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Taking the mystery out of a due date for twins

June 6, 2010

I get asked a lot, by strangers as well as people I know and love, “what’s your due date?” Like most things in a twin pregnancy the answer is a little complicated.

Since I’m asked this so much I thought it was worth posting about especially since I hope that my blog can impart a few of the tidbits of knowledge that I’m picking up along the way.

One’s due date is simply 40 weeks from her last menstrual cycle. (For me that happens to be Oct. 5.) In a singleton pregnancy a woman might go beyond 40 weeks, but at 42 weeks they would likely induce because the baby’s size and reduced amniotic fluid would begin to be a risk to the baby’s well-being. Like a lot of things with twin pregnancies, the clock moves up about a month. Thus, term for twins is  36-1/2 weeks. For the same reasons as the case of 42 wk singleton pregnancies, an expecting mom of twins can expect to be induced or scheduled for c-section at or before 38 wks. Depending on the size of the babies, they may be induced even earlier.  (note: the babies don’t develop faster, that stays consistent with singletons, but for ex., a woman’s bulging belly at 17 weeks with twins is like the bulging belly of a woman of 24 weeks pregnant with 1 baby.)

That alone makes the “due date” invalid for twins.  For ex., my due date is Oct. 5, yet my pregnancy will not be allowed to go beyond Sept. 21!  And so far my babies are measuring big, about 2 weeks big, so my guess is nature or my doctor will make it earlier.)

The average for twins is more like 34-36 weeks. So again, it is unlikely that I would make it to the point of needing to be induced, etc.  If I went into labor during the typical window that would be between Aug. 24 and Sept. 7, which really makes my due date of Oct. 5 sound immaterial.

One of the causes of bedrest in expectant moms of twins is going into premature labor. (60% of expectant moms of twins go on bedrest before giving birth!) This can happen quite early, in one of my books the author and several of her pregnancy for multiples classmates were hospital-mates for this reason.  The author was hospitalized for 13 weeks, so at about 20 weeks! (I’m approaching week 23.) The hospitals take several measures, including bedrest to stall labor as long as possible so the babies have more time to develop. The commonness of bedrest in addition to the enhanced discomforts of carrying 2 babies, 2 placentas, and 2 sacs of amniotic fluid, is why that and other books advise women carrying twins to try to do whatever they need to before the 3rd trimester because if you aren’t laid up on bedrest by then, you will at the very least be very uncomfortable and very tired.

It’s hard to imagine our babies could be here in just 11-13 weeks!

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