No two pregnancies are the same. While one expecting mother may experience morning sickness right away, another may not experience it until week 7. Because of this, instead of laying out twin pregnancy symptoms week by week, we decided to make a trimester by trimester guide.
For part two of our trimester by trimester series click here.
For part three of our trimester by trimester series click here.
In the first trimester, you will be more tired than you have ever been in your life. You will want to sleep at red lights and at your desk. It was the first sign I was pregnant, actually. After a week of sleeping fourteen hours a night, I got a test. Low and behold, I was pregnant!
2. Pregnancy Brain
Look, it’s real, and it’s worse with twins. Your body is making two placentas or perhaps one very large placenta, and that’s a lot of work. You will forget your own name. You will put the remote in the freezer. You will wake up on Saturday and think it’s Wednesday. Don’t panic! Yes, it’s way worse than it was with your single pregnancy, or it’s way worse than you were expecting, but it’s so normal. Embrace it, and use it as the amazing excuse that it is. If someone tries to tell you it’s not real, refer them to this article in the Scientific American or, just stop talking to them.
3. Morning sickness
My understanding is that this depends more on the mother than the number of babies, so you may be in luck there. It could be the only part of your pregnancy which isn’t exaggerated by the higher order of your pregnancy. On the recommendation of a friend, I started taking my prenatal vitamin in the morning, and I got the gummy kind so I could suck on it while I was convincing myself to get out of bed. I also kept an apple, banana, or orange by my bed, and I’d try to eat it first thing in the morning. Ask your doctor and go to all the forums!
4. Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome
If you’re interested, we have a really long piece about the medical aspects of TTTS coming in another post. Mostly, this is what you need to know: Sometimes twins share a placenta and in those cases, one baby can hog more than their fair share of nutrients and blood, which seems like it’d only be bad for the other baby, but it’s actually not that great for both. Don’t worry though! It happens in less than 10% of cases, and if you do wind up with TTTS, your doctors will give you the info you need on available treatment options. There are some studies out of the UK which indicate that higher consumption of protein reduces TTTS risk, as does drinking a lot of water. So, aim for 100 oz of water and 100 g of protein, but stress NOT! Stress and high levels of stress hormones aren’t going to help, either. Chicken has 8 g of protein per ounce, cottage cheese has 15 g per serving, greek yogurt has 12 g. You can do this! I used my fitbit app and entered what I was eating every day in order to assure myself that I was doing it well. You can set goals and track your consumption over time, which is almost as great as the pregnancy settings themselves — though they cost more.
5. Twin Disappearance or Disappearing Twin Syndrome
20% of twin pregnancies turn into singleton pregnancies during the first trimester. There will be a long post about the medical aspects of this posted elsewhere, but know this: there’s nothing you can do about it, it just something that happens and isn’t any fault of your own. We took the route of not telling anyone we were pregnant until we were at 12 weeks and confidently knew both of our babies were sticking this thing out! Obviously, if you’re comfortable talking about Disappearing Twin Syndrome, tell your friends and family whenever you’re ready to!
6.The Sonogram to Date the Pregnancy
You’ve probably had this. That was intense, right?!
7. No More Caffeine
This doubles your risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, so avoid it as soon as you find out. It also inhibits your absorption of calcium. Most doctors say it’s fine in the second and third trimester, though, so there’s hope yet.
8. Baby Registry
As soon as you start telling people you’re pregnant with multiples, they are going to start asking what you want and need, and it’s wonderful! If you don’t have a good answer, though, they will just buy you whatever they want. We recommend using the Amazon Baby Registry, which has a TON of awesome features. But whatever you, start early!
9. You’ll Start Showing Early!
Everybody else won’t start to notice until after the first trimester, but with twins, you’ll notice your belly much earlier than that! Your pants will start to feel tight, your hips will widen, and you may notice that your breasts are hurting a lot as they get bigger. I recommend low panel maternity jeans ASAP, a belly band if you want, stretchy pants, and SOFT SPORTS BRAS. The belly band won’t work past the first trimester for many twin pregnancies because the hips widen earlier with all the hormones and the weight gain; you do gain at least a third more than singletons. But, this will help you stretch out the clothes from pre-pregnancy so you have to buy fewer seasons of items.
10. Buying Maternity Clothes
BUY THEM AT LEAST ONE SIZE UP. By the seventh month, you will be at least as big as many of your friends are when they give birth. Even though maternity clothes CLAIM to work for the entire term of your pregnancy, that’s just a lie with twins. I bought a bunch of things in size small, and regretted it when my stomach started peeking out at week 28. Don’t be me. If you want things that will last after your pregnancy, make use of the yoga-pants-for-work craze and LuLaRoe leggings with dresses, tunics, and comfortable shoes. Speaking of which: laceable shoes are great because they will stretch with your feet (which will definitely be getting bigger, you’re carrying two), but slipons are also great because you can get them on without help. I’d make sure you have a pair of each. Get as much as you can used. When you trawl craigslist for batch baby clothes, ask the mom if she has any maternity clothes she wants to get rid of as well.
11. Weight gain
As you’ve read in your What To Expect-style book, you’re going to gain between 35-60 pounds with twins. Don’t worry! If you nurse or pump, you’re going to lose that fast. More to come in another post.
12. Bi-weekly doctor visits
With a monochorionic, diamniotic pregnancy,(if that sounds like gibberish to you, read about different types of twins here!) expect ultrasounds to check growth every four weeks and ultrasounds to check amniotic fluid every four weeks, so you’ll be in the office every two weeks for about an hour. Get used to peeing in a cup and having your cervix checked. If your partner is coming with you, give them a heads up that you’ll be stripping to the waist and having your cervix probed manually. It can be surprising to the fella.
13. Folic acid and DHA
You need a lot of both of these, but don’t stress yourself out about it if you can’t eat much, just make sure to take your prenatal vitamin. However, many of the women I’ve talked to have confirmed my experience: salads of baby greens with very light dressings are tonic to morning sickness. If you can, eat as much pregnancy safe seafood as you can for the DHA. Seaweed can also be a great source for Omega-3’s. Know that you are growing two baby brain stems in the first few weeks, so if you’re right at that point, GO EAT SOME GREEN VEGETABLES. Orange ones are also great. That said, don’t go crazy or feel bad if you are not eating two salads every day. Johns Hopkins has found a link between excess folate and autism. So, eat a moderate amount, don’t avoid it, and don’t stress yourself.
14. Exercise, But Not Your Core!
Don’t exercise your core! Creating micro tears in your abdominal wall leads to complications later. You can do squats with your legs, swim, prenatal yoga, and get on the elliptical. You can do whatever you were doing before, except for exercising your abdominal wall. Talk to your doc or a trainer for anything else.
15. Getting a doctor
This is different with twins. You need a doctor and a hospital with experience in multiple births, and you should get a surgeon with experience in complicated cesareans. Make sure your doctor and you are on the same page about how highly you prioritize a vaginal birth. You will be meeting with this person every two weeks, so you should get someone you like and with whom you are very comfortable. You may have to switch providers, which will feel challenging at the beginning, but seriously, you need a doctor with twin experience and surgical experience.
16. Charlie Horses
You may have read that this happens later in pregnancy, but with twins, because of the hormones or perhaps the sapping of nutrients into your uterus, you will likely start getting Charlie horses in your legs earlier. The only solution is to drink more water, eat bananas (potassium helps), and stretch your calf by pushing your toes against the footboard of your bed and pushing as hard as you can.
You will have a lot of it! Your digestion is slowing down, and your intestines are moving further away from your butt. I’m sorry to tell you, it’s going to get worse. With the space your two babies are going to be filling up, your gas is going to get terrible sometimes, and it’s going to start earlier. I’m sorry!