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Twins Calendar: Weeks 21 through 24

Babies’ Growth
Each twin’s weight gain during this period is substantial, doubling again to about 20 ounces each (1.25 pounds), and to a length of about 12 inches. Your twins’ skin appears red and wrinkled because of the absence of fat beneath the skin, but by the end of the month, the growth makes the babies appear in better proportion. By the end of the 24th week distinctive footprints and fingerprints have been formed.

Mother’s Changes
The rapid growth during the past eight weeks stretches the abdomen, causing pinkish or reddish streaks in the skin, called striae, or stretch marks. After delivery, they will fade to a light silver color, but will not disappear completely. Another skin change that may occur in some women is a brownish discoloration on the face, called chloasma, or the mask of pregnancy. This, too, fades after delivery. Most women generally feel warmer than before they became pregnant because of an increase in both the metabolic rate and sweat gland activity. This second adaptation aids in the elimination of the additional waste materials from the baby.

By the end of the second trimester, your blood volume has increased by 100 percent or more over your non-pregnant levels. Red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, have increased by 50 to 60 percent. If the level of iron in your red blood cells fall too low, iron-deficiency anemia develops. Symptoms include fatigue, lightheadedness, pallor, and shortness of breath. Untreated, anemia can adversely affect the growth of your babies, and also increase your own risks for complications both during and after the birth.

Multiple Facts

  • Fraternal twins result when the mother produces two eggs instead of one in the normal monthly cycle, and the eggs are fertilized by separate sperm. Fraternal twins are called dizygotic (DZ) meaning that they developed from two separate zygotes.
  • Sharing on average 50 percent of their genes, fraternal twins are no more alike genetically than are non-twin siblings. That’s why fraternal twins should not be expected to have the same appearance, personality, intelligence level, or rate of growth and development any more than singleton brothers and sisters would.

Diet and Weight Gain
Iron supplements are not the best answer if you develop iron-deficiency anemia. Many women find that iron pills exacerbate nausea and may also lead to constipation. It also takes more than iron to build your blood—it takes protein, vitamin B12, and other nutrients as well. The best source of the iron you need right now is food rich in heme-iron—lean red meats, pork, fish, poultry, and eggs—with additional iron coming from enriched or fortified grains and breads, nuts, beans and lentils, spinach, dried fruits, and wheat germ.

Eating for Three
Here is an iron-rich recipe.

Sea Scallops with Broccoli

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 3/4 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fat-free half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of white pepper
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 cups cooked whole-wheat pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place scallops and flour in a large closeable plastic bag; shake gently to coat scallops.
2. Melt butter with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add scallops, onion, and garlic. Sauté for about four minutes until scallops are opaque.
3. Stir in next six ingredients; cover and simmer for about five minutes. Add Swiss cheese and stir until cheese is slightly melted.
4. Serve over whole-wheat pasta. Add a mixed green salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette and almonds.