Congratulations, you’re expecting triplets! Those three tiny heartbeats flickering on the ultrasound screen mean that life as you know it is about to be turned upside down. You probably feel ecstatic, shocked, and a little curious if you really will be able to balance a plate on your bump like Phoebe did on Friends. It’s kind of like Friends except with less of a laugh track and more conversations about cervical length, but at times it may feel like a sitcom – complete with hard to believe situations and a large supporting cast. So what do you do now?
Assemble Your Team
A triplet pregnancy is automatically considered a high risk pregnancy regardless of the health or medical history of the mother. You’ll likely be referred to a Maternal Fetal Medicine obstetrician who is specifically trained to handle complications that can arise for mom or babies during a non-routine pregnancy. Your MFM will be the point person on a whole team of providers to ensure that any potential problems are handled as quickly as possible. From managing nutritional requirements to tracking the growth of three babies, a triplet pregnancy can result in a number of unique challenges so you’ll also be seen frequently.
Your high-risk team will also work with you to develop a plan for your triplets’ delivery. With a few rare exceptions, mothers of triplets have cesarean births. The hospital where you deliver your babies is also an important consideration, given that the majority of triplets are born prior to 37 weeks and may require some time in a NICU. Start to discuss all of your care and delivery options and plans for various scenarios as soon as your provider team is in place so that you can confidently and knowledgeably navigate your pregnancy and delivery.
In addition to your expanded medical team, your to do list has grown. Plan on the babies arriving early and on you being fairly uncomfortable towards the end, so try to do the majority of your preparations early. Take an Expecting Triplets class, tour your hospital, get car seats, set up the nursery, and make a postpartum plan by the end of the second trimester. Preparing for the arrival of three babies can be a daunting task but build your village early and don’t be afraid to call on them often- even before the babies have been born.
Triplets are an unusual occurrence and can be a bit intimidating for family and friends who may be excited to help but unsure of how to best support you. Perinatal professionals and other triplet families can be wonderful resources during your pregnancy and beyond, for you and your network. Get connected with multiples organizations and triplet-specific groups both locally and online to ask questions, learn what to expect once the babies are born, and be surrounded by a community that gets how crazy your world has become.
Respect the Bump
You’ve probably already discovered that a triplet bump has a life of its own. It’s common for those pregnant with triplets to already need maternity clothes by 8 weeks and to have outgrown those maternity clothes by the last few months. It can be pretty hard to hide your bump so don’t be surprised if people comment early. And comment they will- be prepared to field a million “Wow, you look like you’re about to pop!” or “You’ve got a litter in there!” remarks.
Once you can feel your babies move, it can feel like there’s really a party in your belly. It can be fun to feel them respond to each other’s movements or to your or your partner’s voices. Things get crowded quickly and occasionally a baby may attempt to wiggle their way up under your rib cage. If you’re ever feeling really uncomfortable you can place an ice pack on your belly to gently encourage them to scoot back to a slightly better spot. And although you feel like a beached whale when it takes your partner and ultrasound tech to roll you off of the bed after a scan, take lots of pictures to document your bump’s growth!
Listen to Your Body
Growing three tiny humans is an extraordinary task for your body to undertake; anatomical and physiological changes occur that impact every system in your body. Your medical team will advise you on the proper nutrition, activities, and symptom management to support you and your babies. Stay hydrated, be mindful of your body’s needs, and educate yourself on the signs of preterm labor and how you should respond. Your body is changing rapidly so trust your intuition and never be afraid to check in with your doctor if something just feels off.
Being pregnant with triplets is an exciting, terrifying, surreal experience. At times you may be over the moon at the prospect of thirty tiny fingers and thirty tiny toes, while at other times you may feel lost as your vision of motherhood has been completely turned upside down. It’s ok to have moments of doubt and anxiety, those feelings are valid and don’t negate the love you feel for your growing little ones.
It’s also important to know that parents of multiples are at a higher risk of pregnancy and postpartum mental health complications. If you’re having a difficult time with the emotional aspect of your pregnancy, reach out and get support. A triplet pregnancy is an extraordinary life event and one that is impossible to predict and prepare for ahead of time.
A triplet pregnancy is going to be challenging and stressful at times, but also the very first steps of an exciting adventure. You’ll literally grow in ways you never imagined were possible and gain a newfound respect for your body’s strength and abilities. So, learn as much about as you can, as ridiculous as it sounds do try to relax, and take care of yourself and your babies!
About the Author
Emily Lindblad is Twin Love Concierge’s and Three Birds Family Education & Postpartum Care’s Postpartum Doula and Certified Newborn Care Specialist – providing perinatal support and education to Massachusetts families of multiples and Triplet parents worldwide. Emily is also the mother of triplets and knows first-hand that welcoming multiple newborns can be a daunting task. By providing practical tools and assistance, Emily provides families with the skills and confidence needed to successfully transition to life with twins, triplets, or more. For more information on our Triplet and Boston classes /services or to contact Emily, please email firstname.lastname@example.org