In order to mentally prepare yourself for the risk of having twins, it is necessary to understand the risks.
Having twins, like most multiple pregnancies, carries a higher risk of complications. Twin pregnancies are six times more likely to be premature or delivered before 37 weeks. Given that preemies are born before their bodies and organ systems have fully matured, they tend to have low birthweights — less than 5.5 pounds — making them especially vulnerable to disease and infection.
Pregnant women expecting twins are also more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, anemia and may be at risk of placental abruption, or early detachment of the placenta. The risk of vanishing twin syndrome is also common during the first trimester. This occurs when more than one fetus is detected but eventually disappears due to miscarriage.
A 2009 study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that moms of multiples were 43% more likely to have postpartum depression than mothers of single babies. Knowing that this is a possibility, pregnant women can begin to minimize the risk of anxiety and depression before giving birth.
Since women with a past history of depression or postpartum depression, alcohol or drug abuse, family history of mental illness, or complications during pregnancy are at higher risk for postpartum depression, they should inform their doctor after becoming pregnant that they are at potentially risk and may need treatment during and after the pregnancy.
For most women, pregnancy is already fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Carrying a life inside of you is in an enormous responsibility, therefore, it should not be surprising that for pregnant women expecting twins, the level of stress is that much greater. In order to mentally prepare yourself for the risk of having twins, it is necessary to understand the risks, minimize them and take precautions.
According to Lauren W. Sundheimer, MD, MS, FACOG, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist and board-certified OB/GYN, 25% of twins are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after birth for additional care, therefore, women pregnant with twins can expect be separated from their babies at birth. This means that women expecting twins will need to be mentally ready to temporarily be distanced from their newborns.
For women at risk at postpartum depression, they should discuss with the doctor if they have any signs of depression during pregnancy as well as possible treatment options, such as, counseling, group therapy, or antidepressant medication. Oftentimes, several treatment options may be available concurrently before giving birth.
After the child is born, it is important to continue to follow treatment and to establish a support network of friends and family that can help new moms maintain a healthy sleep schedule, diet and exercise routine. Motherhood can be overwhelming as it is, but with twins, the pressure is inevitably doubled.
Postpartum depression affects 10 to 20% of women worldwide. It is important that women who have given birth to twins immediately follow-up with her doctor if they notice any signs of postpartum depression. The sooner treatment becomes available, the sooner the mother can begin to recover and properly care for her new babies.
Specifically, in terms of postpartum depression, a new medication for treatment was approved last year. Brexanolone, which is administered via infusion over a course of three days, has been found to provide almost immediate relief. It is the first drug to be specifically approved for postpartum depression.
In addition to mental health issues, pregnant women expecting twins should also prepare for the financial cost of caring for two babies rather than one. Most women will find out that they are expecting twins as early as 10 weeks, which will allow them to make financial provisions beforehand. According to personal finance blogger Catherine Alford, it is important to take advantage of any additional work opportunities early in pregnancy when expecting twins as well as to eliminate any unnecessary purchases.
Alford also recommends avoiding impulse buying and leaving items such as matching outfits and high-end baby items to family and friends. In terms of insurance, employers often allow the possibility of contributing to a flexible spending account, which lets parents set aside money on a pre-tax basis to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, which are often higher with the twins.
In the end, pregnant women expecting twins shouldn’t be overwhelmed by statistics or even the complicated experiences of friends and family. They should simply take steps to prepare for all possibilities and take time to enjoy the wonder of bringing two babies into the world.
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