Like some of you reading this article, I learned I was pregnant with twins right around Week Six. A few days after I had taken a pregnancy blood test, my doctor’s office called asking me to come back in for an ultrasound as my test had an “elevated level of hCG.” I panicked but the nurse assured me that there was no need for worry. “We just want to see if you miscalculated the date of your last period or if you’re pregnant with twins,” she said.
As I was always one of those women who marked the day my period arrived on a calendar, I knew something was up. I tried to warn my husband that we could in fact be expecting twins but he balked at the suggestion. His attitude soon changed to utter surprise and shock for there on the ultrasound screen were two little flickering heart beats. Twins.
If you get called in for a transvaginal ultrasound early on in your pregnancy, you too might not see much on the screen but rest assured that by Week Six (a mere four weeks after conception) the brains, kidneys, livers and spines of your twins are developing rapidly although each baby is barely larger than the size of a grain of rice. By Week Eight, your babies have hands, feet and even elbows, too. Fingers are beginning to form.
It’s also between Week Six and Eight that you may begin to experience some pregnancy symptoms, you know, those pesky problems that plague all pregnant women during the first trimester but unfortunately are heightened for moms carrying twins due to a higher concentration of hormones. You may notice, for instance, that you’re getting tired way more easily. That’s perfectly normal as your body is busy at work nurturing two growing babies. In fact, you should slow down and take it easy! Start getting into the habit of taking frequent rests preferably lying down on your left side as that will increase the blood flow (and nutrients) to your babies.
You may notice a marked increase in your appetite, too. Don’t fight it! Although a mom-to-be expecting a singleton requires about 2,300 calories a day, mothers pregnant with twins need a minimum of 2,700 calories a day (3,100 is optimal). Give into your cravings (mine were hamburgers) and load up on those calories with special attention paid to protein. In a multiple pregnancy, protein is king as research has shown that protein puts the weight on babies and helps prevent preterm labor and premature delivery. And the earlier the weight gain the better as it aids in the development and function of the placenta. Aim for a weight gain of 24 pounds by Week 24.
Week Six to Eight Twin Pregnancy Tips:
- If you suspect you’re pregnant, start taking a daily multivitamin until you get to the doctor’s office where she’ll write out a prescription for prenatal vitamins. However, make sure your over-the-counter substitute contains enough folic acid, known to help reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
- To help fight morning sickness, don’t let yourself get too hungry for that’s when symptoms exasperate. Instead, try to keep a constant flow of food going all day. Many small snacks rather than three large meals tend to curb the feelings of nausea. As strange as it sounds, keep food with you at all times—a snack in your handbag or briefcase, one in your car, and even one in your office.
- Slow down! Cut out strenuous exercising such as aerobics, cycling or hiking, for instance. Less activity means fewer burned calories leaving more for your growing babies. Take frequent rests during the day, too, putting your feet up, or if you can, lying on your left side. Shoot for three mini-naps every day.
- Think about visiting a perinatologist, or maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialist, an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. (And, yes, if you’re carrying twins you’re considered “high risk” regardless of your age.) You can use a perinatologist as either your primary-care physician or as a consultant. Either way, it’s great to have an extra set of eyes trained to spot potential problems.
- Read up on your twin pregnancy. These days there are many books on the subject that will enlighten you on your exciting road ahead. Become informed as knowledge is power!