Twin Pregnancy at Week 37 to Week 40
Babies' Growth in Utero
Most twins are considered full term during this month, because there’s just no more room for them to grow. Now it’s a judgment call as to whether to deliver closer to 37 weeks or 40 weeks. Doctors can’t seem to agree on whether twins should be delivered early if there are no unusual health issues.
The longer the twins stay in the uterus, the more fat and brain tissue they will acquire. Additional fat layers add immeasurably to the babies’ overall health and safety. Some doctors recommend earlier delivery for identical twins, but fraternal twins seem to benefit from additional womb time.
One important advantage of letting nature decide when you should deliver is that you will start lactating naturally. Some mothers who have scheduled C-sections at 37 weeks wait another two weeks for their milk to flow.
At delivery, twins typically weigh around six pounds each. If they are less than five pounds, they will need to use warming beds for a while.
Your uterus is getting ready for the birth, and it will generally stop expanding at 37 weeks. You will feel a sense of completion, and some pelvic pressure. It’s almost time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, so put your feet up and have another protein shake.
At the Obstetrician
If you are having a scheduled caesarean, your doctor will give you a date. She will definitely do a pelvic exam, focusing on your cervix and uterine palpation. The twins’ heartbeats will be rechecked.
Last Minute Shopping
It’s time to buy those last-minute items that you didn’t receive at your shower. Don’t forget to buy more batteries than you think you’ll need—many baby devices require them. Battery acquisition might be a good task to assign to a close friend.
You might want to recheck the list of baby basics provided in the article “Twin Pregnancy at Week 25 to Week 28.”
Most importantly, buy the best car seats that you can afford to hold your precious cargo. Here are some must-have car seat features:
• Buy new car seats. This cannot be emphasized enough. This is one item that should never be bought used.
• Read crash protection and safety reviews before buying.
• Convertible seats are the most versatile.
• Buy a rear-facing seat that can be used from birth until the children weigh 65 pounds or so.
• Obtain seats that every regular caregiver (including grandparents) can lift easily.
• Some seats are a lot larger than others. Obtain seats that will comfortably fit in your car.
• Seats that recline to facilitate sleep are recommended.
The permissibility of the elective cesarean is an outgrowth of patient rights. Women are now entirely free to choose their delivery method. There are still some stigmas attached to the elective C-Section option, but many physicians support a mother’s right to choose the proper route for herself and her family.
Some doctors will refuse if you request this option. However, he or she is obligated to refer you to a doctor who will comply with your choice. Twenty-five percent of all births are via cesarean, so you needn’t feel that you are requesting something out of the ordinary.
When is a C-section usually the best option?
• The placenta is blocking your cervix
• You have previously given birth in this manner
• When the birth canal is obstructed (e.g., the pelvis is broken)
• You are giving birth to more than one baby
• You have genital herpes
What will happen the day of your C-section?
• You will be given IV fluids and medication
• Your birthing partner will be present
• You will receive pain drugs, most commonly a spinal or an epidural. This is called a regional anesthetic, meaning that you are numbed from the waist down. Receiving regional pain meds eliminates the risks inherent with general anesthesia
• The incision will be laterally at your bikini line if possible, but with twins it may be vertical for ease of delivery
• Within moments of the incision, you will hear your babies’ first cries. What a wonderful sound!
• You will be monitored for another hour or so, then you can breast feed your babies for the first time
• Nurses will continue to monitor you more often than if you had given birth vaginally. The main concerns are bleeding and pain management
• Mild cramps, a small amount of bleeding and pain at the incision site are all expected aftereffects of a C-section
• Most likely, you and the twins can go home within three days
• You should be alert for any signs of excessive vaginal bleeding, fever or an unusual level of pain
• Avoid sex, vigorous movement, lifting, douching and tampons
After the Birth
Post partum moodiness, or the baby blues, which 80% of all women experience, tends to dissipate within a few days. Several influences cause this condition, one of them being sleep deprivation. The other is the roller coaster ride that your hormones are on. Symptoms include anxiousness, anxiety, crankiness and a bit of nausea.
So, your first post-birth prescription is to not expect unabated joy. You’ll be incredibly happy, and you should also expect to be very tired and somewhat blue.
If symptoms persist beyond a few days, then you may be in postpartum depression (PPD) territory. If you feel suicidal or unable to function, tell a loved one and see a doctor immediately.
Here is some other advice on what you might experience post-delivery. Many of the things on this list might be unexpected.
• Possessiveness about your baby, especially around extended family. And, it’s OK to say no to strangers who want to hold your twins
• Some loneliness—a new mother’s group will go a long way toward easing this feeling
• Loads of advice from all quarters
• Loads of laundry and dishes (if your husband works 9-5 or travels for work, try to get some sleepover help the first week or two)
• Phone calls and emails may overwhelm you—get hubby or designate a friend to deal with this job
• Irregular bowel function for a few weeks—prune juice can be a godsend
• Night sweats (hormones again)
• Changing standards for housekeeping—give yourself a break if you see piles of clutter that you just can’t get to
Twin Pregnancy at Week 33 to Week 36
Babies’ Changes in Utero
Your babies will weigh about five pounds each by the end of this month! Their current positions are fixed, unless there is medical intervention. With a bit of intensive care, they could survive outside the womb.
Their growth has all but stopped, because womb space is very limited now. However, you are still nourishing them through the umbilical cord and placenta. They need to add one more fat layer before birth.The twins’ lungs are busily manufacturing lipoproteins to assist their first breaths in the world.
• Expect your Braxton Hicks contractions to be occurring quite often. But if you have more than four per hour (even if they are mild), call your doctor. Frequent contractions may signal early labor.
• Appetite decreases and weight stabilizes, since twins have no more space to grow larger
• No space in abdomen to eat normal meals—intake smaller amounts of food and drink two gallons of water per day
• Feeling off balance, due to center of gravity shift, combined with backaches: step carefully, with assistance if needed, take warm (not hot) baths and/or use cold packs
• Shortness of breath: sit erect, rest frequently and don’t overdo it
• Extreme fatigue, due to progesterone levels, intense dreams, frequent urination, anxiousness and bulky body size impeding sleep: take naps, ideally in a recliner, invest in silk pajamas or sleep for ease of repositioning. Rest as much as is feasible in general.
• Constipation and hemorrhoids: drink as much water as you can hold, and eat according to your doctor’s recommendations.
• Swollen legs and feet, as much as a full size: go for short walks, and elevate your feet when you can.
At the Obstetrician
While some mothers will deliver in Weeks 33 to 36, it is in everyone’s best interest to carry your babies for a few more weeks. Your doctor will make sure that they are both positioned with their heads downward.
This visit will mainly consist of rechecking all of your vital signs. Your doctor will also determine if any of the following have occurred:
• Water breakage
• Thinning, shortening and softening of the cervix (effacement)
Pack for the Hospital
Since you may be delivering as early as the 37th week, now is the time to prepare your bags of supplies to make you more comfortable at the hospital. You’ll need two separate bags.
Prior to labor:
• Several copies of your birth plan
• Two light nightgowns, socks, robe and slippers
• Relaxation supplies: pillow, music, magazine, and anything else that will calm you
• Glasses (you probably won’t have time to put contacts in)
• Picture ID
• Insurance information
• Minimal toiletries (but do bring them, the hospital charges a fortune for them)
• Phone numbers of everyone you want to call, cell phone or prepaid telephone minutes
• Healthy snacks and nonalcoholic champagne
• Nursing bra and breast pads
• Comfy cotton underwear
• Baby book or journal
• Comfy shoes and clothes to bring baby home in!
What should be taught in a third trimester birthing class?
• True labor vs. Braxton Hicks
• Birth plan options
• Different types of delivery and positioning
• Postpartum depression and how to cope
• Methods of dealing with labor discomfort
• How to maintain your comfort in the last weeks of pregnancy
• Breastfeeding options
• Labor complications
• Recovery from the birth process
• Parenting 101
An ideal class should have no more than ten students, offer shorter sessions over a longer time period and be taught by a certified instructor. The website lilaguide.com contains class recommendations from parents in your local area.
The best ways to locate an appropriate birthing class are to ask your doctor, doula, friends, community centers and The International Childbirth Education Association. If you live in an isolated area, videos and books are a good secondary source of information.
There are four principal childbirth techniques, with Lamaze and Bradley being the most popular American methods.
The Mongan Method (HypnoBirthing) centers on self-hypnosis and parenting your child before birth. Lamaze stresses birth as a natural human function, offers women informed choices, builds up a pregnant mother’s self-confidence, teaches relaxation techniques, encourages positive life choices and is neutral on the issue of pain management.
Bradley couples are both integral to the process, and this method does not condone pain intervention. Bradley emphasizes a healthy lifestyle, relaxation, labor preparation, birth coach education and knowledge of emergency intervention.
Alexander stresses weekly practice in enhancing range of motion and strengthening of birth muscles. Alexander moms learn how to speed maternal recovery and maximize comfort during nursing.
About one month before the party, list everything required for cooking and serving the refreshments. Indicate which items will needed to be purchased, rented or borrowed, and make those arrangements now.
• Chairs and tables
• Hot plate
• Serving platters
Finalize your decoration ideas, which will depend on your overall theme. A twin theme, using Noah’s Ark is always fun. What is the tone of the party? Your decorations will need to be either restrained and tasteful, or ‘anything goes,’ depending on the theme and atmosphere desired.
One cute and easy idea is to string a clothesline across the party room with two of each type of clothing (bibs, onesies, etc.), depending on the boy-girl combination. If mom is expecting a boy and a girl, you could hang a little pair of overalls and a pinafore. Finish with two pairs of socks, booties, and so on.
Balloons come in all styles and types. You could use Mylar animal balloons, or stick with traditional blue, pink and white colors. Tie them to the mom-to-be’s chair.
Other ideas are:
• Baby blanket on the gift table
• Fresh flowers
• Themed tablecloth
• Handmade streamer signed by each family member
• Decorate a small real or artificial tabletop tree
Now, purchase your decorations. Assign potluck dishes to specific attendees. Order the cake now. Confirm venue reservations.
One or two weeks before, call invitees who haven’t returned their RSVP cards or emails. With your final guest list in hand, purchase remaining party supplies.
Print game instructions and wrap prizes. Print nametags or purchase blank ones. Order flowers. Arrange a party escort for the expectant mom.
Buy disposable cameras for guests to snap photos, and prepare your video camera and/or digital camera and supplies.
Twin Pregnancy at Week 29 to Week 32
Babies’ Growth in Utero
Congratulations! You’ve entered your third trimester. By the end of this month, the combined weight of the babies will be about 7.5 pounds, and they will each be about 1.5 feet long. All internal systems are fully developed, except for the lungs.
The babies will wake and sleep independently, and you may not be able to distinguish them from each other. If they adopt aberrant movement habits or stop moving, call your doctor right away. They should be in the correct position for labor, with their heads near the birth canal—literally in the fetal position!
Your babies can make funny faces in the womb, and even crack a smile. Their faces have filled out into a semi-round shape. They’re adding fat deposits, so that they can calibrate their body temperature once they’re out in the world.
Astonishingly, your body is circulating half again its regular blood volume. Just another one of the miracles of birth. Your uterus is at the stage of development that it would be at 40 weeks for a single birth. You should be gaining a pound a week.
This is a good time (and your last chance for a while) to pamper both yourself and your relationship. Get a pedicure, if you can find a salon that uses non-toxic ingredients.
Have a lovey-dovey date night, and enjoy fantasizing with your partner about what your babies will be like. Hire a babysitter if you need to, or ask a friend to sit. This quality partner time is essential!
At this advanced stage of pregnancy, your hips are expanding to accommodate the birth. Here are remedies for some physical challenges that you may face:
• Heartburn, due to slowing of digestive system, declining uterine space and increasing progesterone levels: take in smaller meals
• Leaking colostrum (pre-milk), an extremely nutrient and antibody-rich liquid: use nursing pads underneath your clothing
At the Obstetrician
Your doctor will check your twins’ position to determine if adjustments are necessary. She will check your pelvis for cervical dilation, if any. This is also the month that she will complete a biophysical profile (BPP) on the babies.
Basically a physical performed on an unborn child, the BPP uses ultrasound to monitor range of motion, lung function and muscles. Electronic heart monitoring will determine the babies’ cardiac health. The doctor will also ensure that the amniotic fluid is sufficient to support the twins for the remainder of your pregnancy.
You might want to undergo the BPP earlier than 32 weeks if you have any of these conditions:
• Kidney problems
• Overactive thyroid
• Unusual bleeding
Your Birth Plan
You’ll be considering the following options:
• Elective Caesarean vs. vaginal birth
• Whether you want natural childbirth or pain intervention
• Pain relief options: narcotics, analgesics, pudendal block or epidural
These issues will be discussed at length in an article entitled Twin Pregnancy at Week 37 to 40.
A C-section in itself is not dangerous to your babies. But why might a mother require caesarean intervention during delivery?
• If labor is not advancing, because of a large infant in a small pelvis or sluggish contractions, as in one-third of all C-sections
• If babies are in distress, as when the contractions slow their hearts, because the placenta is flimsy. The cords can also get tangled, or enter the birth canal.
• If the babies are in the breech position
• Due to heavy bleeding, caused by improper placenta placement
Here’s a countdown checklist for planning the perfect shower. Two months before the event, choose the friend or relative that you consider to be most suitable to host the shower and be chief planner. If a group will plan the shower together, make sure that everyone understands what his or her responsibilities are.
Next, pick a weekend date that’s convenient for you vis-à-vis your delivery date. Traditionally, that date is six weeks before the due date or planned C-section. Some mothers choose to hold the shower shortly after their babies are born. Although with twins, you’ll need plenty of help to pull off that scenario. Plan around attendees who will need to travel a longer distance.
Pick a time of day when the expectant mother is usually at a high energy peak. A good duration for a baby shower is about two hours—don’t let your guests overstay and wear out the mother-to-be!
Along with your chief planner, decide on a theme, around which you’ll choose invitations, favors and decorations. Matching the theme to the babies’ nursery décor is a clever idea.
Put together a guest list, coordinating the size of the party with the mom-to-be’s energy level and the space available. If young children will be attending, some sort of childcare arrangement will be required—or perhaps the moms present can trade off this duty.
These instructions assume that there will be only one shower, but some people choose to do a small, family-only event and another with friends and acquaintances. Some showers even include men!
An all-important element these days is preparing a budget for the party. Making an early start will allow you to make adjustments in the cost. Perhaps the cost can be split among friends or family members.
Your budget will hinge upon:
• Number of guests
• Cost of favors/prizes/décor/invitation
Where will you hold the shower? The usual choice is the chief planner’s home. Other possibilities are a private club, restaurant or even a spa. Decide on the importance of convenient parking, how noisy the party might be, and whether the party will be held indoors or outdoors. If you decide on a public facility, reserve your chosen space right away.
What will your guests eat? Who will prepare the food? Will you serve a meal or just a snack? Do any of them have dietary restrictions? You will want to take the time of day, size of the party, your theme and your budget into account.
Be sure to plan for a surplus of refreshments. Non-alcoholic beverages are always suitable for a shower. If more than one person (or a caterer) will be responsible for the food, firm up those arrangements as soon as possible.
Choose your invitations. Consider using email or the telephone if you are on a limited budget. Handmade invitations can be fun, but they take time. You can also find free shower invitations online.
Twin Pregnancy at Week 25 to Week 28
Babies' Growth in Utero
This is truly a month to celebrate! If your babies were born now, they would have a 90% chance of survival with intensive care. Your twins will also redouble their weight by Week 28, to 15 inches and three pounds each.
More miraculous changes are occurring:
• Skin pigment is approaching its normal color
• Hair is growing
• Babies’ faces are becoming more distinctive (they’re looking more like mom every day)
• They can move their eyelids
• Twins wake and sleep at different times
• They thrive on music and the sound of your voice
• Spinal formation, with 33 distinct vertebrae
• Lungs are approaching final formation, so that babies can take their first breaths
Your uterus should now have grown to about the size of a basketball, but you are still a manageable size for moving about. You have begun attracting attention, and can now share your blessed news with the world. You may have noticed the babies’ movement decrease due to a lack of room to make large shifts in position.
An increase in vaginal fluid is normal, as is a bit of urine leakage. Have your physician explain the distinction. By the same token, mothers expecting multiples often experience false labor, which your doctor can also clarify.
Unfortunately, your body’s expansion brings some challenges. Some women experience the shooting pains, tingling or numbness of sciatica. This condition is caused by either baby’s head exerting indirect compression on the nerves of the back, buttocks or legs. The bad news is that this pain increases as your pregnancy progresses.
The good news is that these pains often disappear as suddenly as they came, sometimes as the babies shift and move. There are a number of remedies and ways to avoid sciatica:
• Don’t bend from the waist
• Recline instead of sitting as much as possible
• When standing, be as erect as you can
• Cold and hot packs for ten minutes (whichever feels right)
• Use a firm mattress (crank up that sleep number)
• When sleeping, consider a full body pillow
• For extreme discomfort, chiropractic or physical therapy are options
Your existing children will be bursting with curiosity about when the babies will ‘pop out.’ If they are very young, be noncommittal with them until Week 35 or 36. You can explain the delivery when it is actually imminent.
Speaking of your older children, now is the time to incorporate your newborns into any existing childcare plan that you have. It’s wise to begin planning before the birth in locations where competition for quality care is keen. You will need plenty of lead-time to visit facilities or interview nannies.
The main options are:
• A Daycare Center costs less than a nanny, but your children get less attention.
• Daycare in a private home is more homelike, but if the provider is unavailable, you’re stuck.
• A nanny provides completely personalized attention, but can be very expensive.
• If relatives care for your children, you have less out-of-pocket expense, but family conflicts may result.
• If one parent stays at home, he or she will witness every important baby milestone, but a large proportion of family income is forfeit.
• If you put your two to five year olds in preschool, they’ll have a learning experience, but your schedule will be less flexible (pick up and drop off)
At the Obstetrician
The time has come for bimonthly medical visits. Be sure to get your doctor’s recommendations on sexual frequency and exercise for the remainder of your pregnancy.
You’ll need a Group B streptococcus screening this month. You will also undergo a glucose-screening test, and if that is positive, your doctor will order a glucose tolerance test to determine if you have gestational diabetes. This condition occurs in up to 14 percent of expectant mothers.
It is important to take this possibility seriously, as pregnancy complications, birth defects and even stillbirth can result. The aftereffects include diabetic and overweight children.
To offset gestational diabetes, you should get regular exercise, keep tabs on your glucose levels and consume a doctor-endorsed diet.
Your doctor will review the symptoms of premature labor with you, and tell you what to do if they occur:
• Pelvic pressure
• Ongoing pain that feels like menstrual cramps
• Vaginal discharge that is watery or bloody
• Regular contractions and/or more than four per hour
• Constant lower back pain
Your fun activity this month will be registering for your baby shower.
Here is a very basic list of items to request:
• A great option for twins is the co-sleeper, which sits at bed level, so the babies are safe in their own bed, but right next to you if they cry. No more getting up during the night!
• High-quality baby monitor
• Non-toxic barrier cream and hypoallergenic baby wipes
• First aid kit
• Swaddle blankets in which to wrap and hold your babies
• Natural fiber, chemical free infant clothing
• Babies need hypoallergenic or organic body wash
• Hypoallergenic, biodegradable laundry soap
• Burp cloths in natural fibers are a staple for new parents—stock up, as they not only protect your clothing, they shield baby from the chemical fumes that all clothes give off
• New car seats for your infants
Twin Pregnancy at Week 21 to Week 24
Babies’ Growth in Utero
Over the next two months, your twins (and you) will experience the biggest growth spurt so far. By Week 24, your babies will have grown to a weight of about three pounds, with a combined length of two feet. They are building up much-needed fat layers.
As their outer skin continues to develop, your babies have obtained a creamy whitish-yellow coating. It’s made up of dead cells, and protects them from the irritants contained in their own amniotic sac.
A thin membrane still defines the babies’ borders. When awake, the twins literally jockey for position—the ever-shrinking space in your uterus. Assuming the emblematic fetal position, all of their joints are slightly bent.
Systemically, the twins’ nervous systems and organs are still maturing. They are capable of ingesting fluids and digesting them.
Congratulations; you’ve reached the honeymoon period! It is vital that you gain enough weight to nourish your twins. A general rule of thumb is to put on 24 pounds by the 24th week. A lack of appetite won’t be a problem; you’re probably starving all day long.
You’ll be feeling extensive fetal movement, sometimes more on one side than the other. It may be frustrating to not be able to discern which one is moving every time. But that’s perfectly normal and expected.
Due to cellular fluid build-up, your bones and nerve endings are being compressed. You may experience symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome—a loss of sensation in your hands. Just rest frequently, and drink your two gallons of water per day. The good news is that the carpal tunnel abates after the birth.
It is also common in the sixth month to feel overly warm. Expectant mothers’ metabolic rates speed up, causing this sensation. Be sure to replace fluids that escape through sweat.
You may also have sudden and acute leg cramps, because of your twins’ extreme need for mineral nutrients. Maternity stockings should be worn all day to support and energize you. Elevating the feet, stretching and regular exercise will all alleviate leg problems.
Falling asleep may be a challenge due to back problems, so do consider a pregnancy pillow, which will both surround and support you. Many women achieve a good night’s sleep with this pregnancy aid, using it to achieve a comfortable position while nursing, as well.
At the Obstetrician
It’s time for your sixth month diagnostic ultrasound! If any factors in your life have changed dramatically, let your physician know. Ask about calcium supplements and other solutions to ease leg cramping.
This is the proper time to review tests performed on your last visit. Your doctor will verify whether or not you are on track with your weight. Preterm labor is a possibility with multiple births, so your doctor will tell you what to look for, and precisely when you need to contact her.
This month, focus on birthing classes. You should also start your birth plan, and prepare a contingency plan as well, in case your labor begins early. See Weeks 34-36 for more details on birth plans.
Childbirth lessons can be as brief or as extensive (lasting your entire pregnancy) as you wish. Most last for two months, and include group discussions, instructor lectures and birth preparation exercises.
The class’ purpose is to arm you and your partner with information to alleviate anxiety. This learning experience will also aid you in making your birthing decisions intelligently. A fringe benefit of attending class is that you’ll meet other couples going through the exact same experience as you.
Coping with discomfort and relaxation are key learning components. Find a class through your insurance plan, or use a freelance birthing teacher. Here is a sample curriculum:
• Distinguishing false alarms from genuine medical concerns
• How to know if you’re in labor
• Breastfeeding and infant care 411
• Possible complications
• Viewing delivery DVDs
• Progression and milestones of pregnancy
• Your partner’s role
Feel free to leave your comments in this post. Share your experience, and perhaps a few pearls of wisdom, with other expectant moms.
Twin Pregnancy at Week 17 to Week 20
Babies’ Growth in Utero
Kudos! All three of you are midway through your pregnancy. Each of your babies is recognizable as a tiny human now, and they are seven inches long, large enough for their movements to be perceptible.
Astoundingly, while still blind and deaf, they are not only aware of each other, but they are also producing their own fluid inside the amnion. The children’s maturation is almost finished (except for the lungs and brain), so all that remains is height and weight expansion.
Your babies now have:
• Fingerprints and fingernails
• Paper-thin skin
• Skeletal structure made up of only cartilage
• Furry covering called lanugo
• Functional extremities
• Rooting and sucking reflex (try lightly poking your tummy to feel it) teaches twins to breastfeed
• Breathing reflex and hiccups ‘teaches’ their bodies how to breathe outside air
• Beginnings of eyebrow and head hair
• More rapid torso than head growth
If your pregnancy was a sweet secret, it can’t be kept any longer—your size will give you away. The good news is that you should be feeling fantastic—very energetic, and with a huge appetite.
Enjoy your pregnancy glow, but be aware that it’s not just about how thrilled you are at having twins. Since your blood flow has increased by 20% to nourish the babies, you will appear flushed. Your skin will be ultra sensitive. Be extra vigilant about using sun protection and hypoallergenic products at this time.
Your uterus needs to stretch twice as much as with a single birth. If you were unprepared for this much belly bulge, go ahead and take big clothes from your husband’s closet. You’ll need to schedule a shopping trip soon.
You may experience sharp pangs between your belly button and hip on one side or the other. This is called round ligament pain, and usually crops up while you are in motion. Caused by uterine expansion, this is a completely routine symptom, and should quickly abate by itself.
At the Obstetrician
You’ll receive results of previous tests. If you tested positive on your AFP, your doctor may recommend amniocentesis. When you have your ultrasound performed, you can see an extremely thin membrane separating the two babies.
Your doctor may want to discuss pregnancy weight gain with you. You should gain between 40 and 50 pounds total, depending on your frame and other factors. The nutrient ratio should be:
You will want to consume between 2,700 and 3,500 daily calories to properly nourish your babies and prepare your body for the tasks again, such as breastfeeding.
Boy(s) or Girl(s)?
This is the right time to decide if you want to know the genders of your babies. Before blood and ultrasound tests, parents picked both a boy’s and a girl’s name, and had fun doing so. They created a neutral color nursery in green, yellow or white, and bought unisex clothing.
However, seventy percent of modern parents choose to find out before the birth. On the pro side:
• You will be able to prepare the nursery in the time-honored colors of pink or blue, if you wish
• You can buy appropriate baby clothes
• You can trumpet the news to various and sundry friends and relatives, so that they can buy baby gifts as far ahead as they wish
• You can keep the sex a secret just between the two of you if you prefer
• A couple can tell any existing children the exciting news about the combination of boys or girls inside mommy’s tummy
• You can pick the correct mix of boy and girl names
• Some experts believe that bonding with your children will be stronger in you know the genders
• You can plan a circumcision, if appropriate
Here are some advantages of waiting to find out your child’s gender:
• You’ll preserve the sense of mystery and excitement throughout the pregnancy, and be surprised when the babies finally arrive
• Gender confirmation testing can be costly. Further, if the babies are in awkward positions on the day of the ultrasound, the technician may not be able to make a determination
• You can have fun guessing and testing out folklore linked to a baby’s gender; e.g., if the mother is carrying low, it’s probably two boys
• If you have a preferred gender in mind, and the baby is the opposite, your disappointment may color the entire pregnancy
Feel free to leave your comments in this post. Share your experience, and perhaps a few pearls of wisdom, with other expectant moms.
Twin Pregnancy at Week 13 to Week 16
Babies’ Growth in Utero
Now that your babies are officially referred to as fetuses, the next big milestone is their new appearance. By Week 13, they should both look like little four-inch tadpoles. Your twins are now capable of involuntary movement.
At 16 weeks, your babies should each weigh in at approximately a quarter of a pound. Their kidney function has begun, their urine is trickling into the amniotic sac and they are capable of swallowing.
You’ll be visiting your doctor for an ultrasound to ensure that development is proceeding properly. Ask about an AFP birth defects test, and also inquire about the likelihood of false positives.
Your waist will have expanded enough by now to necessitate shopping for maternity clothing. You’ll need a good, supportive bra, and substantial athletic shoes to compensate for curvature of the spine.
Shop toward the end of the day to accommodate foot swelling, or buy more than one pair. If you’re feeling energetic enough, obtain an essential baby supply list, and start shopping your way through it.
Moms should be eating up a storm, with most nausea symptoms gone by now. Any acute cravings could indicate a vitamin deficiency, so call your MD if they should occur. You might exhibit a creamy white vaginal discharge at this stage.
Ironically, when you need rejuvenation the most, you may experience sleep disturbance from strange dreams, frequent urination or heartburn. Try a warm bath with a soothing, meditative soundtrack. If you can’t sleep, put some cucumbers over your eyes and just rest. Have your partner massage your neck and shoulders.
You may get headaches, but ibuprofen and aspirin are forbidden. Try the techniques above, as well as an ice pack on your head and the back of your neck. Unfortunately, migraines are not uncommon in weeks 13 through 16 because of high hormone levels.
Here is a list of things that aggravate headaches and migraines:
• Bright lights
• Fatty foods, including nuts
• Fumes and smoke
• Dairy foods
• Artificial sweeteners
Diet Do’s and Don’ts
The first thing to know is that while your body needs more calories than it would for a single baby pregnancy, empty calories are a no-no. And no raw fish allowed. Here are some of the essential elements of a pregnancy diet:
• Folic acid combats birth defects
• Protein is essential for fetus cell growth
• Calcium builds strong bones and teeth
• Carbs enhance your energy levels (when combined with protein)
• Iron fights anemia
The choices described below function as ‘super foods’ for expectant moms, because they are packed with nutritious elements that you need.
Trail mix is not just for hiking. Because it features nuts, each one providing a different essential nutrient, you can feel virtuous as you snack. Go to the natural foods store and add extra nuts, seeds, cereal and a few dark chocolate chips. Mix and match to your heart’s content!
Cereal is not just for breakfast. It can boost the effects of your prenatal vitamins. For pregnant mothers, a whole grain cereal like raisin brain provides folic acid, a B vitamin source. The fiber enhances intestinal function, and adding milk provides protein. What’s not to like?
The calcium in yogurt can supercharge your babies’ bone development. Just stay away from sugary, fatty options. The best way to do this is to buy plain, unflavored yogurt and add honey, fruit, nuts, granola and Brewer’s yeast at home. Or, splurge and buy every flavored of unsweetened, low fat yogurt at the health food store.
Another superlative digestive aid is a flavorful tropical fruit, the papaya. It’s chock full of proteolytic enzymes that help you to digest protein more efficiently. It also relieves morning nausea and is rich in Vitamin C.
Eggs are sometimes referred to as the perfect food, and this is doubly true in pregnancy. In addition to protein, their choline enhances your memory and brain capacity. Eggs with Omega-3 aid your baby’s brain growth and eye health.
Some poultry is off limits in pregnancy, but chicken is safe, low-calorie and high-protein. Make a sandwich with cucumber and spinach leaves. Speaking of spinach, it has many vitamins plus iron, fiber and bioflavanoids. Make a chicken salad, or use in soup, casseroles or sautés.
Have fun with your prenatal diet, and eat like a kid again. Peanut butter on whole grain toast is a fun burst of protein, and is a healthier source of fat than butter or margarine. It also has zinc, iron, thiamin and potassium.
Cooked shrimp is a safe source of seafood, is packed with protein and is easy to prepare in salads and stir-frees. Or, just dip in cocktail sauce and enjoy your selenium and Vitamin D enhanced treat.
Last but not least, hummus is a yummy Middle Eastern food, featuring fiber, folic acid, manganese and protein. Use it as a sandwich spread, salad dressing and a dip.
Feel free to leave your comments in this post. Share your experience, and perhaps a few pearls of wisdom, with other expectant moms.
28 Weeks and Counting…
Wow, do I ever look and feel huge! And everyone I see is sure to tell me they think so too! Thanks everyone! I’m as big now as I was full term with my other kids! I have no idea what I’ll be wearing next week. I’ve probably already expressed my annoyance with maternity clothes, even so, I’m about to do it again. What is with the huge necks?? Seriously, the necks on almost every single one of those maternity tops have necks that sag pretty near reaching my belly button! My personal preference in the first place is to have small necked shirts – maybe partly because I was taught that way as a kid…not sure. (If there is any “blame” to put on my mother for this, to her credit she was probably trying to teach me modesty, and it worked…and I’m thankful! I, however, am trying a little bit different method with my own daughter(s) so that they will still be modest, but it won’t be impossible for them to find a t-shirt in the girl section of the store!)
Anyways…I broke down the other day and finally bought a couple of shirts from the only maternity shop in town. The neck is still a little wider than I like, (which is why I wear another t-shirt underneath it), but when you have nothing left to wear, you don’t have too many options left! Besides the neck thing, the styles are all just so….girly! I may just have to be a hermit for the last month or so!
Another annoyance I have with the whole pregnancy thing is the “belly touching”. It’s like it’s a magnet or something! Everyone automatically reaches out there hands to my stomach when they see me. Well, listen up all you belly touchers!! Just because it sticks out a mile, doesn’t mean it isn’t still a part of my body! No, you’re not allowed to touch it, and most likely anyways, the babies are not kicking at that moment! They don’t kick on demand! And unless belly-rubbing becomes the new handshake…can we just keep our hands to ourselves?? I had a woman the other day walk over to me to sit beside me with her hands held out saying, “oh, I just have to come feel your belly!” I put both arms around my belly (as if that would cover it) and said, “uh, no you don’t…don’t touch me!” She looked shocked that I wouldn’t let her, a stranger, feel my belly! Well, go spread the word lady…we preggos don’t really like it!
It cracks me up too, how people make my belly button a topic of conversation. Yes people, this is what happens to pregnant women…pretty fascinating, isn’t it! I think I’m going to start asking people if they have an innie or an outie. If you want to talk belly buttons I’ll talk belly buttons, but be prepared to talk about yours too!
Oh, and just one more thing. I’ve gotten to the point that I totally look like a thief in the department stores…especially walking out of the sporting (basketball) department! I’ve seriously had store clerks look at me really suspiciously. Luckily (probably thanks to my aforementioned “outie”) I’ve never had anyone stop and accuse me of stealing anything. As I type this though, the thought crossed my mind that maybe they look at me funny because I’m preggo and have three fighting kids already in my cart! Nah…I know the “your crazy” look from the “what are you hiding under there” look. One of these days, just for fun, I’d like to act all suspicious as I leave the store….you know…hold my belly and look around all paranoid-like as I run out of a store. I should be able to have a little fun with it, no?
I also try to make a conscious effort not to waddle when I walk. So if you ever see me walking somewhere, I’m not actually thinking about where I’m going – I’m thinking about not waddling. Who know’s – maybe my very attempt not to waddle actually makes me waddle. Either way, it takes focus and concentration to try to make sure I avoid the “waddle”.
Anyways, I had my first appt with the specialist last week. Unfortunately there’s nothing they can do about my horrible back pain, or my lack of sleep. Supposedly they are setting up another ultrasound in the near future (was supposed to hear from them a few days ago). They are also sending me to Calgary to get Echo’s done on both babies. The Dr. said that because I’ve had one child with valve problems, the chances of having another with valve problems goes up. So we are getting these kids checked out just to be on the safe side. When I tell people this I act as if it’s no big deal – just procedure (which it is)…but to be honest I’m a little nervous. I think I have the right to be. Hopefully things will check out fine though. I wish they’d hurry up and call me with the dates…I may have to take matters into my own hands and call them pretty soon. We’ll see how impatient I get.
Last Tuesday I went to have that oh so enjoyable glucose test done. I swear those bottles of “orange pop” get bigger every pregnancy! I’m just really glad it’s done. Hopefully the results look good. I also had to go back to my regular Dr. on Tuesday. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that I had Bronchitis for a few weeks there. Dr. gave me some anti-biotics that didn’t seem to do much good, but the cough seemed to go away for a few days. Only a few days though, and then it came back, and it’s still here. My Dr. obviously has no clue what’s actually wrong….he handed me an asthma inhaler and said, “here…try this.” I’m not actually sure how many times a day I’m supposed to be taking it…the bottle says twice a day and the instructions that came in the box says 2 inhales twice a day. I’ve been taking it twice a day, but it seems to be working as well as the anti-biotics did. I’m coughing so much my upper back hurts too – I guess if my back is going to hurt, it might as well ALL hurt! Boy wouldn’t that be annoying if just one part of it hurt and not the others! I’m sure lucky!
So there’s the pregnancy update thus far. I started writing this blog almost a week ago, so technically I only have 7 weeks till I’m “full term” as far as twins go. But that may not mean anything, as I’ve heard of other women making it to the full 40 weeks with twins. Could I be that “lucky”?? Something tells me there’s a good chance I could!
Week 21 was pretty much the same as weeks 20, 19, 18 and probably 17 too. Early on in every pregnancy I've had (this is my fourth), except the first one (because I didn't know any better), I've tried to avoid looking in all those pregnancy books at the "what you may be feeling" section. Maybe it's just me, but every time I read a symptom that is even suggested that I may be experiencing - I have it! So in those first few months I would read..."may experience nausea, headaches, and extreme fatigue" and even if I felt perfectly fine just prior to reading that, I all of a sudden felt very sick. SO, I try not to read those sections...but sometimes they are unavoidable because they are everywhere! When a pregnancy progresses to the middle and later months, there begin to be symptoms listed that I have never even heard of before! I have no idea what they mean, and when I read further, it just adds worry to my already paranoid brain.
What I'm feeling now is discomfort, especially when trying to sleep. It seems like I get heartburn if I lay on my right side, but it's already hard to breathe when I lay in any position. Sadly there have already been nights when I have to resort to sleeping in the recliner. Other than that my tail bone (or really lower back) hurt by the late afternoon and evening. Too much pressure I think. It hurt really bad with my last pregnancy too, but not this soon. The twins are obviously heavier than one baby was. I'm also super hungry all the time...can't seem to get enough to eat, yet feel really silly for eating because I don't "look" like I should be hungry at all!
The most annoying thing that I'm feeling right now is RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). Oh, how I hate that! Usually when I lay down at night, exhausted, I get this feeling in my legs like I need to get up and run around the block. They twitch and spaz and I have no control! I've had this for all my pregnancies (that I can remember anyways) and have never found anything that really helps. However, the other day I was talking to a wise Dr. that told me to try some magnesium. When Justin got home from work and saw that written on our shopping list, he found some in our cupboard (which also had calcium) and suggested I try that. Sure enough, that night when I went to bed my legs started getting restless again, so I popped one of those Calcium/Magnesium pills and it worked wonders! My legs still felt at times like they were on the verge of spasm, but they never did, and they didn't keep me up at all that night!
The babies are fairly active sometimes now. Not enough to annoy me yet, which is nice, just enough to enjoy. There have been times when one of their little limbs bulging out a little bit. I let my 5 and 3 year old kids feel it, and they think that was pretty cool. Although now, my 3 year old daughter comes up to me and says, "I wanna feel the baby mom!" Then she feels my belly button and makes this face like it's really cool she felt the baby again. I keep telling her that's not the baby, but she keeps insisting. Whatever, she's three.
One thing that really annoys me about all those pregnancy books is that they always assume that it's your first one (or two in this case). Well guess what...a lot of times, it's not! Then I read things like, "try to take it easy - put your feet up and relax while you can - go out on dates with your husband (or partner as they put it) while there's time" When you're chasing around a 2, almost 4 and almost 6 year old...there's no time for any of that! What are we supposed to do? What it should say is, "Get a good psychiatrist lined up, because once the twins come, the hardest part will be staying out of the nut house!" Good, honest advice...that's what I want. Just as one lady at church said to me, after finding out I'm expecting twins, "I'm not going to say congratulations...all I'm going to say is hang in there!" Sure, it's really really exciting, but it is definitely going to be a lot of work! And when this isn't a first pregnancy, all you can do is teach your other kids how to do a few more things for themselves, and go to bed as soon as they do!
What a wild day we had yesterday! If you're not aware, I'm preggo again, and was scheduled for my first ultrasound yesterday (May 31st)...yep, I'm about half done! This is the first time Justin has not been able to make it to an ultrasound, but made me swear the day before that I would not joke around about the results - like I would do such a thing! Anyways, my parents came into town to watch the kids for me while I went.
Before I get into it, I have to talk about ultrasounds for a min. Personally I think they are funny...not "haha" funny, but funny as in the instructions you're supposed to follow prior to going in for one. When I was going for my first ultrasound with my first pregnancy, I followed the instructions to a T. And Justin made sure of that! I don't think I realized how much 3 glasses of water actually was until then! (I'm not a drinker...in any sense of the word! I regularly forget to drink anything even with meals! I've never been able to drink a whole can of pop in one sitting....or day for that matter! Anyways I think you get my point...) So back to my first pregnancy and ultrasound...I drank the 3 glasses 90 min before, and like a half hour later I had to "go" so bad!! An hour later I seriously felt like I was going to explode, but Justin insisted I would be fine, and also told me he locked the bathroom door. Which, now that I think about it is pretty ridiculous, because A it didn't lock from the outside, and B well....it just doesn't make sense...but in my tortured condition I lost all ability to think rationally and was like, "oh crap, are you serious?" Anyways, we ended up leaving the house like a half hour early just so I could "get my mind off it", but every tiny rock we went over reminded me anyways. Well, I told Justin that he better get me to a bathroom and he must have been able to sense (finally) the urgency so he drove me to Wendys and I "went"!! I did however grab a cup of water on my way out...just to top up...worried that they wouldn't be able to do the ultrasound anymore. Well, it turned out when I went in to have the ultrasound done, the technician sent me to the washroom to empty about 2 cups worth! Unbelievable! Anyways, after that I had a whole bunch more ultrasounds with my first due to his heart condition, but quickly learned that if I took a bottle of water with me and had a few swallows about 10 min before, it was all good. And so with subsequent pregnancies, as my Dr.s secretary explains the whole pre-ultrasound procedure to me, I have to chuckle. Three cups of water...wow!
Where was I....oh yes, my parents came in to watch my kids... Well, I was really hoping to have one of the younger technicians...maybe one that wasn't such a stickler with not revealing the gender of the baby or whatever. I had an old one with Bryn and after the ultrasound was over, I asked if she could tell the gender of the baby and she said something like, "Oh, I didn't even check." Seriously? Wow, was that her first time? Anyways, I didn't care for her much, and when my "older" technician came to get me yesterday, I was like, "oh great...another one of these kind!" I walked into the little room and she said, "ok, I'll need you to pull down your pants." I kind of looked at her funny, like...."what kind of ultrasound do you think I'm here for??" I figured she meant to just unbutton my jeans like I had to in all my previous ultrasounds so they could tuck that white paper stuff in there. So that's what I did, and she said, "No, no...all the way over your bum!" What kind of power trip was this chick on? (One of my brothers said I should have said, "you first!" hahaa!) Anyways, I grabbed the white paper stuff from her and carefully did so as to protect my privacy somewhat (and let it be known that she could have easily done the scan she did without me even so much as unbuttoning my pants probably!) and let her get started. I figured I'd probably need to be very specific with this one, so I said right off the bat, "we'd really like to know the gender of the baby, so could you please check for that?" Inevitably she said, "I'm not allowed to tell you the gender...yada yada" I was like, "I know, but can you at least check and write it down so our Dr. can tell us? She agreed.
Well, after just a few min of scanning, she got up and said, "I'll be right back." I immediately panicked because the only other time a technician has left, was my first scan with my oldest...she had to go get someone else to verify the heart defect. So as soon as she left the room I sat up a little and looked at the screen. At the bottom it said "BABY A". My eyes widened wondering if that meant what I thought it meant! She came back into the room a few seconds later and said, "Well, I can tell you that there are two babies in there!" Woooohooo!!! I couldn't believe it, but was super excited! I think I asked her three times if she was joking...to which she replied, "I don't joke about stuff like that!" So it's true, Though we don't believe it ourselves yet...still in shock I guess. When the ultrasound was over I said, "I know you can't tell me, but were you able to determine the gender of both babies?" She said she could and I said good, and then out of the blue she threw her hands in the air and said, "oh, it's a boy and a girl!" I'm glad she told me...was pretty funny though cause she set herself out to be a by-the-book technician but then just blurted it out. Still makes me chuckle.