Welcome to our blog on pregnancy advice when you are expecting twins! There are quite a few differences from having twins compared to having a singleton, but we are here to guide you through the extra things to be aware of now that your miracle has doubled :)
1) Go on maternity leave earlier
Most twin pregnancies (or indeed multiple births) do not go to full term and twins are often born early. The general rule is to leave work to go on maternity leave no later than 28 weeks (the NHS recommends from 26 weeks, but if you are expecting more than 2 babies, you should consider leaving earlier). Its also important to consider this because as you approach the end of your pregnancy and the babies get heavier, this will cause you to get tired easily and also cause your blood pressure to rise or other health problems may occur. Always consult your doctor to confirm in your particular case.
2) You're eating for 3!
Keep in mind you are eating for 3 - that is an additional 600 calories a day. But make sure you are getting plenty of the good stuff. Read our blog on Your Pregnancy Diet - What You Need To Know by clicking here.
3) You are more at risk of anaemia
As you are carrying twins, you are at a higher risk of anaemia (lack of B12 or folate in the body). The NHS offers extra blood tests to monitor these levels and may offer you iron supplements (see: NHS website here). To increase iron in your diet, eat more leafy green vegetables, beans and lean red meet.
4) Be prepared!
As most twins are born premature, make sure you plan ahead and pack your hospital bag as early as 26 weeks. Download our FREE HOSPITAL BAG CHECKLIST to help you get organised for the hospital when the babies are born.
Also make sure you have two sets of nappies, rompers, hats etc which are for premature babies as well as for normal-term newborn babies - so you are equipped if the babies arrive early or on time!
5) Be aware of your birthing options
Its a common misconception that twins are born by caesarean section but in actual fact more than 40% of twins are born by vaginal births in the UK.
You are more likely to have a vaginal birth if the first baby's head is facing down (cephalic). However, it is recommended that if you are planning a vaginal birth, to have an epidural. That way, if complications arise, either from the first birth or the second birth, the antenatal team can get to work more quickly. Once the first baby is born, the antenatal team will check the position of the second baby. If the second baby is in a good position and the cervix is still dilated, the second baby can also have a vaginal birth soon after. If contractions stop, this can be induced with a hormone drip.
Most twin and multiple births are by caesarean section in the UK. Some mothers choose to have a caesarean section, but even if you plan a vaginal birth you may be advised by your doctor to have a caesarean section if there are medical complications. Therefore even though its good to have a birth plan, it's important to have options as things may not go to plan on the day.
More information on birthing options can be found on the NHS website by clicking here.
6) Bonding time
Given most twin babies are premature, be aware that in the first few weeks they will need to stay in incubators (given how early they are). This means you may not be able to cradle them as much as a normal newborn, and you may feel you're not getting enough bonding time in. Be patient, and once you get the go-ahead to go home, it's double the kiss and cuddles from then on!
7) Get into a routine as soon as possible
It can be overwhelming having a newborn in the house, let alone two, so it's a good idea to get into a routine as soon as possible. Align the twins' nap schedules and eating schedules; if one is awake and other is asleep, keep them in sync and wake the sleeping baby. It may seem harsh, but it will save you a lot of hassle and stress if you keep their routines aligned.
8) Get some help
Juggling two is an enormous task and if you want to keep on your routine, two pairs of hands is definitely better than one. For example, when feeding, express your milk or prepare the formula (whichever you prefer) and you and your partner can simultaneously feed the twins rather than one at a time. This makes it easier to stay on top of your routine and takes some of the burden off you. Also ask family for help with chores and housework if you can.
9) Keep on top of your budget
Having a baby is expensive with all the costs of clothing, accessories, toys, cots etc, so it's a given having twins is even more expensive! Manage the budget by getting hand me downs clothes, accessories, toys etc from friends and family. However, it is not advisable to use pre-owned cots and car seats in case they are no longer safe.
10) Be aware of your benefits when expecting twins (in the UK)
In the UK, you are not entitlement to more leave or pay if you are expecting twins compared to if you were expecting one baby (as of 11/05/2020 source: NHS). However, you can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits for each child.
If you or your partner satisfy certain conditions, you could qualify for the Sure Start Maternity Grant (a one-off payment of £500 which does not have to be paid back). For more information, visit the UK Government website here.
For more information, visit the TAMPA (Twins And Multiple Births Association) website. We love the TAMPA checklist which is a comprehensive guide to preparing for your arrivals. Find this link here.
Are you expecting twins or have you had twins? Share your thoughts or your pearls of wisdom by commenting below!