When I was pregnant with twins, it was pretty smooth sailing. No preterm labor or delivery, no gestational diabetes, no preecalmpsia. Yes, I was lucky—both my babies were born healthy requiring no NICU. They came home with me after my brief hospital stay. That’s not to say my pregnancy was a walk in the park. Far from it. I was constantly breathless, sleep eluded me, and in the last month, I developed a pregnancy rash (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP) that spread all over my bulging belly. It nearly drove me insane. I was so uncomfortable that the day I delivered I turned to my doctor and snapped, “Get these babies out of me!”
If you’re in your third trimester of a twin pregnancy, hang in there! With each day that passes, you’re one day closer to meeting your babies. Unfortunately, the third trimester can be challenging for many moms—it’s often difficult to walk, to sleep, to eat, and yes, even breathe. Thankfully, there are a few ways to make your final weeks a bit more comfortable.
Breathlessness during your twin pregnancy.
When you’re pregnant with twins, your rapidly growing uterus puts a lot of pressure on your diaphragm making you feel as though you can’t catch your breath. Although annoying, it’s perfectly normal and harmless to you and your babies. (But if you also experience a rapid heart beat or arrhythmia, dizziness or chest pain, call your doctor immediately.)
What can you do for breathlessness?
Slow down. For me, slowing down was difficult as I did (and still do) everything fast! But when you consciously slow yourself down (as I ultimately had to do), you expend less energy, giving your heart and lungs a break.
Stand or sit up straight. Don’t slouch! Put your shoulders back or lift your arms up over your head. All this gives your lungs more room to expand.
Practice meditation. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. It will help calm your nerves and lower your heart rate.
If you can’t eat in the final days of pregnancy.
Most moms-to-be find it much more difficult to eat a full meal during the final weeks of their third trimester. What a change from the second trimester when most of us were ravenous! But now with your uterus growing up and pushing against your stomach, there’s just no more room in your abdomen! Yet your babies still need lots of good nutrition to finish their nine-month journey strong and healthy.
What can you do if you can’t eat?
Try smaller meals. Eat less but more often. Instead of three big meals each day, think six small meals. Or even eight. Hey, think tapas!
Focus on nutrition. With less calories coming in, there’s no room for junk. Concentrate on foods high in protein—think lean meats and poultry, fish, and lots of diary—as it boosts your babies’ weight.
Keep a snack bag. Always have a healthy snack on hand. A bag of shelled peanuts in your handbag, a bedside plate of cheese and crackers to nibble on when you get up (again) in the middle of the night to go pee. As long as you keep a constant flow of nutrition to your body, your babies should do just fine.
Difficulty walking during your twin pregnancy.
Imagine carrying around a 50-pound backpack every day. Not happening, right? Well, that’s what it’s like in the third trimester for many moms expecting twins. Between the enormous weight a mom must carry in front putting pressure on her back, the constant pressure on her pelvic floor (if only “Baby A” would just shift a little to the left) making it feel as though she’s about to expel a bowling ball at any moment, plus the hormone changes that relaxes pelvic ligaments causing discomfort or worse, pain, it’s no wonder that many moms-to-be simply can’t walk for any length of time.
What can you do if walking is difficult?
Take advantage of motorized carts. In the supermarket, at the amusement park, even in the airport—don’t walk; take the motorized cart instead. It’s there specifically to help those in need, and right now, that’s you.
Plan your day carefully. Getting the most important tasks done in the least amount of steps will cut the time you need to be on your feet.
Get bossy. Don’t get up out of that chair. Delegate instead. Even a three-year-old can fetch you the TV remote or pour you a glass of water. And don’t believe it when your husband tells you he can’t find the mayonnaise and needs your help. He’s a big boy; he’ll figure it out. In the office, ask colleagues to come to you for the staff meeting instead of the other way around.
Do your chores sitting down. Don’t stand while at the stove; pull up a stool instead. Take the laundry to the couch to fold. You can even take a small lightweight stool into the shower so you can sit down to bathe.
Use walkie-talkies or cell phones. No intercom at home? No need to get up or yell, use a walkie-talkie or even your cell phone to notify family members that dinner’s ready.
If you can’t sleep during your twin pregnancy.
By the third trimester, most pregnant moms are so huge they simply can’t find a comfortable sleeping position. Sleeping on your side is the preferred position as sleeping on your back for any length of time puts too much pressure on a major vein that return blood from your legs and lower body back to your heart. If compressed, it can slow the circulation possibly cutting off oxygen and nutrients to the babies. But many moms find side sleeping cumbersome as it requires too many pillows—one between the legs, one under the stomach, and one cradling the back.
What can you do for sleeplessness?
Sleep on the couch. Sounds silly but if you sleep on your side, the back of the couch offers great back support and if your cushions are soft enough, they’ll cradle your belly, taking some of the pressure off. It’s how I spent every night of my final month.
Try a body pillow. One big, full-length pillow that you can wrap your body around is remarkably comfortable and easy to maneuver in the middle of the night.
Sleep sitting up in the living room recliner. Don’t pitch it all the way back, mind you, as it will mimic sleeping on your back. But if you recline 20-degrees that should offer you just enough comfort to nod off.