Look After Yourself

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What should I do?

Taking care of yourself during a multiples pregnancy starts with eating well – except that little research has been done on what that means for a mother carrying multiples!

So, in the absence of any real science, it’s probably best to aim for healthy, balanced meals in line with standard nutritional advice for pregnant women. You will need to drink plenty of fluid, ideally eight large glasses of water during the day as a minimum. In our part of the world, it is best to drink small sips frequently for maximum hydration. If your pregnancy spans the Middle Eastern summer, or if you spend a lot of time outside, then you should ask your doctor about how much more you should drink and the use of oral rehydration preparations.

Just one night sleeping in air-conditioning can really dehydrate us and some doctors recommend consuming an additional half litre of water in the morning to rehydrate. But, drinking excessive quantities of water can also be hard work for your body, so if you are in doubt, always consult your doctor.

It’s worth bearing in mind that sugary snacks give you highs and lows – which your body may well not react well to these days! Slow-burning foods such a whole grains, unprocessed foods, vegetables, beans, oats and wholegrain pasta will keep your blood sugar more stable. To sweeten foods, honey has the lowest Glycaemic Index (GI) rating, meaning it will give you less of a ‘sugar high’.  Be careful with some of the ‘healthier’ sugars such as agave and coconut as they have high GI ratings just like sugar!

ou will need more protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12 than in a singleton pregnancy, so make sure you have a varied diet. Try to eat little and often. Taking a pregnancy supplement is also a good idea and your doctor may even prescribe one for you.

A note on diet and eating foods that are potential allergens: medical advice has changed in recent years, and there is a growing body of evidence that consuming common allergens (such as peanuts) during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, can help to prevent allergies in your babies. If you or members of your family suffer from allergies or intolerances or have any reason to be concerned about your babies having allergies, it is worth seeking expert medical advice on if/how to take mitigating measures at this point.

And lastly, it seems that your babies are likely to be born with a predisposition to like the flavours that they have sampled via you in their amniotic fluid! So – by all means reach for the occasional donut or cupcake but try to balance it out with all the good stuff too! Garlic, green and leafy veg (particularly the brassica veg), spices and herbs are all apparently going to be picked up by your babies and ‘recognised’ by them months in the future when solid foods start!

If you are finding eating a balanced diet difficult then consider packing the nutrients into a homemade smoothie.



Blend this up or vary it by adding berry fruits, portions of avocado, raw beetroot, small amounts of almonds, brazils, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and raw cacao powder. This is a real nutritional powerhouse that many ladies find easier to digest – and sip at slowly – than a plate of food or a full meal.

Looking after yourself also means knowing when to rest, and when to carry on a little bit more. There is no right and wrong here, and most expectant mums find it is a bit of trial and error! If you can, try and time activities that might leave you feeling a bit over-exerted to a time close to an available rest time – like the end of the week if you are at work, or the weekend.

Mums to be often feel better in the second trimester, when some of the pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness can diminish. This is the time when serious growth is your babies’ job, though, and likely your bump will be expanding. Enjoy every moment, if you are able, and if you’re thinking of taking a last holiday before the babies arrive then this can be a good time.

Do consult your doctor if you are thinking of travelling abroad: apart from the need to listen to your doctor’s advice (please do listen if the doc thinks travel is not a good idea!), if you have a very prominent bump, sometimes an airline might request some evidence that you are medically sound for airline travel. And travel on aeroplanes is ALWAYS at the discretion of the airline and ultimately the plane’s Captain. The Captain can refuse you flying if they have cause to think that you are not fit to fly.

For most ladies, from around week 20 – 24 the need for proper rest and really changing your lifestyle really becomes necessary. If you are working and can’t slow down during the day, try to plan your life so that your leisure time includes adequate rest time, feet up! Sleep is such a wonderful thing – try and get as much as you can right now and it will help in the months to come. Whilst you may feel that you want to ‘get things done’ before the babies come (or before you become a mummy for the first time!), pushing yourself to the point where you feel strained or stressed is not the idea now! Honestly, the babies will not mind if the nursery is not finished!


How Big Will I Get?

Expectant mothers vary widely in size as in any pregnancy, but you can certainly expect to gain more weight than women carrying a singleton. In addition to the extra baby or babies, multiples mummies usually carry extra placentas, amniotic fluid and maternal body fluid.

As the babies grow, keeping physically comfortable can be a challenge. It’s probably best not to plan a huge amount of activity for the last few weeks of pregnancy – getting in and out of cars as well as negotiating seatbelts can become difficult, and you will probably be more tired with all the extra work your body is doing. It can help to swap tips with other pregnant mums, so if you haven’t yet joined the TwinsPlus Arabia support group on Facebook, do that right now!

And the bigger you get, the luckier you are to be in the part of the world where bobbing in a swimming pool or in the sea is a year-round activity! Make the most of the UAE and Middle Eastern climate and wallow in the pool at every available opportunity – there’s no better way to relieve the weight of your growing bump!


Exercise

Physical exercise is one thing – but really import to the multiples-to-be-mummy are pelvic floor exercises! Starting these exercises now is an excellent way to maintain the pelvic floor – which contributes to your core stability and helps avoid conditions such as a prolapsed uterus later in life. If you are new to pelvic floor exercises, clench them for a count of five, ten times, and repeat this five times a day. The muscles are the same ones you use to clench and stop your urine flow when peeing – although it’s not advisable to practice too much while urinating as this can lead to urinary tract discomfort.

In your first trimester if you are feeling great then carry on your normal exercise routine (although speak to your doctor if you are very serious about your exercise or a competitive athlete).

As your bump grows, even if you are lucky enough to escape some of the common pregnancy symptoms, you will probably need to slow workouts and gym sessions right down. Gentle low-impact exercise such as walking and swimming are always good. Avoid anything where balance is key as your centre of gravity will be changing for quite some time!

Emotional Health

Try to look after your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical health. The extra hormones from a multiples pregnancy (coupled with induced hormones if you have been through some types of fertility treatment or assisted pregnancy) can sometimes make you feel emotional and overwhelmed. At a time when all your friends and family are expecting you to feel jubilant and radiant, it is not at all uncommon for mummies-to-be to experience crippling fear and anxiety. And don’t forget that dads-to-be are just as vulnerable to pregnancy blues and nerves – and usually have fewer avenues to express and cope with such feelings.

Try to remember that such feeling and experiences are entirely normal, if you encounter them. Bursting into tears every now and then or feeling like you are in no way at all prepared for what is coming is utterly natural, and is not going to harm your babies. But many mums find that it’s good to get those feeling out and air them a bit, so – once again – do splash out everything you feel to our members via the Facebook group: there will always be a supportive ear and response, which can help so much.

It is not at all uncommon to feel some kind of anxiety of depression during your multiples pregnancy: it is huge task to be contemplating (arguably, you’d be crazy not to be stressed!). If you sense you are experiencing feeling beyond the bounds of manageable worry, then there are support groups in the UAE who can help, such as Lighthouse Arabia and Out of the Blues.

Have a look at our section on Premature Babies and how one can prepare: looking after yourself in any pregnancy can benefit from some of the inward-looking thinking and conversations that mums and dads can do, separately and importantly together too.

Nobody has to suffer alone – that is what TwinsPlus Arabia is here for, as well as celebrating the joys of multiples! Contact us and we can put you in touch with others who can help.

Reproduced in part with kind permission of TAMBA, the UK Twins and Multiple Birth Association.

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