These days, it’s more common for moms-to-be to be breathing deeply into a downward dog in prenatal yoga class than taking it easy at home with their feet up. But an estimated 20 percent of expectant mothers are still put on bed rest during their pregnancies, despite evidence that it may do more harm than good.
Beth’s sister is pregnant with twins and wants a vaginal birth. Beth says, “It seems like an uphill battle” because she has to labor in an operating room and have an epidural right from the start of labor. Beth wants to know if delivering twins is riskier than delivering a single baby, if twins are more fragile and if all this OR the epidural business is really necessary.
“During my second pregnancy, I knew what to expect and what kind of mother I wanted to strive to be.” Vera M. Hourani, Glendale, Calif.
In the past, most women who were pregnant with twins were advised to gain 35 pounds to 45 pounds, regardless of their prepregnancy size. But more recent guidelines from the Institute of Medicine are individualized to give twins a greater chance to be born healthy to a healthy mother.
"The newer weight-gain guidelines are tailored to your prepregnancy body mass index [BMI]," says Susanne Tout, R.D., L.D., IBCLC, clinical program coordinator and dietitian at the Texas Children's Hospital Fetal Center Program for Multiples in Houston.
The twin birth rate in the United States is close to 1 in 31, a nearly 40 percent increase since the early 1980s.
That’s because there are growing numbers of older moms (hormonal changes are believed to be responsible for the release of more than one egg at ovulation) and more successful fertility treatments.
Fit Pregnancy has always viewed Sean Daneshmand, M.D., a high-risk OB-GYN in San Diego, as our own personal hero. An advisory board member to the magazine, he puts in countless hours reviewing articles and guiding us in topics that need attention.
We're not alone, apparently, in our appreciation for this amazing doctor: He's been named a CNN Hero for his work in establishing Miracle Babies, a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance to families with babies in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Twin births have increased 70 percent in the past three decades. Here, three moms of multiples share their pregnancy and birth experiences.
“I was excited, but I knew that increased risk came with carrying more than one baby.”
Jennifer Busk, Chicago
The treatments themselves don’t make a pregnancy high risk; the medical issues that often cause female infertility, such as diabetes, endometriosis, fibroids or simply being older, may. (“Male factor” issues are responsible for the infertility approximately 40 percent of the time, but treatment is often the same.)
However, up to 40 percent of such pregnancies result in twins. These pregnancies carry a three to six times higher risk for problems, such as high blood pressure, preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.
Every week we seem to deliver at least one set of twins at my hospital. A couple of weeks ago we had three. Two sets were delivered vaginally—scheduled inductions; one was delivered by scheduled cesarean section. Those twins are a lot of trouble. Throughout pregnancy there's twice as much to worry about. Are they growing properly? Is their growth relatively symmetrical? Is one twin huge and the other tiny? How's the placenta (or placentas) holding up? How about contractions? Carrying two babies annoys the heck out of the uterus.