Having one beautiful blessing is amazing, but being pregnant with multiples is over the top. It's bigger and crazier from the very beginning right along to the birth — but in some ways, it's the exact same as what other mothers go through.
Even before the pregnancy test turns positive, a mom of multiples could notice that she feels sicker, and her bump can be super sized even before the first trimester is over. Things get bigger and more intense, from the doctor's visits to the ultrasounds to the many complications that can come up with twins, triplets or more. Prepping to bring home a lot of babies from the hospital can also be an even bigger financial burden, and it might even mean that a family has to find a new home or car so that everyone can fit.
In the end, a mom might have multiple babies, but a singleton can worry just as much since there are only so many hours in a day. The experience is different but yet it's got all the same elements everyone goes through to become a mom. Here are 15 things about carrying multiples that are completely different (and five that are the same).
20 Hormone Surges Exponentially
The first way that a baby impacts his mom during pregnancy is by the surging of the hormones that happens in pregnancy. In fact, the hormones account for everything from the emotional ups and downs to the morning sickness and exhaustion that hit in the first trimester. And pregnancy tests work by picking up on the amount of hormones that have risen in the woman.
For a multiple mom, those hormones shoot off like you can't imagine. That means that pregnancy can be detected on a test earlier, and that the mom could experience some extreme symptoms very early on in the pregnancy. While all moms have to deal with extra hormones during pregnancy, it's nothing compared to what moms of multiples go through.
19 Bumping Along
The bigger the baby, the bigger the baby bump. While a first-time singleton mom might not look pregnant until she is four or five months along, by that point a mom of multiples might look full term. There are a lot of factors that go into the size of the bump, including heredity and how much weight the mom gains, but you can bet that a mom of twins or more is going to get bigger quicker than most moms with just one baby on board.
It's hard to imagine it, but just look at a picture of Kate Gosselin before she had her sextuplets. The bump can get pretty large depending on the multiples, so a mom needs to expect some stretching. But just look at Danielle Busby, the mom from "Outdaughtered," to see that it is possible to get back in shape after the birth.
18 Sicker Than Expected
Lots of moms go through morning sickness. But moms of multiples might feel like the entire world is spinning when they are pregnant. The first trimester can be terrible — and it can start within a week of conception instead of the usual six or eight week mark when most moms of singletons will experience morning sickness.
We've already mentioned that the hormone surge can be a big problem in starting off the morning sickness, but some moms of multiples can deal with it for a long time. The mom needs to give more blood and oxygen to her babies, so she can feel dizzy pretty easily even in the second trimester. She could feel sick for much of the pregnancy, thanks to the many miracles growing inside her.
17 Due Date Difference
As soon as a woman gets a positive on her pregnancy test, she runs to a computer to do a due date calculator. While the doctor might give her a slightly altered date when she goes to her first doctor's appointment, it's fun to figure out when the expect the baby's birth. Most moms don't actually give birth on that date, but most of the time it happens a week or so on either side — unless you are a mom of multiples.
Due dates are calculated very differently for moms based on how many babies are on board. For example, a twin mom is more likely to give birth around the 35 or 36 week mark, as do triplet moms. With more babies on board, the risks increase, and doctors give a goal for the birth, hoping that the mom can make it to the 32 week mark, although many multiples come earlier than that and have to spend a while in the NICU. The expectations are a lot different when it comes to the baby's due date.
16 Eating For Two Or More
When a woman is pregnant with a singleton, she can be surprised at how few extra calories she needs to consume for her baby to be healthy. She doesn't need to eat for two, and instead can add on about 300 calories a day. With more babies on board, though, she has to multiply that number.
Some moms relish the idea of being allowed to indulge in cravings and extra calories when they are pregnant, but when you are pregnant with twins, triplets or higher order multiples, it can be really difficult to add on the extra calories. Some moms have to eat basically around the clock — and their babies take up so much room that they don't have the space in their stomach to eat all that they are expected. It's not as easy to eat for three or more as you would expect.
15 Even Higher Risk
There are many reasons that moms can be categorized high risk, including health issues and the baby's development. But when there is more than one baby, the risk is heightened, and it gets even riskier the more babies that are on born.
For twins, the most risk comes when they are identical. If the babies share a placenta or a sac, they face the risk of some major complications, but even when they are fraternal, things can go wrong. When there are more babies, the potential for placenta issues, growth problems and more can grow exponentially. One of the biggest risks comes with prematurity, since multiples practically never make it to the 37-week mark.
High risk pregnancies mean lots of doctor's appointments and ultrasounds, so at least that means the babies will be well looked after. The risks are high, but so are the rewards.
14 Every Day She's Waddling
Somewhere around the third trimester, most pregnant women start to waddle. That's because the baby puts a lot of pressure on the pelvis and that can affect the mom-to-be's gait. It gets worse when the baby drops. But when there is more than one baby in there, the waddle can get very distinct very early. It can feel like watching a penguin get through the day.
The waddle can be a real issue for moms of multiples. They can really struggle to get to the other side of the room, and it can start a lot earlier, maybe even in the second trimester. The waddle happens because it hurts to have a bowling ball sitting in your abdomen, but with multiples it might be two or three or four — that's certainly no fun.
13 Preparing For A Full House
The preparation for one baby can be pretty overwhelming, but when there is more than one, it can be even more stressful — and way more expensive. Moms of twins, triplets and higher order multiples need to multiply the number of carseats, cribs, bottles and clothes. And even more than that, sometimes bringing home a lot of babies means that you have to upgrade your car or even your house to make room.
This is definitely a time to rely on family and friends who might be excited to mark some things off of your registry. And since many moms end up on bed rest, they might need help with setting up the nursery too. It can take a lot of time and money to prepare for a full house.
12 Consuming Enough Energy
When their babies are relying on them for their nutrition, a mom has to be sure to eat healthy and add on some calories for the baby to consume. In truth, it can be harder for moms of singletons to refrain from overindulging, since it's only a few hundred extra calories that the baby needs at the beginning. An extra yogurt or a handful of grapes can make the difference in the first trimester. But when you have a lot of babies in your belly, you have to multiply that number and figure out how to stuff yourself.
Since the babies take up a lot of room, it can be harder to get everything in. Many moms end up drinking Ensure drinks that are high in calories. By the end of the pregnancy, if you have triplets, you are looking at doubling your regular amount of calories, and that can certainly be a big challenge that singleton moms never experience.
11 Early Labor Scares
A number of moms experience the terror of early labor, no matter how many babies they are carrying. But with moms of multiples, it's far more likely to happen. The amazing thing is that any baby is considered viable at the 24-week mark and may be able to survive the delivery with medical intervention in the NICU, although there are far fewer short-term and long-term issues the longer the baby or babies remain in the womb.
We've already mentioned that the due date isn't really possible for moms with multiples. Even twins are likely to be delivered around 36 or 37 weeks and be considered full term. When the mom goes into labor really early, doctors may try to stop it or delay it to give steroid shots to help the lungs develop. Even if it's one more day in the womb, that can mean better lung development, more strength, better intestines and eyes.
10 Ultrasound Over and Over Again
For most moms, the 20-week ultrasound is a really big deal because it's likely the one and only time they will get a good luck at the baby in the womb during the pregnancy, unless they pay extra for a 4-D ultrasound. But moms of twins or more will find themselves getting a lot of ultrasounds through nine months.
Most moms do get a first trimester ultrasound, but it's usually pretty boring since you can't see much other than a little peanut in a sac. But if the doctor spots more than one sac, things can get really exciting. Twins and more will likely be checked on via ultrasound several times during the first trimester, and they will get a lot of long appointments during the pregnancy. Most moms of multiples have appointments with a regular OB and a specialist, so the number of ultrasounds is doubled or more. That can be really exciting each time you get to get a closer look.
9 C-Section Situation
While many moms these days worry about the idea of ending up with a C-section. On the other hand, most moms of twins or more know going in that they are likely to need to surgery when it is time to give birth. There are a few doctors around who will allow a mom to attempt a natural delivery of twins, but there are a lot of risks of cord entanglement or the second baby flipping to the breech position.
Many times hospitals practice deliveries of higher order multiples, since there will be so many medical personnel in the room, including nurses and neonatologists. There are extra risks for a C-section, but most doctors believe that surgery is the safer option for the mom and the babies.
8 Complications Multiply
While a mom of multiples is awaiting the time when her babies are healthiest for delivery, there are a lot of complications that can arise. The possibilities are multiplied for a mom of twins, triplets or more, and that is why so many babies are born early in that situation. The mom is more likely to develop high blood pressure or the more severe case of preeclampsia, and she is also more likely to have gestational diabetes, which can complicate things when the babies are born.
In the case of identical twins, there is a possibility of twin to twin transfusion syndrome, where one baby gets all of the nutrients and the other baby doesn't get any. That can be very dangerous for both babies, and while there is a surgery that might be able to help, the complication might necessitate an early delivery. All of these complications can be scary, but they are all too real for moms of multiples.
7 The Dreaded Question: "How Did This Happen?"
All moms get some strange questions when they are pregnant — somehow, strangers think that it's OK to get really personal when they see a baby bump. But only moms of multiples have to deal with women who think that they can ask about how the baby was conceived.
The truth is that there are plenty of twins conceived naturally, and some triplets and quadruplets have come along that way. But the first thing that people think of when they see a mom with a bunch of babies on board is that she must have gone through fertility treatments. They will even ask if the babies are natural, as if they are science experiments. It can be weird and uncomfortable on a level that moms of singletons could never understand.
6 More Babies = Smaller Babies
Occasionally, a mom will give birth to twins that are 8 pounds each, but most of the time, a mom of multiples is expecting to give birth to teeny tiny babies. Part of that is because of the high incidence of early births, but it is also because of an increased risk of fetal growth restriction, which means that the baby doesn't grow to be as big as a singleton for its gestational age.
The average singleton weighs 7 pounds, and sometimes that happens for twins. On average, though, twins are born at about 5 and a half pounds each. An average triplet comes in at 4 pounds at birth, whereas a quad mom can expect an average 3 pounds each. All of this depends on a lot, but the smaller the baby, the longer he is likely to need to be cared for in the NICU, and unfortunately, most twins, triplets and higher order multiples will end up needing some care in the specialized unit.
5 The Same: Just As Much Worry
While there are more things to worry about, the truth is that a mom of twins and triplets worries about the same amount as a mom of a singleton. That's because there are the same amount of hours in a day and periods of unrest. Even women who are going through a low risk pregnancy spend lots of time worrying about what can go wrong. They agonize over the baby's development, worry about going into labor early and fret over how to prepare for parenthood.
Even though pregnancy hormones are at sharper levels for moms of multiples, it doesn't make them more likely to suffer from pregnancy anxiety. They have a lot more risks and complications — and two or three or more ties as many babies to worry about. But a mother's worry can only take up so much space, and she can be assured that a singleton mom spends just as much time awake at night worrying as she does.
4 The Same: People Are Rude Either Way
We've already mentioned how strangers can say the most ridiculous things, including asking twin and triplet moms if they conceived "naturally." But multiples moms haven't cornered the market on creepy sayings from strangers. Some pretty rude things come out of people's mouths either way.
One of the most notorious things that people say to women when they see their baby bump is "are you sure it's not twins?" At least the twin moms can say yes, while the singleton moms just have to stand there and feel judged as if their bump is too big. No mom-to-be should have to stand for the rudeness, but unfortunately, it happens to all of us.
3 The Same: Pregnancy Experience
No two pregnancies are alike, just like no two twin pregnancies are alike and no two quadruplet pregnancies are alike. While there may be a big difference in a triplet pregnancy and a singleton one in some ways, the truth is that the experience is a bit hard to compare no matter how many babies are on board.
Some women experience morning sickness; most deal with exhaustion; some have a lot of anxiety and others go through extreme nesting. Cravings can be tortuous for some and no big deal for others. There are worries either way and family and financial issues no matter what. Moms of triplets or quintuplets could be surprised at how alike their experience is compared to a singleton. In the end, it's hard to anticipate whether you are having one baby or four.
2 The Same: Postpartum Recovery
After a mom has her baby or babies, she has to deal with the recovery — that's true whether there is one child or many. The experience is a little unique for everybody, yet it's all kind of the same. A mom who has twins naturally isn't likely to have any more damage than a woman who just had one baby.
Most multiples moms have C-sections, and the recovery is pretty text book for one baby or more. The mom might have a little more weight to lose, although a singleton mom is more likely to have gained more than the recommended amount of weight than a mom of multiples. And a multiples mom is more likely to deal with the separation of her abdominals, so she might take a while to get her core back in shape. Either way, the postpartum period isn't pretty, no matter how many babies were born.
1 The Same: A Mother's Love
A mother's love is infinite, and while she may not imagine having room in her heart for more than one kid, a mom of multiples will soon learn that it's just the same as having one baby — your love will develop for each child, no matter how many.
A mom of multiples may have to divide her time and budget out enough money for her children's expenses, but she doesn't have to worry about not having enough love to go around to all of her babies. Just like a singleton mom, it might not be an immediate connection to her children, but she will find that she has an endless capacity for love for all of the little ones that she is blessed with.
References: Parents, Cleveland Clinic, Women's Health, Scary Mommy