Looking After Yourself
Taking care of yourself during a multiple pregnancy starts with eating well – except that little research has been done on what that means for a mother carrying multiples.
In the absence of any real science, it’s probably best to aim for healthy, balanced meals along the lines the NHS promotes to all pregnant women. You will need to drink plenty of fluid, ideally eight large glasses of water a day as a minimum. It’s worth bearing in mind that sugary snacks can give you highs and lows which may be unpleasant. Slow-burning foods such as whole grain breads and crackers, vegetables, beans, oats, brown rice and whole grain pasta will tend to keep your blood sugar more stable and may satisfy you for longer.
You will need more protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12 than in a singleton pregnancy, so make sure you have a varied diet. Try to eat little and often. Fresh foods are likely to give your body more of what it needs nutritionally than foods that have been processed. Taking a pregnancy supplement is also a good idea.
For more on what foods to include and what to avoid, download our Healthy Multiple Pregnancy Guide.
How big will I get?
Expectant mothers vary in size as in any pregnancy, but you can certainly expect to gain more weight than women carrying a singleton. In addition to the extra baby or babies, multiples mums carry extra placentas, amniotic fluid and maternal body fluid.
As the babies grow, keeping physically comfortable can be a challenge. It’s probably best not to plan a huge amount of activity for the last few weeks of pregnancy – getting in and out of cars as well as negotiating seatbelts can become difficult, and you will probably be more tired with all the extra work your body is doing. It can help to swap tips with other pregnant mums (as well as share experiences and get a little sisterly support) via our members-only messageboard.
Boring but important, pelvic floor exercises do minimise the risk of a prolapsed uterus later in life, as well as help your pelvic floor return to normal after the babies are born. To do them, tighten the muscles around your vagina and anus (it feels like stopping the flow of urine) and count to five before relaxing the muscles. Do this ten times, repeating the whole routine five times a day. It can help if you put a discreet note somewhere you’ll see it regularly (such as inside your purse) reminding you to do a set. No one need know...
Gentle exercise during pregnancy can ease tension and help your muscle tone. Don’t do anything where balance is key as your centre of gravity will be changing as your belly grows. Low-impact sports like walking and swimming suit many people. Whatever you choose, start slowly and stop if you feel any cramping, pain or shortness of breath.
Try to look after your emotional wellbeing as well as physical health. The extra hormones can sometimes make you feel emotional and overwhelmed. This is normal, even though it may surprise or upset you when it happens, especially if it isn’t how you usually react.
If you feel stressed or anxious, talk to a health professional or family member. You can also ring Tamba’s freephone helpline Twinline on 0800 138 0509. This confidential listening service is staffed by trained volunteers who are all parents of multiples themselves. It is open every day of the year from 10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm.
Follow the links to find out more about finding out you are expecting multiples, antenatal care, common symptoms in multiple pregnancies, complications, preparing for your babies’ arrival, work and finance, and birth plans.