- It’s perfectly normal to feel a range of different emotions - positive and negative - when you discover you are expecting multiples and throughout your pregnancy.
- Connecting with AMBA and your local multiple births club can help you find other families travelling a similar path..
- Multiples pregnancies are more risky than carrying a singleton. Regular, quality antenatal care is critical to ensure you feel comfortable and supported, and to monitor and mitigate the additional risks.
- You can expect more body changes and, possibly, heightened pregnancy symptoms.
- It’s important to look after yourself by eating well and staying active through low-impact exercise.
Finding out it's twins, triplets or more
Surprise, delight, apprehension, disappointment and excitement - it is perfectly normal to feel some (or all) of these emotions and more when you find out you are expecting multiples.
In Australia each year, twins and higher order multiples (triplets or more) account for around 1.5% of all pregnancies. It can be hard to find support if you don’t know any families of multiples - this is especially true for parents expecting triplets or more. AMBA can help you connect with clubs and families nearest to you, and you can join your local club as soon as you find out you are expecting multiples - visit www.amba.org.au/clubfinder.
The following information may also be helpful as you navigate a pregnancy much different to the one you were expecting.
A multiple birth pregnancy is higher risk than a singleton pregnancy. It requires a higher level of care which, in practice, means more appointments, monitoring and tests.
The frequency of ultrasounds will depend whether you are carrying multiples with separate or shared placentas. Babies with separate placentas are often monitored at 12-13 weeks, 20 weeks then every four weeks until birth. Babies sharing a placenta, and especially those sharing an amniotic sac, might be monitored as frequently as every two weeks from the start of the second trimester. Generally, a fully-term pregnancy for twins is 37-38 weeks. For triplets, 35 weeks is considered full-term; for quads and more this figure reduces even further.
Health risks for a multiples pregnancy include anaemia, bleeding, high blood pressure, diabetes and premature labour. For the babies, there is an increased risk of mortality or disability. The level of risk is generally related to the number of babies and whether they share a placenta and/or amniotic sac. These additional risks mean frequency and quality of antenatal care is essential. You will get to know your midwife and/or doctor well and should feel comfortable discussing any symptoms and asking as many questions as you need.
Some women who are carrying multiples find that they have noticeable and very early pregnancy symptoms: tiredness, nausea, vomiting, emotional ups and downs and constipation.
A multiples pregnancy involves an extra baby or babies and extra placentas, amniotic fluid and maternal bodily fluid. A woman who is pregnant with multiples might gain 16-20 kg compared with 10-15 kg for a singleton pregnancy.
Health and wellbeing
Eating a balanced, fresh diet and drinking plenty of water is very important. You will need more protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 than in a singleton pregnancy. In addition to eating a wide variety of fresh foods, taking a pregnancy supplement might be helpful.
Gentle, low impact exercise can ease tension and help your muscle tone. You could try Pilates, yoga, walking or swimming. Whatever you choose, start slowly and stop if you feel any cramping, pain or shortness of breath. Separately, getting into a habit of daily pelvic floor exercises will minimise future health risks including loss of bladder control and a prolapsed uterus.