Having already given birth to two girls, Soledad O’Brien was ready for another addition to her family last winter. Yet she and her husband, Brad, were in for a surprise when, several months into her most recent pregnancy, her doctor told her she had not one, but two babies, on the way.
For eight-plus months, New York University Medical Center practically became O’Brien’s second home. She suffered everything from pronounced morning sickness to extreme dehydration, which made bearing the twins tougher than her first two pregnancies, but was not uncommon among the growing numbers of U.S. women expecting multiple babies.
"With [one] child, you know what you’re going to get," said O’Brien, co-anchor of CNN’s "American Morning." But with twins, "it was so much harder on my body."
Her experience was more the norm than the exception, as mothers of multiples typically face more challenges than those giving birth to one infant at a time.
Expectant mothers of twins, triplets or more often suffer from nausea, fatigue, water retention and difficulty sleeping at a greater rate and severity than those with one baby. In addition, carrying more than one fetus puts extra strain on the legs, back and rest of the body.
Those giving birth to multiples also face higher risks of miscarriage and premature births, which can result in low birth weights and other problems, plus a greater likelihood of developing gestational diabetes, urinary tract infections, anemia and excessive postpartum bleeding, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Experts say such mothers should make ample preparations, know the risks and set realistic expectations. But they admit nothing can replicate the real thing.
"I don’t think most of the patients realize how difficult it is to [be pregnant with twins]," said Dr. Michael Divon, Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
More tests, hormones
O’Brien gave birth to healthy twin boys — Charlie Raymond, weighing 7.1 pounds, and Jackson Raymond, weighing 7.2 pounds — on August 30 at NYU Medical Center. The fraternal twins join sisters Sofia, 3, and Cecilia, 2.
While O’Brien’s delivery went smoothly, the weeks and months leading up to it were not always easy. She had acute morning sickness in her pregnancy’s first few months, saying she "just felt crappy … as though I had the flu everyday."
Even when things are going well medically, women carrying multiple babies often suffer from severe morning sickness. Dr. Jane Cleary-Goldman, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said this stems from a higher level of hormones. Hormone levels increase in all pregnant women, and even more so in women carrying more than one baby.
O’Brien also experienced several instances of severe dehydration, two of which required brief hospitalizations.
The entire process had O’Brien going to NYU Medical Center one or two times a week, typically for hours at time — far more frequent doctor visits, she said, than during her first two pregnancies.
There she underwent a battery of tests including ultrasounds, biophysical profiles of each fetus and tests gauging their breathing, movement and weight, plus regular check-ups on her own condition.
Via Blogging Baby