early (a half day), so I didn’t want to have to wait to find out if we were going to be parents. I called and spoke to the secretary (whom I had become really close with due to our visits), and she was able to tell us the great news: it was positive! I asked about the HCG levels, and they were a good steady number. We set up an ultrasound date for 3 weeks later, and I dreaded having to wait that long for the final confirmation and heartbeat.

Finally, the big day arrived (6 weeks 3 days), and my husband and I nervously went in to the office. I got undressed (waist down) as I knew that they would be needing to do an internal ultrasound. This is because the baby/babies are too small at this point to be seen using the stomach ultrasound. They need to get closer, which is why they have to make it internal. If you aren’t prepared for this, I can understand how this would be scary and uncomfortable. Prepare yourself, though, because it really isn’t painful if you are ready for it. They insert a stick-like wand “up there” right against your cervix. There may be moments of being uncomfortable, but they really try to make it as pain-free and quick as possible. I promise that, once you actually see your baby/babies heartbeat(s), you will totally forget about anything else except this miracle that is happening to you.

People have asked us if we were surprised it was twins. In a short answer, yes. Although my doctor wasn’t. When we went in, I was joking with him in order to cover up my nerves. I was convinced that something had happened in the past 3 weeks and I had lost the baby. I didn’t have any proof to confirm this, but I just was worried. 3 weeks felt like a long time to wait in between the blood test and the ultrasound! So as we were joking, I told him that I hoped I was still pregnant. He told me that he knew I was, and it was just a question of how many. I asked him if he would buy us dinner if it was just one. He happily agreed (knowing through the HCG numbers that it would be two). Well, he was right, and we didn’t get a dinner from him. Oh well!

When he was looking at the ultrasound, he quickly (within seconds of any image on the screen) said, “Yes, there they are.” We were shocked. My jaw hit the floor. Thank goodness I was already sitting/laying down. The nurse turned to my husband a few times to ask if he needed to sit down, but he was frozen to his place. Two heartbeats. Two strong heartbeats. Twins.

At our office, we got lots of pictures and even a flash drive with all of the pictures and a video of the heartbeats. We went home to share the news with our parents via Skype (they already knew we were expecting, but they had no idea about the next doubly exciting chapter to this story).

Perinatal (“High Risk”) Appointments

When you are expecting multiples, you are categorized as a “high risk” pregnancy. Many people, upon hearing this, get scared or confused. To someone not facing these appointments themselves, they may wonder why it is “high risk.” After all, there are so many more twins born now. So is it really “high risk?” Yes, it is. Now, this is not to say that you will definitely have problems with your pregnancy. I didn’t have any complications after the first trimester.

Those of us blessed to carry multiple babies at once are considered high risk because bodies simply weren’t made to carry more than one baby at once. We can do it and be successful at it, but we do need to be carefully monitored.

Be prepared to see a perinatal specialist, a “high risk doctor.” They will focus on your babies’ needs throughout the pregnancy. For us, once we got in the groove of appointments, these were our ultrasound visits. We started by going once a month (plus a couple of additional appointments due to scheduling issues). They did a full tummy ultrasound (no more internal ultrasounds unless they had trouble seeing your cervix), where they would focus on measuring the size of the babies, the amniotic fluid amount, the length of my cervix, the cord and placenta placement/size, and check the vitals of the babies.

Then, once we hit the third trimester, we went in for a couple of appointments every 2 weeks. They still only did the measurements once a month, but they just wanted to check and see the babies a bit more often. They also wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into pre-term labor.

At 32 weeks, we started our weekly perinatal appointments. They scheduled the measurement ultrasound for every 4 weeks still (32 and 36 weeks), but I would be getting additional ultrasounds each week as well. During these, they would check the amount of amniotic fluid (to make sure it wasn’t leaking out). They would check the stomach cavity and diaphragm. They would also look at and measure the heartbeat and heart chambers. Finally, they would look to see that the babies were practicing breathing. Now, they don’t actually breathe when inside the womb, but they do pretend to do this. After 3 weeks of this, I realized that Baby Girl A would pass this part of the test with flying colors, as she would always show this. Baby Boy B, however, would get jostled a bit to wake up and show us something. I asked our doctor about this- should I prepare myself for issues after they are born with his breathing? She told us not to worry. They give themselves a window of 45 minutes per baby to watch for signs of breathing practice. If the baby hasn’t shown it in that 45 minute time, then we would worry. Baby Boy always took longer than his sister, but never more than 5-7 minutes, so there is nothing to fear. In addition, there are many other aspects that they look for during these ultrasounds, not just breathing. All of the results as a whole are much more important than just any one part.

Finally, in these weekly visits, they do the Non-Stress Test (NST). After the ultrasound (and they’ve figured out where the babies are), they hook you up to these monitor belts. They will put some jelly on these discs and place them on your stomach where each heart would be located. Once they find the heartbeat and can hear it clearly, they will attach the disc to an elastic belt, wrapped around your waist. Then, they find your second baby and do the same thing with another disc and belt. Finally, they will put an additional disc on the top of your uterus to measure contractions. You will be hooked up to this for 20 minutes.

During the NST, they are looking for changes in your babies’ heartbeats. They want to see them rise and fall, as the babies move around. If they don’t see much variation, they may do a few different things to get a reaction. First thing is they will ask you to drink some cold water. Cold liquids and foods often get those babies jumping. Jumping babies = rise in heartbeats. I also tried eating some apples that I brought with me, as that often got them moving and shaking. When that didn’t work, they brought in the buzzer. It is a mini airhorn of sorts that they put against your stomach. It vibrates and emits a buzzing sound. When they did it, both babies jumped and started kicking like crazy (and I started laughing because it was so funny to witness. Well, for me, they jumped but Baby Girl didn’t show a change in her heart rate. That’s when Daddy stepped in to the rescue. He came over to me and put his hand over Baby Girl. As she always does, she jumped to life at his touch. Then he started talking to her and coaxing her into getting excited. It finally worked, and both babies passed this test.

Regular OB Appointments

In addition to your perinatal appointments, you will still see your OB, who will actually do the delivery. If they are in the same practice, you may schedule these on the same day. For us, however, we didn’t have this luxury, so we had extra appointments. We made the decision that we would both go to all of the high-risk appointments, because that was when we could see our babies. My husband didn’t want to miss that! For the OB appointments, they focused on my care, and he really didn’t need to be there for them. He came to a few early on to meet our OB and discuss her thoughts on twins and twin deliveries. As I started going more often (and more quickly) to these visits, I gave him permission to save up his doctor time for the other appointments.

During the OB visits, they will take your weight (to make sure you are growing at a good rate) and blood pressure. They will also have you pee in a cup to check your protein levels (to check for signs of preeclampsia). Then you will go back and meet with your OB. She will ask about how you are doing. Sometimes you will get a cervix check (be prepared for this to be a little uncomfortable, as your lady parts are a bit more delicate when you are pregnant). She will also order blood tests and your gestational diabetes test.

Gestational Diabetes Test

I documented my experience (and nerves) about this test here. It really wasn’t bad, but I worked myself up to a bundle of nerves.

Dealing With It All

It all has to do with attitude. I loved going to the doctor so often, because it meant that they were really thorough in making sure that we were all okay. Because I had stopped working after the first trimester (I was a teacher and I finished the school year and didn’t return for the upcoming year), I could be flexible with my appointment times. I also didn’t mind if they took a while. Having this laid-back attitude definitely made a difference in what could have been a very stressful situation. I looked at my appointments as adventures. After all, I got to see and talk about my babies. I got to express fears or concerns and get to know what was going on in my body. I took advantage of the Do-you-have-any-questions? section of my visits. I stayed positive. I listened to their advice and did what they said to the best of my ability. I kept a smile on my face. It really helped.

We had one ultrasound tech that we kept getting that would rush through our ultrasounds. This meant that we got poor pictures and felt like we couldn’t appreciate the experience during those weeks. After the first time this happened, I left the office in tears. I just wanted to see my babies, and I hated that I had to wait another month to get the chance. Well, after a few times of this with her, I realized this was just her style. So, one day I went in and told her, “We aren’t in ANY rush today! I’m feeling great (a lie). It’s beautiful outside, and we don’t have anywhere to be! We are at 34 weeks, and who knows how many more of these appointments we will have left. So, feel free to take your time during this ultrasound!” It did the trick. She commented that she couldn’t take forever because they had a very hectic schedule during the rest of the day. BUT I noticed that she took a little longer on their faces, even though it wasn’t medically necessary. AND we finally got two more pictures of our beautiful babies (which we hadn’t gotten for a few weeks). We didn’t have to be rude or spiteful or call her out on her previous rudeness. Just a upbeat, passive comment was all it took to win her over and get what we wanted in return.

*Dory is currently pregnant with boy/girl twins. She blogs on her personal blog Doyle Dispatch. To read more posts about Dory’s pregnancy and nursery decorating on her blog, you can see the list here.*

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