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Congratulations on expecting multiples! Based on my experience as the mom of twins, I have a list of nine tips to help your pregnancy be the best it can be.

1. Make health a priority.

This is No. 1 for a reason. Getting enough protein and drinking enough water every day are musts. Multiple pregnancies can require more than 150 grams of protein per day. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but a small chicken breast has 30g, so it’s actually easier than you might think. You and the babies you are growing need it.

Water is also important. I kept a big water bottle at my side at all times. Other important things to be aware of include daily folic acid, and lots of calcium and iron. A flu shot is also important because you certainly don’t want to get sick. (Editor’s note: specific nutritional requirements may depend on your pre-pregnancy BMI, the number of babies you are carrying and other factors so discuss this with your own obstetrician).

2. Prepare for lots of doctor visits.

Speaking of your doctor … expect to clear your schedule for doctor visits, especially toward the end. Because of challenges “seeing” both babies during an examination, in order to monitor discrepancies in growth between the babies, and other reasons, you may have more ultrasounds than you would during pregnancy with just one baby. I have so many ultrasound pictures of the babies, it’s funny!  I would get new pictures every week.

3. Find a good research tool – and not Google.

You will want to Google — I get it — but please try to resist. An excellent resource for multiple pregnancies is When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke, and Tamara Eberlein.  This is my No. 1 recommended resource for parents of multiples.

4. Weight gain is okay.

Yes, I know – it’s certainly not a topic anyone wants to discuss, but just know you’re going to gain weight. You’re carrying more babies, so a higher weight gain is natural. Multiple pregnancies have an average weight gain of 30-40 pounds, versus a singleton pregnancy of 25 pounds. Again, talk to your doctor about specifics for you.

34 Weeks Pregnant

5. Expect more of the unpleasant sides of pregnancy.

If you’ve been pregnant before, just expect more of it. If this is your first pregnancy, expect body aches, pains, heartburn, morning sickness and fatigue.  Near the end, my belly felt so big and FULL, I imagined my babies would just fall out at any moment. Of course they didn’t, but it was uncomfortable to sleep, walk, and do other basic things.

6. Find support and accept help.

You cannot do it all, especially when pregnant with multiples. It’s okay — and wise — to ask for help. The house cleaning and chores can go on the back burner. When people ask if they can help you, say yes.

Also, connect with a local support group, like POTATO, National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and Moms of Multiples. (This is where a quick Google search can come in handy to find groups in your area.) I wouldn’t have made it through my pregnancy, or the first year with my twins, without the support of my local group.

7. Get ready for your babies earlier.

Go ahead and prepare. On average, most singleton pregnancies last about 39 weeks. This decreases the more babies you are carrying: 35 weeks for twins, 32 weeks for triplets, and 29 weeks for quads. You never know what might happen, so it’s best to have your nursery ready, stroller and car seats unpacked, and yourself ready to go should the situation arise.

8. Know your risks.

It’s important to be aware of them, but not freak out. Carrying multiples puts you at a higher risk of early delivery, being put on bed rest, occasional spotting, and developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your risks and your concerns.

9. Have a desired birth plan, but be flexible.

If your goal is a vaginal delivery – great! But know that a c-section conversation may come up when carrying multiples. In a perfect world, both babies would be head down and ready to go, but when you have more than one in there, it can be different. Be aware, know your options, talk with your doctor, and ask questions. The No. 1 priority is getting your babies out in the safest way possible. Stay flexible and open-minded.

Above all, keep yourself as healthy and as prepared as possible. You will soon join a very special group of parents of multiples. Try to relax, and enjoy it!

Mandy is a Brentwood-based southern gal who loves decorating, fashion, blogging, and celebrity gossip. She is a small business owner and a “MOM (Mom of Multiples)” to fantastic boy and girl twins, Josh and Jules. Visit her blog Mandy with Multiples.  

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Caring for a Baby in a Spica Cast: 4 Tips for Daily Life

When we learned that our 1-year-old foster daughter would need surgery for a malformed hip, and would be in a spica cast for two to three months, the focus of instructions  from doctors and nurses, as well as the online resources we consulted, focused on keeping the cast clean.

Diapering (with a regular diaper tucked into the cast and a larger one around the outside) and sponge-bathing to keep the cast dry are certainly important. But there was a lot more we had to learn about daily life with a small child who was not only immobile, but encased in a very large, awkwardly shaped cast.

We’ve found that caring for a small child in a spica cast is almost like learning to care for your first baby; you learn as you go and it feels normal before you know it. As you learn, consider these tips and tricks from someone who’s been there:

Get a bean-bag chair. Your child will probably be able to sit on cushioned chairs and sofas, especially with pillows placed as needed, but bean-bag chairs can form to your child and offer support in a variety of positions. A bean-bag chair will enable a young child, used to playing on the floor, to be close to the ground. It’s not a bad idea to get an extra one for use away from home.

Trial and error with positions. The hospital will probably give you a special car seat so that your child can be secured safely in the car — never improvise with car seat safety. But for other places, don’t assume your gear is unusable. We stacked towels under the removable pad of her high chair to get her bottom high enough that one leg could sit on the arm of the chair. The tray wouldn’t fit, but she could still be belted in and seated at the table for meals with the rest of the family. Similarly, her umbrella stroller and the seat of a grocery cart wouldn’t accommodate her cast in the typical position, but if one leg was allowed to stick out to the side instead, she could enjoy being pushed around like normal.

Keep your baby cool. Especially in the warmer months of the year, a cast covering the child’s torso can make him hot. Clothe your baby in lightweight wear, and position him so that the areas outside the cast get plenty of air. A head and neck cushioned by pillows or a bean bag can get quite sweaty. Holding a baby in a spica cast can be awkward and heavy, but picking him up frequently will help the air (not to mention his blood) circulate.

Keep your baby occupied. For mobile babies and toddlers whose main entertainment is exploring their world, being stuck in one place can be a nightmare. Find toys without pieces and parts that can be dropped, that the child can play with while holding them, like anactivity ball with beads and rattles or a board book with flaps. Position a small table over one leg of the cast so that tabletop toys like puzzles and blocks can be easily reached.

Caring for your child in a spica cast can be daunting at first, but don’t worry, it will soon become second nature.

If you have parented a child in a spica cast, what tips would you add?

Jessica Miller Kelley is currently the mom of three little girls — two forever and one for who-knows-how long. She works in publishing and blogs at The Parsonage Family.



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