The average singleton baby is born at forty weeks gestation, weighs about seven and a half pounds, and is about twenty-two inches in length, although there is wide variation, which is still considered normal. The average twin, however, is born much earlier—at about thirty-five weeks, weighing about five pounds, two ounces. Hopefully—if you followed a healthy diet and optimal pattern of weight gain—yours weighed more and was born closer to term. During the first few days after birth, each baby loses about 5 to 10 percent of his/her birth weight, or about six to ten ounces. This is normal. After this time, he or she will continue to gain steadily (about two pounds per month for the first six months of life).
The twins’ heads may appear elongated from the molding that occurred if you delivered vaginally. This, too, is normal and the head will return to a more rounded shape within a few weeks. Newborns can only breathe through their noses, and can do so while eating (unlike us adults). Any nasal congestion, therefore, will cause your babies difficulty in both eating and breathing. The twins are born with a number of reflexes, indicating growth of the nervous system. They will grasp strongly to your finger (the grasp reflex); turn their faces to the side when touched (the rooting reflex); and will automatically start sucking when something touches their lips (the rooting reflex). All of these (and many other) reflexes are healthy adaptations to life outside the womb.
Your body is going through many physical and hormonal changes while you are likely dealing with lack of sleep and juggling the demands of two infants. Accepting help at this stage is crucial. At forty weeks, the uterus weighs about two and a quarter pounds; one week after delivery, it weighs half this much, and by six weeks, only two ounces. After delivery, the uterus can be felt at the levels of the umbilicus. At two days postpartum, it begins to shrink in size. By the tenth day, the uterus can no longer be felt and is at or below the level of the pubis. Breastfeeding helps the uterus to contract by triggering the release of specific hormones.
- 18 to 20 percent of twins are left handed; for non-twins, the rate of lefties is only 10 percent, according to Twinsnetwork.com.
- Now is the time to consider joining a support group like The National Association of Mothers of Twins Clubs. It has more than 475 clubs listed throughout the United States and boasts 20,000 member families.
Diet and Weight Gain
Breastfeeding is a unique and precious gift only you can give your babies—even more important if your babies were born prematurely. Breast milk contains antibodies that will help your twins remain healthy during these first weeks outside the womb, and breastfeeding will help your own body get back in shape quicker. Although the nutrient content of breast milk is remarkably consistent, it is influenced by the types of fats in your diet—making a continued, adequate intake of omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods very important. The emphasis for a breastfeeding diet is less on iron and more on calcium-rich foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt—aim for about ten servings a day. To make a sufficient amount of breast milk for twins, you need about 1,000–1,200 additional calories per day over pre-pregnant levels. Now is not the time to cut back on calories. If your diet is inadequate, your supply will dwindle.
Eating for Three
Meals that provide healthy leftovers are perfect right now. Ask a friend or family member to make the following meal for you, which is rich in calcium, iron, and protein.
Lasagna with Spinach
- 1/2 pound ground beef (you may substitute tofu)
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped cooked spinach, drained
- 2 cups low-fat pasta sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup low-fat Ricotta cheese
- Cooking spray
- One box no-boil lasagna noodles
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Brown beef; drain. Add next three ingredients; cook for two to three minutes.
3. Add pasta sauce; reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Add next four ingredients.
4. Spray a nine by thirteen inch pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of meat mixture on bottom of pan.
5. Top with four noodles; layer with half of remaining meat mixture, and then 1/2 cup of mozzarella and 1/2 cup of ricotta.
6. Repeat step five; top with Parmesan cheese.
7. Cover with foil and bake thirty minutes; remove foil and bake another ten minutes. Take lasagna from the oven and let it set for about five minutes before serving.