It can be scary and overwhelming to find out that you are pregnant with triplets. However, try not to let the stress get to you, as you need to be strong and prepared.
The best thing that you can do for your triplet babies is relax, eat well, and prepare as much as possible. If you are expecting triplets, or just curious about the process, please check out the following guide on how to prepare for your newest additions!
1. Make sure you have a great doctor
As soon as we found out that I was pregnant with triplets, I was referred to a great obstetrician. He is truly fantastic, and has delivered many, many sets of twins and triplets. We needed an experienced doctor, as being pregnant with multiples can often be complicated. We needed to be able to trust my doctor and know that me and the babies were in good hands.
I was also referred to a paediatrician to discuss the care of the triplets after birth. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was visited before the triplets were born, to familiarize myself with the equipment. This happened just in case we needed this specialized care, but in our case, it turned out to be unnecessary. However, it is a must to visit there, just in case.
Discuss with Your Doctor
It is a good idea to write out all the questions you might have to ask your doctor. I remember discussing my pregnancy, and the care of the babies after delivery. All the information and talk of preparation helped me relax a bit. I did not work throughout my pregnancy, and I had my husband accompany me on all of my visits to the doctors and the hospital.
At my first antenatal visit, we discussed the risk of triplets and multifoetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) – the selective termination of fetuses. Multiple pregnancies have lots of risks, and you can choose to have one or two less babies to reduce those medical complications. It’s a very hard decision to make, and we declined.
When it gets very close to your possible delivery time, consider your doctor’s holidays and covering arrangement. Find out who will be your doctor’s weekend cover, or who is on call in case of emergency. Check your due date and see if your doctor will be away on vacation, so that you can arrange something before hand.
2. Get Support
We joined the multiple birth association, a voluntary organization which provides support and information for multiple birth families. We also joined the local branch and paid a membership fee. Sometimes they have buddy program, where they pair you to other triplet mums, who you can talk to about their experiences and method of coping, while answering any questions you may have.
Some mums are happy to meet you from time to time just for a chat. I joined Higher Order Multiples group for support as well (in many countries outside Australia the colloquial term used is ‘supertwins’). In the USA, the Multiples of America support families through membership in a local club.
All of these groups are great support. You will find a huge range of experienced members that have been through something similar. I can ask any question and someone will answer, which is so great when you are a new mum!
Benefits of Support
The benefit of a group like this is not just the information. These groups come with friendship, emotional support, social support through playgroups, family outings, nights out for mums and dads, and equipment hire may also be available. Other sources of assistance, including companies which may supply donations of goods, can benefit your family as well.
Check with your multiple birth group, local council, in-home care, service group, friends, family member, church, and neighbors to see if there is any help available for you.
I had lovely volunteer ladies come twice a week for a few hours, to help out with whatever I needed at the time. In those early days it was such a lifesaver!
Early on, when it was three hourly feed and we hardly had any long solid sleep, I asked the volunteer lady to help bathe and feed the triplets with one of us (me or my husband), while the other one (normally me) had a round of sleep. This way we could have a six hour sleep before the next feed. Sleep deprivation causes fatigue and sleepiness, and you don’t want these when you need to look after the three babies all at once.
3. Due Date
The average gestational period (length of pregnancy) of a triplet confinement is about 33 weeks. I wanted to keep them inside for as long as possible, so I had to listen to my body and stay positive for a healthy pregnancy.
I read and rested up when needed. Reading the progress in the week by week pregnancy guide was wonderful. I also saw a nutritionist, or dietician, who specialized in pregnancy. Here is a post of my pregnancy diet, or what to eat when pregnant. This helped to extend the gestational period of my pregnancy.
As each week passed, the babies got bigger and I felt more and more uncomfortable. My uterus started taking the strain of three babies. The last trimester can be very tiring and painful! If you plan to work during this time, you might have to stop work earlier than you originally wanted to. Listen to your body, and stop when you need to.
Be Prepared for Bed Rest
At 26 weeks, I had significant weight gain (+20kgs) and the resultant fatigue set in. It was really hard for me to walk as I was often short of breath. I needed to sit down after walking a few steps.
One day I went for an ultrasound and antenatal visit. After we came out from the doctor’s office, we had to walk to the carpark, which was only a few step from the doctor’s door. However, I had to sit down on the floor in the middle of the corridor as I couldn’t walk any further! The elevator seemed miles and miles away, but it actually wasn’t that far. I asked the hospital staff to bring me a wheelchair. It took us a long time to get to our car that day!
At the next antenatal visit, I arranged to see the doctor in a hospital’s wheelchair. Once he saw me suffering, I was ordered to be admitted to the hospital on that same day.
I spent almost seven weeks on bed rest in the hospital, turning into an eating machine as I had to eat all day- breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper!
My delivery date was aimed for 34 weeks. However, when I was at 33 weeks, it was a long weekend public holiday, and if something unexpected were to happen during this time, I wouldn’t have the team of my doctor (it would be the weekend cover’s team). My doctor said there’s not much difference between 33 and 34 weeks, so we arranged to give birth at 33 weeks and 2 days.
4. Review the family budget
It is recommended that you review the family budget and plan your financials well in advance. Don’t forget to check your doctor’s fee structure. My initial consultation incurred a fee, then I received an account at 16 weeks gestation, then again after delivery. Check on what health insurance you have, and how much you can get back. We have Private Health Insurance and strongly recommend to have one in a situation like ours (IVF and multiple birth). There were fees for pathology, ultrasound examination, and any anaesthetic or paediatric consultation by the specialist.
Then there are things to buy like nursery and equipment, and clothing and bedding.
All these expenses will easily impact your financial situation, so you must plan and discuss your initial need and priorities
5. Impact on the older children
This is my first pregnancy so I have no expertise in this area, but refer to the Multiple Birth Association’s advice if you have an older child. Planning for the care of your older children is important, and the impact of the triplets on other children in the family needs to be addressed. You will be busy looking after the triplets and all the attention (even from people in the street!) will mostly go to them, and so your older children often get ignored.
It’s a good idea to speak with your family and friends, and ask them to spread the attention to your older children when possible. Also, prepare your children for the arrival of the triplets so that they feel included. Make sure to arrange for your older children to have their normal routines continued, such as sports activities and outings. If you can, seek help from family and friends, or hire a nanny if needed.
6. Share the good news
I know that a triplet pregnancy is a high risk the whole way through. There is no certainty or safe zone with triplets. We wanted to wait to get past a certain number of weeks before we told family and friends. Though the 12-week mark (or about 3 months pregnant) really only applies to singletons, it’s far enough along, and so we aimed for that.
We prepared for the storm of questions and reactions that would fly at us when we announced our news. People react in many different ways to the news of triplets, some of which can be distressing, so we needed to be prepared!
While waiting for this time to pass, you can plan a holiday!
We had a holiday at 17 weeks, after my doctor said it was fine for me to fly (from a medical perspective). You can take this as a last chance to do some things you enjoy before the babies arrive, as you won’t have time after that, believe me!
After 20 weeks, it is not recommended for you to travel. With a highly complicated triplet pregnancy, you don’t want to not be able to fly back home and then have to give birth at your holiday destination instead.
Naming the babies is another thing that will help pass the time when your are pregnant or on bed rest. We were thinking about their names early in my pregnancy. We just wanted simple one syllable names, something that my family in Thailand could easily pronounce correctly, without any accent or language barrier.
We thought of using Thai names, but after letting my husband say them out loud, I didn’t think it was a good idea! You have to be careful when speaking Thai, as you might be trying to say “mother” but instead it will come out as “dog” or “horse”.
Take my name, for example. I have to spell it to people all the time, and correct it often, and still, some people can’t pronounce it at all! Since this bothers me, I don’t want the triplets to be in the same situation.
Eventually we landed on their names. We chose the short and sweet names of Kate, Sam, and Bo. It’s funny that now when people ask for their name, I still say them in their birth order, I think I just got used to it.
7. What to buy
As it is a high risk to be pregnant with triplets, I didn’t want to buy anything until they were born. Especially the big items, or things I would need many of for three babies. I didn’t want to be reminded if one or two did not survive, or even all of them. That would have been too painful for me personally.
We ordered cots, a pram, and car seats at the last minute. Don’t forget we still had time to organize all of this, as they would be in hospital’s nursery for a month after the birth! We didn’t set up their room at all until the last month of my pregnancy.
Although this may seem like a long list, this is really just the start. Try to relax, take a deep breath, and take the process one day at a time. Did you just find out that you are pregnant with triplets? How are you feeling? How is your preparation for the triplets so far? I would love to hear more about your triplet pregnancy or prep work! Thank you for reading my post, and please feel free to leave any comment or questions below.