Congratulations on your multiple pregnancy! Receiving the news that you’re expecting multiple babies can result in a range of emotions.
While for some it’s an exciting surprise, for others, it’s a shock – and can take some time to get used to. It’s important to know that if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stressed or sad, then you’re not alone. Others describe feeling angry or even a sense of grief.
It’s a rollercoaster of emotions…. from highs of excitement to feeling scared and unhappy about having twins.I grieved the loss of a straightforward pregnancy and birth.
Coping with a multiple pregnancy
Physical health during pregnancy
Multiple pregnancies can take a heavy toll on your physical health and wellbeing. You may have a higher likelihood of experiencing Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness), preeclampsia and/or gestational diabetes.
Everything was doubled: the morning sickness was doubled, the pain was doubled. I feel the stress of it all was doubled. I love my babies and I’d do it again in a heart beat if it meant I’d have them, but I get anxiety even thinking of my pregnancy.
Mental health during pregnancy
Because multiple pregnancies are considered high risk, expecting multiple babies can be a stressful and anxious time. Research has shown that rates of antenatal anxiety and depression in multiple pregnancies are much higher than for those expecting a singleton.
My mental health seemed to struggle with the fact that I wanted to be able to do what I felt like I could but my body couldn’t keep up.
I experienced worry, anxiety and later PTSD. I never knew if my boys would make it so I couldn’t celebrate my pregnancy.
When it comes to managing heightened anxiety, many who’ve been through it highlight the importance of “not searching Dr Google” and seeking reputable information from your maternity care providers.
Use information to guide you but remember worse case information that you need to be told is not necessarily linked to your specific pregnancy. Follow your doctor’s advice and then relax and enjoy the ride.
If you find that you’re struggling to cope during pregnancy, don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help. Seeking support early will help you manage during pregnancy and arm you with strategies for after your babies arrive.
I didn’t realise I was suffering as I thought it was normal to feel anxiety, lack sleep and be stressed because I was growing two humans. But someone talking to me could have helped.
I felt judged, that if I told people I was anxious people would think I didn’t appreciate the miracle of twins or they just didn’t understand.
If you are looking for professional support in your local area, you can search the e-COPE Directory.
Here you can search for individual practitioners or perinatal mental health services with expertise in mental health in pregnancy and when having a baby.
Building your village
Expecting multiples is a unique journey and one only those who’ve been through can really understand. You can start building your village during pregnancy by connecting with other parents of multiples and/or joining online support groups.
I got so sick of hearing people say ‘I’m glad it’s you not me.’
It’s important to note, however, that while connecting with others during pregnancy will be a great support to some, others may find it can be more anxiety-provoking. Do what works for you – remember, you can always connect with parents of multiples when your babies are born.
It’s frustrating that a multiple birth pregnancy isn’t acknowledged as often being much more difficult than a singleton amongst society and peers.
A great way to build your village is to check out the local support services in your area.
The e-COPE Directory also lists support service – including all of the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA) groups located across the country. Find your local AMBA group and other support services today, and start building your village of support.
Preparing for birth
While most women pregnant with multiples will give birth via a c-section, it’s OK to ask questions of your maternity care providers and advocate for what you want. While giving birth vaginally may not be possible, many women describe feeling dismissed by their doctors and not given a chance to discuss and understand their options.
I personally struggled coming to terms with not being “allowed” a natural birth and being pushed for c-section at 38 weeks.
Although I was aware of the possibility of preterm labour and of twins needing care, I think a part of me wasn’t expecting that to happen. I think a better understanding of what it would mean to have babies in the nursery after the birth would have helped deal with the emotional journey.
The hospital talked to us at length about the process of the C-section with regard to our twins and also what would happen afterwards with the NICU. I think that really helped us mentally prepare.
Strategies to help you cope
While expecting multiples can be exhausting, stressful and nerve-wracking, welcoming your babies and watching them grow will be an incredibly special experience.
It’s an absolute miracle to be pregnant with multiples. Embrace and enjoy it – even though it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do it is a true blessing.
Tips from those who’ve been there
Below are some tips provided from parents who have had multiples:
- Pack your hospital bag early – around 25 weeks.
- Don’t forget to document your growing bump with lots of photos.
- “Having a tour of the special care nursery prior to birth really helped.”
- Keep in mind that you may need to go on maternity leave earlier than you had planned, which may have financial implications.
“Swimming was the only real relief. I also slept on ice packs which soothed a little discomfort.”
Read about breastfeeding/ feeding before birth and be prepared to ask people to give you time before they visit.
“Be kind to yourself as your body changes and your bump grows. Don’t compare your bump or weight gain to someone who is pregnant with one baby as it is natural for you to carry heavier considering you are growing multiple babies.”
- Join your local support group with Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA)
Knowing at the end I’d have two beautiful babies really helped.