While the actual stages of pregnancy aren’t necessarily much different with multiple fetuses such as in the case of triplets, expectant parents must keep an even more watchful eye than usual during such pregnancies. Women who are expecting triplets tend to experience more pregnancy-related complications than women who are expecting twins or a single baby, according to both the March of Dimes and the American Pregnancy Association.
The First Trimester
During the earliest stages of the first trimester, you may not yet realize that you are expecting triplets. If you are over 30 or have had fertility treatments, you are much more likely to conceive triplets or even four or more children. Triplets can result from three different eggs being fertilized by sperm during conception, or in some cases a single fertilized egg splitting into three.
Telltale signs that can help you and your doctor determine that you’re carrying multiple babies include rapid weight gain, severe morning sickness and significant fetal movement. But the only surefire way to determine if you’re expecting triplets is a fetal ultrasound.
The Second Trimester
The second trimester, a crucial fetal development stage during any type of pregnancy, plays even more significance for the mother expecting triplets, notes both the March of Dimes and the American Pregnancy Association. Since the risk of premature labor is significantly higher for moms of triplets and other multiples, you and your doctor must keep a careful eye on any signs of premature delivery. Eating the right foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and following your doctor’s instructions on how much extra food you must consume each day helps ensure that each fetus has the best chance to grow and thrive in the womb and beyond.
Generally, you’ll have to eat at least 500 more calories each day if you’re expecting triplets. You also must monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure, as moms expecting triplets are more likely to suffer from potentially life-threatening problems with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
The Third Trimester
While most pregnancies last 40 weeks, moms with triplets usually give birth around 32 weeks, notes both the American Pregnancy Association and the March of Dimes. As long as your babies aren’t born extremely early, they should all survive and live normal lives without significant disabilities. To prevent increasing the chances of premature labor, many doctors order moms expecting triplets to go on bed rest around 20 to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. Also, when it is time for you to deliver those babies you will likely require a cesarean section to ensure your safety and the safety of your children. Low birth weight is common among triplets, with each child usually weighing about 5 lbs. or less.