Pregnancy is both a joyous and anxious time.
Multiple Pregnancy: What to Expect
Pregnancy is both a joyous and anxious time. Starting or expanding a family leads to years of happiness, but it can also be an emotional rollercoaster for parents-to-be. Adding a multiple pregnancy can increase pre-birth anxiety even further.
Most multiple pregnancies result in healthy births and typical babies. However, any multiple pregnancy is considered high-risk, and the risks are compounded for each additional baby the mother is carrying. A maternal-fetal medicine specialist, like the ones at Valley Perinatal Services, can help reduce that risk by partnering with Ob/Gyns to manage a multiple pregnancy.
Below is what you should expect during a multiple pregnancy.
What to Expect When Carrying Multiples
Carrying multiple babies doesn’t always result in medical problems, but you will be monitored much more closely to ensure everyone is healthy. Extra monitoring will likely include more frequent checkups during the second half of pregnancy.
Additional monitoring appointments will involve a physical exam to measure the length of the cervix and gauge the risk of early delivery; ultrasounds to track the growth of the babies; and additional medical tests to check for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, or other conditions that could affect the health of the mother during pregnancy.
Planning a Multiple Birth
Most mothers create a birth plan detailing their ideal birth, including their wishes for skin to skin, delayed cord clamping, or having their partner catch the baby. Birthing multiples does not mean these events are not possible, but it is important to create a new birth plan that considers all possible risk involved in a multiple birth.
For example, birthing multiplies may increase the likelihood of preterm birth, C-sections, and other birth complications. More babies may also mean they are positioned differently, and a breech or transverse baby can also result in changes to a birth plan.
Being mentally prepared for different outcomes can help you set your expectations. MFM specialists have years of experience with multiple pregnancies and can help advise mothers-to-be.
It is important to also be aware of what hospitals have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), should you deliver prior to 34, 37 and 28 weeks. Not all NICUs have the same level of services and you want to avoid being transferred to another hospital, as there is only a small window of opportunity to make the biggest impact after delivery. An MFM specialist can provide you with hospital recommendations.
A multiple pregnancy can increase the risks associated with birth, including the risk for pre-term birth and a NICU stay for the babies. However, only an MFM familiar with a specific case can advise on the right course of action.
What Happens After Delivery?
What happens after a multiple birth will depend upon the gestational age of the babies. For example, babies born from 34 to 37 weeks may need just a few days in the NICU, while babies born before 28 weeks can only survive with intensive medical care and good fortune.
Some hospitals require babies born before 37 weeks or babies that weigh fewer than four pounds go to the NICU. Newborns from a multiple pregnancy are more likely to end up in NICU because they tend to be born earlier and have a lower birth weight. The care of an MFM specialist during a multiple pregnancy can increase babies’ gestational age and improve the chances of a healthy outcome.
Reducing the Risk of a Multiple Pregnancy
The key to ensuring a multiple pregnancy goes smoothly is making sure you get prenatal care as early in your pregnancy as possible. The sooner you know you are carrying multiples, the sooner you and your healthcare providers can begin to diagnose and treat any complications.
Multiple Pregnancy with Valley Perinatal Services
Being pregnant with multiples can mean extra joy for you and your growing family. It can also result in a great deal of anxiety. While no pregnancy is without risk, a little extra care during a multiple pregnancy can make a big difference for everyone.
Valley Perinatal Services can be that extra help. Our team ranks in the top 1 percent of the nation’s perinatologists, and our own Dr. John Elliott has delivered more quintuplets and quadruplets than any other perinatologist in the world.
If you are a mother looking for advice or an Ob/Gyn looking to co-manage a multiple pregnancy, we can help. Get in touch with any of our seven Arizona locations by calling 480.756.6000 or contact us online for an appointment.