During this month, your twins each gain an additional 16-20 ounces to weigh about four pounds each, and have a length of about 16 inches by the end of the 32nd week. The twins’ skin has become smooth and pink, even babies of dark-skinned races, since the color changes only develop after exposure to sunlight. Their bones are now fully developed, but are soft and flexible since the storage of both calcium and iron occurs during the last eight weeks before birth.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself short of breath after a short walk. Shortness of breath is common during this time, as the enlarging uterus presses upwards against the diaphragm and lungs. You may experience rapid heartbeats, as you did earlier in the pregnancy, also due to the increased pressure of the growing uterus and baby. Fluid may accumulate in the tissues around your ankles and feet if you have been standing most of the day. By lying down at night and during daytime naps, especially on your left side, this fluid drains from your lower extremities; kidney function improves as well. As the uterus grows, it presses against the blood vessels leading to the kidneys, decreasing blood flow. It is especially important to rest lying on your side whenever possible.
Since you are getting closer to your birth, now is a good time to start networking for a good pediatrician. Perhaps your obstetrician referred you to one. It’s still a good idea to interview this physician and see if this pediatric office is a good fit for you.
- The twin rate in America has risen by 93 percent between 1980 and 2004. The number of triplets and higher order has increased by 544 percent.
- Women pregnant with twins are four times as likely to give birth prematurely (before 37 weeks gestation). This is because twin pregnancies are susceptible to complications including gestational diabetes, anemia, and preeclampsia—conditions that can cause preterm labor. Another major factor for premature birth of twins is inadequate growth—another reason to eat well!
Diet and Weight Gain
The third trimester is also when you have a particular need for the omega-3 fatty acids. This essential nutrient is critical to your babies’ vision and neurological systems, which are developing most rapidly during this period. Through a biochemical mechanism, omega-3 fatty acids block the formation of factors that can lead to premature labor. They can also protect your own brainpower. During pregnancy, the mother’s blood level of omega-3 fatty acids drops by almost two thirds, compared to her pre-pregnancy level, as a result of the growing babies’ need for this vital nutrient. Recent studies show that the expectant mother’s brain shrinks by approximately three percent during the last trimester. This may explain the memory loss that has long been associated with pregnancy, and may be linked to postpartum depression as well.
Aim to get 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per day. Good sources of omega-3 include fish, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, krill oil, and cod liver oil. When eating fish, however, make sure to avoid those with high mercury levels such as sword, tuna, king mackerel, shark, tilefish, and most shellfish. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises pregnant women to aim for two meals a week that include fish: shrimp, salmon, Pollock, and catfish. (Editor’s note: while the FDA says canned tuna is safe, others claim the FDA is not accurately testing cans and independent tests by consumer advocacy groups show higher mercury levels than previously thought. For that reason, eat canned tuna only once a week or not at all to avoid excess mercury exposure.)
Eating for Three
Here are some ways to increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake.
- Choose a coldwater fish such as salmon for dinner
- Make a snack of shrimp cocktail
- Order anchovies on your pizza
- Use canola, flaxseed, or walnut oil in your salad dressing
- Use olive oil instead of butter on your bread
- Sauté poultry and vegetables in canola or safflower oil instead of butter
- Take an omega-3 supplement tested for purity