Twins: Twice the Effort, Twice the Joy and Twice the Nutrition You Need

Older Expectant Mothers and Expecting Twins

Special attention needs to be paid to older expectant mothers and women expecting twins. This is because there are high risks of premature births, toxemia and deformities. To ensure that this group of pregnant women undergoes a smooth pregnancy and deliver twins successfully, the following lifestyle and precautions are to be taken.

Problems Faced by Older Expectant Mothers

twins

Based on a medical view point, the category of ‘Older expectant mothers’ defines pregnant women who are above 35 years of age. Older expectant women, especially if this is their first pregnancy, will require more attention. The human body begins to degrade slowly after 35 years of age, hence, the burden on the body of women attempting conception at that age is much heavier compared to a woman in her twenties.

The risks of miscarriage or premature births in older expectant mothers are twice of an average person; risks of birth defects in children such as Down syndrome are nine times higher than that of the general population; chances of giving birth to underweight or overweight newborns are also significantly higher than a woman in her twenties. The occurrence of pregnancy complications such as hypertension, gestosis, gestational diabetes, placental abruption and other problems are also much higher in older expectant mothers. Also, birth canal tends to be tighter during delivery and a prolonged childbirth may have adverse effects on the fetus. Therefore, women above 35 years of age are required to undergo extra examinations such as genetic diseases; deformities risk evaluation and consultation before conceiving. This is particularly important for women with a family history of hypertension and diabetes.

Blood pressure checks tend to be done regularly, but it may not be the case for blood sugar level. So if you may have a hereditary condition, be sure to inform your doctor so he will be able to make arrangements for you to undergo appropriate examinations.

Recommended Lifestyle for Older Expectant Mothers

1 hour of Nap every Morning and Afternoon

Older expectant women tend to have narrower blood vessels, resulting in a more constricted blood flow to the placenta, which will hinder fetal development.

It is recommended to take an hour nap, lie down and relax the body every morning and afternoon, to facilitate smooth blood flow to the placenta. It is also advisable to lie on your left side.

Light Diet

Salty food places an additional burden on the heart and increases blood pressure. Furthermore, the body will require extra water intake to maintain a healthy concentration of salt in body fluids, which will cause severe swelling and increase the risk of gestosis. Avoid consuming processed and fast food with high sodium content. It is highly recommended to have a diet consisting mainly of fish and vegetables.

Weight Management

Older expectant mothers should try to rest more in order to maintain stability in their body. Pregnancy results in an increase in basal body temperature, metabolism, and an additional intake of 500 calories a day. Without regular light exercises, this extra intake of food will lead to an increase in body weight and obesity, putting the expectant woman at higher risk of toxemia and birth complications.

Problems of Expecting Twins

1 in every 80 pregnant women is expecting twins, and this number is gradually increasing. 30% of twins are identical, and the rest are fraternal. Fraternal twins, two different from each other as they originated from two separate eggs and sperms, whereas identical twins look the same during birth as they originated from the same egg and sperm.

Based on statistics, Asians make up the smallest population of twins and Blacks make up the largest population of twins. Additionally, older expectant mothers and women who underwent infertility treatment have a higher tendency of conceiving twins. A mother who is a twin herself also has a higher chance of conceiving twin babies.

Conceiving twins is a more challenging task compared to a normal pregnancy. Women expecting twins will experience a faster growth in uterus size, acute morning sickness, frequent indigestion and more swollen limbs. There is also an increased risk of premature birth, so the doctors will need to pay more attention to mothers expecting twins.

Recommended Lifestyle for Pregnant Women Expecting Twins

Double the Nutritional Intake

Twins are prone to be underweight at birth, so mothers expecting twins are advised to consume more nutrient-rich food, especially those high in protein. Other nutrients such as iron, folic acid, zinc, copper, calcium, vitamins should also be twice more, in accordance with extra nutrition prescribed by the doctor.

Thorough Regular Inspections

Compared to other expectant women, women expecting twins are required to go for more frequent check-ups during the advanced stage of their pregnancy. After 20 weeks of gestation, examinations are required fortnightly, and then weekly after 30 weeks of pregnancy.

Weight Management

In comparison of women pregnant with one fetus, women expecting twins will put on at least 50% more weight. To prevent excessive increment in weight, she needs to pay closer attention to her weight gain from 12 weeks of pregnancy onwards, making sure that she is not gaining more than 700g a week.

Ample Rest and Care

Pregnant women with twins tend to feel more tired than other mothers with one fetus. Hence, she will need more rest, exercise and not overly exert herself. High blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, placental abruption and other pregnancy complications will increase the chances of premature birth, so she will need to pay extra attention and not develop these problems. To prevent premature birth, she should also stay home more often and not stand for a prolonged amount of time, especially in the second half of the pregnancy.

TIP BOX

Placenta Health

The placenta is the place where implantation occurs. After 13 weeks of pregnancy, the placenta villi will be fully developed. The key roles of the placenta are the secretion of hormones, the supply of blood and oxygen, and the excretion of waste from the fetus.

There is one primary vein on the placenta, providing nutrients, oxygen and blood to the fetus. Also, there are two small arteries for the excretion of waste matter and carbon dioxide from the fetus. The size of the placenta grows with the fetus while secreting hormones required for fetal growth and simulation for breast milk. There is a filter on the placenta, which is selective of the substances that pass to the fetus. However, this filtering system is unable to prevent bacterial infections or drugs from being transmitted, which may cause adverse effects in the fetus. Antibodies from the mother’s body will also be passed to the fetus and stay in the fetus’ body for up to six months after the baby has been delivered.

Summing it up, mothers expecting twins should do the necessary healthy diet and perform their doctor’s advises and prescriptions.

Sandra Henderson
 

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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