You’re almost done! Congratulations for making it this far, as many twins are born premature. (57 percent of twins arrive prior to 37 weeks and 12 percent are born before 32 weeks.) From the moment of conception to the moment of birth, the baby has increased in size about 200 billion times to become a complex, unique individual. During the last few weeks before birth, there is a slowing down of growth and the baby may be less active because of less space. At birth, a full-term baby weighs between 6.5 and 8.5 pounds or even more, and is usually about 20-22 inches in length.
The babies’ skin is smooth, pale pink, and thickly covered with vernix. All babies’ eyes have a slate-blue color at birth, but will change to their true color within the first six months of life. The twins’ fingernails are firm and may extend beyond the fingertips. Maternal hormones transmitted to the babies before birth may cause certain temporary changes during the newborn period. For example, the breasts of the newborn (regardless of whether the baby is a boy or a girl) may be enlarged; female babies may have a slight blood-tinged menstrual discharge. All of these temporary changes are normal.
You are likely quite uncomfortable now. By delivery, the uterus is at the base of the breastbone, and contains nearly a quart of amniotic fluid. At about two weeks before delivery, one of the babies’ heads enters into the pelvis, a change which is known as lightening. You will experience a sense of decreased abdominal pressure, as the uterus moves away from your lungs, allowing deeper breaths. With the occurrence of lightening, though, there is increased pressure on the bladder and you may have an urge to urinate more frequently. The appearance of a gelatin-like material from the vagina, called show, with or without streaks of blood, indicates that the cervix is opening and labor will soon follow.
Emotionally, are you ready? Like most expectant mothers, it’s normal to feel anxious. Now’s the time to start thinking about joining a multiple group, if you haven’t already done so. The National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs, Inc. has a list of all chapters in the country. If you took a twin birthing class, you may have met other parents of twins to network with for support. Another way to prepare for the immediate weeks after birth is to recruit your partner, friends, or family to prepare healthy dishes that you can freeze as you may be too tired to cook for yourself!
- Although cesarean delivery is often used for the delivery of twins, about half of all twins are still delivered vaginally, according to a 2004 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
- Cryptophasia is when twins have their own “twin language” that only they understand. Many twins appear to have this so-called language when they are young children.
Diet and Weight Gain
During the last weeks before delivery you will find it difficult to eat much at any one meal—small meals and snacks throughout the day are a better option.
Eating for Three
Here are some light and nutritious snacks that you can nosh on throughout the day. For more snacks, see chapters seventeen through twenty.
Hearty Black Bean Salsa Quesadilla
- One 16-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped tomato
- 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 whole grain tortillas
- Olive oil spray
- 1 cup reduced-fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
- Cilantro sprigs for garnish
1. Combine first nine ingredients in a glass bowl, and refrigerate for one to two hours.
2. Spray tortillas with olive oil. Heat in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Spoon salsa over two tortillas; sprinkle with cheese and cover with other two tortillas.
3. Heat quesadilla for about two minutes or until cheese starts to melt. Carefully flip quesadillas over and heat for one more minute on the other side, or until lightly browned.
4. Place quesadilla on a plate and slice into six wedges. (A pizza cutter works great for this.) Garnish with sour cream and cilantro. Serves two or can be a snack to be eaten in small portions throughout the day. Re-heats well.
Fruit with Yogurt Dip
- An assortment of your favorite fresh fruits cut into bite-size pieces (try peaches, apples, grapes, melon, strawberries, bananas, pears)
- 1 cup plain low fat yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons pureed frozen strawberries
1. Place fresh fruit pieces on small skewers.
2. Mix dip ingredients with a hand mixer until well blended. Serve with the fresh fruit.
Italian Turkey Pita
- 1 small whole wheat pita pocket
- 1/4 cup chopped low-fat turkey (not deli meat, preferably sliced from an organic, baked turkey)
- 2 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped black olives
- 1 tablespoon chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon light Italian dressing
1. Cut pita pocket in half and carefully open the top of each half.
2. Combine the next six ingredients and spoon into pita halves.
3. Serve cold, or heat for a minute in the toaster oven or 30 seconds in microwave to melt cheese.