Expecting multiples can be a wonderful experience. Being prepared is the key to maintaining a healthy outlook. Multiples of America produces an annual pamphlet, Your Multiples and You, which is filled with tips for parenting multiples and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, as well as nutritional and educational information. Click here to locate a parents of multiples club and receive a free copy of Your Multiples and You.
Bedrest During Pregnancy with Multiples
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in July 2015, the most common complication of multiple pregnancy is preterm birth. More than one half of all twins are born preterm. Higher-order multiples are almost always born preterm. Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy may have an increased risk of short-term and long-term health problems, including problems with breathing, eating, and staying warm. Other problems, such as learning and behavioral disabilities, may appear later in childhood or even in adulthood.
Since Multiple birth pregnancies are at risk for preterm birth, bedrest is sometimes prescribed. Bedrest not only can help with preventing preterm labor, but it can help with the potential health risks to the mother as well. Some moms find themselves hospitalized and others find themselves following a modified bedrest plan to help with preventing early labor. By limiting your physical activity, you help to prevent stress on your vital organs, and increase the blood flow to the uterus. Equally important, bedrest relieves pressure from the cervix and may help to keep the uterus from contracting. With the goal of staying off your feet, lying down all day can be difficult when working or taking care of other children or a household. Some women can rest for short periods in the morning and afternoon and do fine, but others will need to limit their activity to lying down all day every day. This may mean quitting work as early as 16 weeks into the pregnancy or working out care for other children and the household with many months to go before delivery.
Also, doctors generally recommend “pelvic rest”, meaning limited sexual activity, to avoid starting up preterm labor. These restrictions obviously affect both parents, financially and emotionally, and need to be discussed and worked out. Bed rest is a real challenge for everyone, and preparation can help make the most of these months of restricted activity. You need to stay mostly on your left side and avoid lying flat on your back. When lying on your back, your very large uterus presses on vital blood vessels and can restrict the flow of blood to the uterus. Some women carrying higher order multiples can expect to visit the physician more often than with a singleton pregnancy, even if things are progressing smoothly.
You and your partner should look for emotional support during this important but stressful time in the pregnancy. A local Multiples of America club can sometimes provide assistance and helpful ideas to manage this stressful time, as many of the club members have experienced what you are going through. Seek help from family, friends, churches and support agencies. It is important to limit the stress during this time, and bedrest is sometimes a method used to give the babies a strong and healthy start.