How to Stay Fit and Healthy as a Mom-to-Be of Multiples
All the care, diet, exercise, and prevention that apply in the delivery of one baby goes double for twins and other multiple pregnancies. Become familiar with some of the health requirements and risks so you can have an easy, uneventful, and joyous multiples pregnancy.
When you take care of yourself your chances are so much better that there will be little to no complications during delivery. You’ll be ready and able to enjoy life fully when your little bundles enter the world … and naturally, they will too.
You’ll need plenty of energy for all the love and attention you’ll be directing to two or more of them. Let’s look at some of the ways multiples births affect your body and your health and what to do.
Weight Gain and Mom’s Heart
Weight gain during pregnancy can put some strain on a mother’s heart. Twin moms’ hearts are working even harder during pregnancy. High blood pressure is an increased risk with multiples. The extra weight can also make moms-to-be slow to move around, feel heavier, and experience a more off-kilter center of gravity.
The volume of blood in multiple moms is also higher, another reason the heart has to work harder. This pressure could slow down the flow of blood back up to the heart, causing ankle and leg swelling and an increased risk of preeclampsia (a pregnancy-caused high blood pressure, usually occurring in the last trimester.)
You may huff and puff more climbing stairs and performing other physical tasks might be more difficult. Listen to your body and let it tell you how much rest you need. Pay attention to any swelling in your hands, face or eyes, ankles and if you’re gaining weight suddenly, see your healthcare provider.
The good news is that spinal adjustments, specifically Webster Technique, is well known for helping mamas get their body in a preferred balanced position. The more balanced a mother’s body is during pregnancy, the higher chances of your baby being in a better position. A pregnant mother experiencing less pain and discomfort with her baby being in a more comfortable position can help take pressure off the mother’s body overall.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar
Another reassurance is that high blood sugar during pregnancy, which can cause gestational diabetes and causes blood sugar levels to rise, is a temporary condition. Once your babies are born, if blood sugar has been elevated, it usually returns to normal quickly.
Pregnancy makes you naturally more resistant to insulin so that more glucose is available to nourish your baby – or in your case, babies. When your body needs additional insulin to process excess glucose in the blood, the pancreas secretes more, but if the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand – like when you’re eating for two or three – your blood sugar levels could rise.
Chiropractic adjustments can lower blood pressure. In March of 2007, the Journal of Human Hypertension published a study that demonstrated a significant decrease in blood pressure following a chiropractic adjustment to a vertebra located at the base of the skull.
Trigger point therapy
Discuss trigger point therapy with your chiropractor. With the additional pressure placed on the spine and body of a mother of multiples can create more muscular tension. Myofascial trigger points are hypersensitive spots in surrounding the skeletal muscle. They feel like palpable “knots” in a band of muscle fibers. These “knots” can identify the source of certain musculoskeletal pain.
Soft tissue bodywork such as myofascial release, deep tissue massage, and Active Release Technique applies pressure to muscles while they’re being stretched. Each bodywork is a therapy unique in its form and is designed as neuromuscular therapy. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, including the Webster Technique, soft tissue bodywork focuses on muscular imbalances and relieving chronic pain. It’s a quick and effective way to increase strength and flexibility.
What You Can Do Yourself
Besides seeing your prenatal chiropractor for care throughout your pregnancy for correct spinal and muscular alignment – even up until labor – here are some things you can do yourself:
Eat a good diet. What you eat is your unborn babies’ main source of nourishment. You’ll have crazy cravings so it’s important to balance the midnight pickles and ice cream with a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and high protein from foods such as meat, chicken, and fish. Multiples require extra calories. Be sure to include lots of green leafy vegetables and other foods that are natural sources of folic acid and calcium. Daily use of folic acid has been linked to reduced risk of birth defects. You’ll also want to eat foods that contain iron like beef, eggs, and tuna. For a list vitamins and minerals essential for pregnancy see this list.
Use good posture. Don’t get sloppy because you feel tired and don’t want to be bothered with correct posture. Keep your body and spine strong and balanced in a neutral, correct position. Wear flat shoes, and when bending, bend from the knees. You’re carrying around more than the typical weight of one baby.
Cut back on some activities. Try to cut back on work and travel and adjust the types of physical activities you do. Rest more to prevent preterm labor, a more increased risk factor with multiples.
Arrange pillows properly. Your hips should be higher than your knees and belly lower or equal to your spine. If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off your lower back. Or use a body pillow or pregnancy wedge.
Pregnancy belt. If you have loose ligaments, wear a pregnancy belt, also called a Belly Support Band. They relieve the common pregnancy pains like round ligament pain, sciatica, and give support to your back to adjust for your center of gravity being off balance. Belts also strengthen and support muscles when you’re recovering after your babies are born.
Move and stay active. Swimming belly down is a good low impact exercise that uses the counter pressure of water. If you sit for long periods of time use a footrest and try to move around about every 30 minutes. Exercise at least three times a week, stretching before and after each session. Do non-weight-bearing exercises. Your heart rate should be under 140 beats per second. A stationary bike is ok but avoid aerobics, resistance, weight training, or any exercises performed lying flat on your back. Needless to say, if you’re experiencing any complications, lay off all but the gentlest exercises and get more bed rest.
Bodywork. This provides deep relaxation of the abdomen and pelvis, the involuntary muscles through therapeutic exercises and stretches. Balancing the womb means helping it become more symmetrical by releasing tension, twists, or torsion in the uterine ligaments. Practice with different relaxation techniques. Check with your prenatal chiropractor or health care provider to make sure they’re safe.
Pregnancy Yoga. Attend yoga classes specifically designed for pregnant moms. Certain yoga poses increase your strength and flexibility and can help you develop breathing and relaxation techniques. Prenatal yoga can also improve your sleep and decrease lower back pain. Look for a certified prenatal yoga instructor.
Help Along the Way
Gentle spinal adjustments keep your tissues and biomechanics functioning optimally to minimize any complications during birth. Chiropractic adjustments on mom can be used safely for twin and other multiple pregnancies. That should be a relief to multiple moms – physically and mentally. Many moms-to-be don’t know what to expect carrying more than one baby through pregnancy and the birth process.
Moms with multiples, please know that you have lots of support from your chiropractor before and after your delivery. Dr. Michelle Parker will help you keep your body, muscles, joints, and ligaments optimally balanced and can answer all your questions about how best to take care of yourself and your unborn children. And the rest of your support team will be there to encourage you and take some of the load off. (You have enough of a load to carry yourself!)
Another resource is the non-profit organization Multiples of America. They have a newsletter, discussion groups, research reports, and studies based on member surveys.
If you’re located in Aledo, Texas in East Parker County, schedule a visit with Dr. Parker. She serves pre- and postnatal moms and their children in Tarrant, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Hood, Wise, Denton, Dallas and Johnson counties. Dr. Parker has special training as a pediatric chiropractor certified through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is the only chiropractor with this certification in Parker County.