Whew! You made it to the second trimester of your twin pregnancy. What a feat but the real work is about to begin for this is when you need to pack on the pounds. That’s right, it’s time to eat up! But how much weight should you gain and how can you possibly accomplish this seemingly Herculean task?
Twin Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines
New guidelines suggest that a mom expecting twins should gain between 37 and 54 pounds, with 46 pounds as the mean weight gain. How much you should personally gain depends on your pre-pregnancy body mass so speak to your doctor. For instance, if your body mass index (BMI) is within a normal range (18.5 to 24.9), then you should try to gain 46 pounds but if your BMI is 25 to 29.9 (overweight), you’ll need to gain 42 pounds. Obese women, however, with a BMI 30 and above should gain around 35 pounds. (Use the BMI Calculator below using your pre-pregnancy weight to give you an idea of where you stand.)
Why all this focus on weight? Putting on the proper amount of weight during a twin pregnancy lowers your risk of preterm delivery and low-birth-weight babies. Although only 3 percent of live births involve twins, preterm twins suffer far more complications. (Twins, tragically, are seven times more likely to die before their first birthday than single-born babies.)
Stop! Enough with the scary scenarios! OK, I get it. It’s not what you want to hear when you’re pregnant with twins (I was once in your shoes, too, and didn’t want to hear it either) but the good news is that weight gain is within your control. Yes, it will take lots of calories to pack on those pounds. And it will take planning and a big commitment on your part. But you can do it!
Start with a solid plan. Depending on how much weight you gained during your first trimester will determine how much weight you’ll need to gain in your second. But the rule of thumb is 24 pounds by Week 24. Use that figure as a guide to determine how much you should put on from here on out. (Most moms-to-be with twins, however, will need to gain anywhere from one to one-and-a-half pounds a week throughout their second semester.) Don’t worry if you’re gaining way less or even a bit more as every mom is different but speak to your doctor nonetheless to put your mind at ease.
Tips for Increasing Calories and Protein During Your Twin Pregnancy
- Make every meal count. Concentrate on protein as that’s what really plumps up your babies. For instance, opt for a poached egg (6 grams of protein) and two slices of whole wheat toast (8 grams of protein) for breakfast instead of a bagel and butter.
- Eat often. Yes, three meals a day are a must but several, nutrient-dense snacks every day are important, too. Think cheese on whole-wheat crackers, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs.
- Accessorize your food. Add a quarter-cup of non-fat dry milk to your morning oatmeal. You won’t notice the taste but the 10 grams of extra protein is a big step closer to your daily goal. Sprinkle a handful of chopped peanuts (7 grams of protein) or two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese (4 grams of protein) on your salad. Add a bit of protein powder to your fruit smoothie, too!
- Consume full-fat dairy products and skip the low-fat or skim alternatives. Remember, this is not a typical pregnancy; fat and calories are actually good for twin babies!
- Give into your food cravings and that includes fast food. Yes, junk food, people! Fat, calories, protein—that’s what packs on the pounds. So if you crave a Big Mac with its 550 calories and 25 grams of protein, rest assured your babies will approve.
- Keep a food diary. By monitoring what you eat and when will not only help you reach your daily caloric/protein goals but it will also clue you in on which foods trigger heartburn and indigestion.
- Thirsty? Drink healthy liquids with calories such as milk or freshly squeezed juice. (Soda, however, is not a good choice.)
- Pack a snack. Never leave home without a snack tucked inside your handbag. Protein-rich snacks like a bag of mixed nuts or trail mix are both good. Protein bars are not a bad choice either.
Your Twin Pregnancy Body at Week 13 – 14
Morning sickness may start subsiding as you enter Week 13 but many moms-to-be carrying twins still struggle with nausea for several more weeks. And even if you were lucky enough to have had mild morning sickness, this is the time in pregnancy where indigestion and heartburn begin to rear their ugly heads. These unpleasant side effects of pregnancy are due to acid creeping up your esophagus. You can help alleviate your discomfort by staying away from spicy or fatty foods and caffeine. Eating many smaller meals during the day instead of three large ones will also help. Plus, it’s better for your growing babies, too, as you’ll be providing them a constant stream of nutrition.
You may also begin to feel a few aches and pains in your abdominal area. No need to worry, however, as round ligament pain—as it’s called—just means your muscles and ligaments are stretching to accommodate your uterus as it grows up into your midsection.
Your belly will also begin to blossom, so to speak, so if you haven’t already started wearing maternity clothes, you will now! It can be frustrating finding something that fits properly as your pregnancy progresses, however, as most maternity clothing is geared towards moms carrying singletons. Luckily, as the number of multiple births continues to increase, more and more maternity shops are taking notice, stocking clothing specific to twin moms. For Multiples Maternity, for instance, has a line of casual as well as business attire for moms of twins. (They add room in the belly without increasing the size of the whole garment.)
Your Twin Babies at Week 13 – 14
And what about your babies? Although you won’t feel them kicking for a few more weeks, rest assured that they’re trying to kick each other! Just about three inches long and tipping the scales at a mere one ounce each, your babies toes and fingers are formed and so are their genitalia (although you won’t be able to see their sex on an ultrasound for a few more weeks). They can turn their heads and even swallow, too! This week, their vocal cords will begin to form and so will their fingerprints. And speaking of fingerprints: did you know that although identical twins (monozygotic or MZ) have the exact same DNA, each will have his own set of unique fingerprints? Researchers believe that even slight differences that each twin experiences in the womb have an effect on the developing dermal cell layers of skin.
With morning sickness waning and your belly size still under control, Week 13 to 14 are the Golden Days of your twin pregnancy. Take time now while you still feel good to enjoy it all.