In my first twin post we talked a little bit about choosing your care provider carefully (or deciding you may not want one!), this week we are going to dive into best practices for a healthy, full term twin pregnancy.
Eating for THREE! Your body still needs all of its nutrition, and each twin's placenta needs optimal nourishment. Typically, when the placenta isn't fully nourished that's when you start to see complications start creeping up. We don't want that! If you've chosen a homebirth midwife, a lot of them begin placing restrictions and ultimatums when complications start showing up.
Before we go any farther, I need to remind you that I am not a licensed medical professional, and I am not endorsed by any three letter entities. What I share is based on my research and experience, I highly recommend you research every decision you make!
What I found to be the most helpful information came from three principles of the Brewer Pregnancy Diet.
These three things are very important to any pregnancy. Your blood volume increases by over 60% during pregnancy, real salt helps keep the fluid in your veins where it belongs. Swelling isn't extra fluid, it's misplaced fluid. Real salt is also full of micronutrients your body needs. Pink Himalayan salt and Celtic Grey salt are examples of real salt. Table salt/sodium= bad! Real Salt= very good.
Protein! The Brewer Pregnancy diet suggests 80g of protein daily for a singleton pregnancy and 40 additional grams daily for each baby. This lands us at 120g for a twin pregnancy. Protein is essential, make sure you are varying the source so you are getting all of the amino acids. Vegetarians/Vegans- Chia seeds and hemp seeds are your BFF! This is admittedly very difficult to achieve. Between not feeling hungry and literally not having room in my abdomen for a meal, I quickly found small meals with protein as the center point to be the key. Another trick, I used a good nutrition app to help me keep track of my intake. It kept track of protein but also had separate tabs for micro and macro nutrients, so I could keep an eye on my vitamin levels.
As far as staying hydrated, you have to put in maximum effort here. Some ideas that are more satisfying than plain water include: bone broth, sole water, and real fruit juice without added sugar. You can also add chia seeds to juice to get a boost of protein in with your drink! Drink to thirst while making sure you are getting enough!
Here is a link to more information about twin pregnancy from a nutritional standpoint- www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id32.html
Here is a direct link to the page where they discuss the twin "diet" www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/id9.html
The Brewer "diet" is a lot of food and some times difficult to decipher. There are facebook groups for it, those can be rather helpful.
Another newer resource that provides great information is the book Real Food For Pregnancy by Lily Nichols. (link-www.amazon.com/dp/0986295043/?coliid=IS6131L71OGZ5&colid=3HMM9QIR0SGX2&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it )
She also has a follow up book: Real Food for Gestational Diabetes. I highly recommend you check them out!
Nutrition aside, twin pregnancy can be very hard. I've come across some people who have had no indication of twins until they were surprised at a 20 week ultrasound or even at birth.
I myself just had symptoms that were very different from previous pregnancies. With pregnancies 1-4, my only "symptom" was heartburn. Almost immediately following conception up until birth. With pregnancy #5, the twins, everything was different. A little nauseous. A little light-headed. More tired than I had ever felt. Something was definitely different for me. Just passed the first trimester I began to have shortness of breath after any activity, even with things as simple as going up the stairs. The anticipated heartburn followed shortly after, with a vengeance.
Some find their twin pregnancy not much difficult than a singleton pregnancy. Some stop working around 20 weeks while others continue to work up to 38 weeks! Above all your nutrition will be a major key in your health, make sure you keep yourself and your placentas nourished!
Congratulations! If you landed here, it's likely because you just received a major shock while at an ultrasound appointment. Let's commiserate for a moment.
When I was freshly pregnant, around 6 weeks, I was explaining to my 3 year old who had just weaned that he could not touch my boobs anymore. Attempting to do that serious-conversation-with-a-toddler-who-is-only-half-listening thing, I told him about the baby in my belly and how my boobs were extra sore now. Oliver had begun rolling around on the bed by now. He stopped, looked at me and said, "there's a brother in there!"
"And a sister!"
If you could imagine, I just stared with my mouth hanging open for a minute. Our previous two births were freebirths and for the first time, we were planning to forgo any and all modern pregnancy interventions. I came down and told my husband what had been said with a "why would he say that" kind of attitude. We exchanged glances, semi-concerned over how I was having different pregnancy symptoms that I had with my other 4 pregnancies. We decided to go to a local ultrasound boutique to see if Oliver's statement held any truth. We didn't mention the toddler's assumption, we just went in for the appointment as I assume most people do. The ultrasound tech set the doppler down and one lettle amniotic sac and squirmy, tiny baby popped up on the screen. IMMEDIATE RELIEF. Ok, whew. I started to relax bit and reassure myself that this would be ok. Our short ten minute scan was drawing to a close. The tech said something along the lines of "I'm just going to..."
Then she gasped.
Then I gasped.
Surprise! Then there were two. Separate amniotic sacs, separate placentas, two separate babies.
If you are new to the twin game, let me help you differentiate the types of twins really quick, because no matter what (girl/girl, girl/boy, boy/boy, blonde/brunette, brown eyes/blue eyes, curly hair/straight hair, VERY different skin tones, you will be asked if they are identical)
Di/Di: Two separate everything- amnion, chorion, placenta. The egg split late in conception OR there were two eggs dropped that month. Di/Di twins still have about a 30% chance of being identical (those are the ones who shared an egg and it split), despite what some physicians will tell you. Di/Di twins from separate eggs are literally siblings that happened to be conceived and born at the same time. Actually, they can be conceived separately. Look up superfetation. It's a fascinating thing.
Mo/Di: One chorion, one placenta, two amnion. These identical twins had an egg that split mid-conception. They share their placenta but have separate sacs within the outer sac.
Mo/Mo: One of everything (except the babies!) One amnion, one chorion, one placenta. This is what most non-twin folk think every twin is. This egg split early in conception.
Another very important thing to note- you will soon hear everyone's negative stories, so brace yourself!
Now that we went over that, you have a very important question to answer to yourself that will determine a very wide range of things over the next several months.
What kind of pregnancy experience do I want, and where and how do I want to birth them?
Your decision here will affect a multitude of things and likely how your pregnancy will go. Coming from a freebirth mindset, the decision to hire a midwife was difficult to make, but my mental health was not in a great state and that was what my family and I needed at that time. You may find great comfort in knowing that many women go on to have successful freebirths or midwife attended homebirths with twins. Many others go on to have vaginal hospital births. Some opt for a c-section, or a provider that does not give them an option to birth vaginally.
Maybe you already have a care provider, but need to rethink if they are the right one for your newfound circumstances. Ultimately, this is a very important decision but it can be made again down the road if you find yourself unhappy with your care.
Carefully evaluate your health, needs and wants to make your decision. I truly despise the saying, "a healthy baby is all that matters" but of course that is important.
This may prove to be a difficult task to take on. My suggestion is to interview around! Listen to the way they speak, the precautions or policies they follow, how they respond to your choices, or potential choices, and their being open to acknowledging this is YOUR experience. Believe it or not, you do still have choices when it comes to having twins. Use your best judgement, find the best care provider for you and your situation (even if thats you!), and enjoy your twin pregnancy!
I'll be back soon for more on my twin pregnancy/birth, our early postpartum, and how I was affected by Postpartum Depression.
Finding a placenta encapsulation specialist in your area might be simple, or very difficult! We put together a small list of ways you might be able to find one in your area.
1. Check with local doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, midwives, and family centered chiropractors. Placenta specialists usually connect with these types of businesses because they offer complimentary services.
2. Check listings of placenta encapsulation certifying agencies. This will likely get you names, but many placenta specialists choose not to certify so it will not be an inclusive list. Some certifying agencies are: IPPA, APPA, and Brilliant Birth Academy.
3. Ask in your social media circles! You would be surprised at how many new mothers are choosing to encapsulate their placentas. If you friends or mom group companions cannot produce a local name, they might know someone who does!
4. In the event that you do not have someone near you who does placenta encapsulation, reach out to a specialist in a nearby city. There are ways that placentas can be shipped, or they might be willing to drive outside their service area for an additional fee.
One thing to be wary of is someone in a different profession offering to do your placenta for free. While it is not difficult to encapsulate on your own there are important guidelines to uphold to ensure you do not unintentionally contaminate the placenta! Placenta specialists receive special training on bloodborne pathogens, time and temperature controls, how to check for spoilage, when it is not safe to encapsulate, medical or medicinal contradictions, guidelines for dosage, etc. You only get one placenta per birth (unless you are having multiples, but you get the idea!), be sure to entrust it to a properly trained professional.
If you would like to contact us to help you find someone in your area, we would be happy to assist you.