7 things you need to know about twins and pregnancy

If you're pregnant and expecting twins, here are some facts you should know from a mom who has been there.

By Wendy McMahon

7 things you need to know about twins and pregnancy
©iStockphoto.com/trait2lumiere

When the technician doing my ultrasound told my husband and I that we were having twins, we laughed hysterically, not because we were overjoyed, but because we were in shock.

Where would we find the money, time and energy to care for two babies? Would there be complications with the pregnancy?

Kimberley Weatherall, executive director of Multiple Births Canada, shares seven of the most common concerns mothers have when they discover they are pregnant with twins.

1. What kind of medical care is available?
Depending on where you live in Canada, moms expecting twins may be able to seek care from health practitioners who specialize in pregnancies involving multiple births, says Weatherall. For example, women in Toronto can take advantage of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre's specialized clinic for multiple births – the first of its kind in Canada.

"With the Internet and access to all of its resources, people are learning more, asking more informed questions and looking for prenatal care faster. And there is a higher expectation of what they'll get," explains Weatherall.

2. Where can I get answers to the bazillion questions I have?
"The best way to learn anything is through another parent of multiples who has already gone through it," says Weatherall.

Talking to other moms will save your sanity by arming you with knowledge, tips and tricks that will help you to dealwith the days ahead. The more I learned about twins and pregnancy, the more I could relax and enjoy the ride. The best way to find other moms of twins in your area is by joining your local chapter of Multiple Births Canada or the Parents of Multiple Births Association (POMBA).

I was a bit of a keener and also asked friends to help me connect with any parents of twins that they knew. We connected through Facebook and I was able to set up a mini network of moms who gave me advice on everything from breastfeeding to the best twin strollers. (Need some more tips? Here's our guide to helping you raise twins.)

3. Will the morning sickness be worse with twins?
While some women don't have morning sickness at all, some do. Unfortunately for me, the one thing Kate Middleton and I have in common is hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) otherwise known as stay-in-bed-all-day-can't-function-nearing-dehydration sickness. If you have HG or a milder form of morning sickness, don't be a hero – seek help. The nausea can be managed with changes to your diet and, if necessary, the help of several safe medications. Talk to your doctor and a nutritionist or dietician as soon as possible to get help. (If you have mild morning sickness, here are 7 remedies for morning sickness. ) 

4. Will I have preterm labour?
According to Multiple Births Canada, preterm labour is one of the most common concerns in twin pregnancies. About half of the twins born in Canada are delivered earlier than 37 weeks. Signs of preterm labour include menstrual-like cramps, low and dull backache, pressure, abdominal cramping, increase or change in discharge, leaking fluid, feeling badly and uterine contractions – even if they are painless. Know the signs and go to the hospital if you experience preterm labour.

5. Where can I find help?
During your pregnancy and when the babies arrive you're going to need help. Have a plan in place before things get too hectic. Call on friends and family members as much as possible to help with caring for older children, preparing meals or even simply folding a pile of laundry.

We arranged for my mom and my mother-in-law to take turns staying with us while I was sick during my pregnancy and for a few weeks after the boys arrived. We also enrolled our daughter in preschool to give her a chance to get out and socialize during those early days.

6. Can we afford twins?

The financial strain of two babies can be a major concern for many parents expecting twins, especially if you factor in the cost of diapers, wipes, bottles and formula for two. Weatherall recommends that parents create a plan as soon as possible.

"Start planning as much as you can before the babies arrive," says Weatherall. "Start saving money, start paying things off, go see a financial planner, especially if one of the parents is going to stay home for any length of time."  (Check out our do you need a new financial advisor story to see if it's time to switch!)

It also helps to borrow or buy what you need secondhand. We bought almost everything we needed for our twin boys through Kijiji and our local POMBA clothing and toy sale. Friends also threw us a diaper party where everyone brought a box of diapers rather than gifts for the boys, saving us hundreds of dollars.

7. Can I do this?
Yes! You can grow two babies at the same time (I personally believe this grants you superhero status). You can love and care for two babies at the same time, and you can also love and care for their sibling(s) if they have any. You will make it through the sleepless nights and eventually you will find your groove. So look forward to the days when people will ask, "How do you do it?" Then you can just smile and let your superhero cape fly.

You've armed yourself with a new stroller, baby toys, boxes of clothing and a tower of diapers as high as a skyscraper - but how about food for your little one? If you want to give your baby the best of the best, check out our guide on how to make your own baby food.

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