Twins or multiple pregnancies are actually more common now than ever before! This is due to us now having access to reproductive assistants, including fertility drugs, as well as the fact that more women are having babies later in life, as both of these factors increase the chances of multiple pregnancy.
What is a multiple pregnancy?
A multiple pregnancy simply means that you are having more than one baby – most commonly, twins or triplets.
Twins make up about 98% of multiple pregnancies – with about two thirds of twins being fraternal, and about one in three being identical. Fraternal twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilised and implant themselves in the uterine lining. Since they are the result of two different eggs and sperms, they won’t be identical and can have two different sexes or the same. Fraternal twins will each have their own placenta and amniotic sac.
Identical twins occur when a fertilised egg splits in half, each half shares the same DNA. This means the twins will often look very similar, and share the same characteristics e.g. sex, eye colour or hair colour. Identical twins can share the same placenta and amniotic sac, or they can have their own.
Triplets or higher-order multiples only make up 2% of multiple pregnancies.
How does your body change during a twin or multiple pregnancy?
Twins or multiple pregnancies can often feel quite different from a single pregnancy. More than one baby can make pregnancy symptoms more intense or may start earlier than in a single pregnancy.
Often women who are expecting multiples find they have strong very early pregnancy symptoms like:
- Feeling emotional
- Rapid weight gain
When carrying multiples, you are expected to gain more weight than in a single pregnancy. If you’re carrying multiples you are expected to gain around 16-20kg, compared to 10-15kg in a regular pregnancy. It’s not just the extra weight of the baby – with extra babies comes the extra placentas, amniotic fluid and maternal body fluid.
How does your body change after a twin or multiple pregnancy?
Any pregnancy is a huge journey for your body – but especially with twins or multiple pregnancies. Whether you have had a or vaginal birth, your body has a lot of healing to do in those early weeks.
But on top of that, when you’re pregnant your abdominal muscles will stretch to accommodate your babies – and especially so for twins or multiple pregnancies.
You may also experience abdominal separation, which occurs when your growing uterus in pregnancy causes the 2 parallel muscles of your stomach to separate from each other and is more common in multiple pregnancies. So rather than rushing to the gym or panicking, be patient and kind with yourself as it will take longer for your midsection to return to normal than it does after a single pregnancy.
Is it harder to lose weight after a twin or multiple pregnancy?
One common question or concern after a multiple pregnancy is whether it is harder to lose weight. It may be more difficult to return to your pre-pregnancy body weight after a multiple pregnancy because you would have most likely gained more weight than with a single pregnancy. This just means it may take a bit longer – so give yourself some grace and focus on long-term plans of keeping healthy and well, rather than fixating on getting back your pre-baby bod.
It’s only natural that your body will change during pregnancy – you’ve literally created a new life! And when it comes to multiples, you’ve gone and made 2 (or more) new little people in the space of under nine months… it is mindblowing! So if you’re feeling nervous or disheartened about these new changes, try to focus on just how amazing your body is to be able to go through pregnancy and come out the other side.
Can you speed up the recovery process?
Many of us can relate to giving birth, coming home, falling in love with our little ones, being in awe that our bodies created something so amazing… but still feel the pressure to begin losing weight or to look the way we did pre-pregnancy. Not to mention, postpartum recovery can be really hard – your body is recovering from a major health event.
However, there is no real way to speed up the recovery process other than being kind to yourself, eating well and resting as much as you can. But there are ways to ease your discomfort in those early weeks like using ice around the perineum to help with pain and swelling, as well as doing gentle pelvic floor exercises as early as two days following the birth of your baby – provided there is no increase in pain. Here is a helpful guide created to help you improve your recovery after birth.
Whilst it is normal to feel completely exhausted or uncomfortable for a few weeks after birth, keep an eye out for symptoms like fever, headaches or really heavy vaginal bleeding and contact your doctor if you’re ever unsure.
Having twins or multiples is a huge event for your body and it’s going to take a while before you feel like your old self again. But know that with time, support, patience and a bit of self-love – you’ll soon recover and begin finding your new, evolved self as a parent to twins or multiples. Because your body has done something completely incredible and whilst you may have a few extra stretch marks to show for it, hopefully, you can one day look at them as reminders of how strong you truly are.