Medical conditions

Some of the major and minor health problems you may face.

Gestational Diabetes, Sugar in the Urine. You will have a urine test nearly every time you see a health professional during a twin pregnancy. One common result is a raised level of sugar. If seen repeatedly this can indicate problems such as Gestational Diabetes, which can affect mother and babies.

“I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 30 weeks, and I had to start injecting insulin once a day. The needle is called a pen because this is exactly what it looks like and injecting into my thigh was really not painful. Once I got used to the diet restrictions I found many foods I could eat with just a little adaptation – vegetable curries substituting Dahl for rice etc. My blood sugar stabilised, and once I started maternity leave it was a lot easier because I didn’t have to excuse myself to do thumb prick tests or carry a day’s worth of snacks and meals. I had an insulin drip throughout my labour and delivery, and the diabetes disappeared soon after the birth.”

Leonie from East Dulwich, mum to Leah and Eve, 4
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SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction). The main symptom is pain at the front of the pelvis and while walking – and is due to loosening and misalignment of the pelvis. Experiences range from discomfort to debilitating pain. The good news is that physiotherapy and a few adjustments to movements can make a great difference. See your midwife or GP to be referred to special physiotherapy clinics if you start to feel symptoms.

High Blood Pressure and Pre-Eclampsia. Your blood pressure will be checked at every appointment. High blood pressure can be a symptom of Pre-Eclampsia; along with protein in the urine. This is serious for both mother and babies, and requires immediate medical attention. Other symptoms include swollen hands and feet, and general sickness or dizziness. Always seek help if concerned.

Vaginal Bleeding. This is a symptom that can mean minor or major problems. Always get this checked out.

TTTS (Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome). This is a rare but serious complication of a pregnancy when babies are sharing a placenta – and with it some of the same blood supply. This can mean one baby getting extra blood, and the other getting less blood.

“My twins shared a placenta but had their own amniotic sacs (MCDA). Early scans were fine, but at 17 weeks we were told the babies had developed TTTS. The scan revealed that it was severe, and we were told that if we did nothing both babies would die. The only treatment available was to drain some amniotic fluid and/or intrauterine laser surgery to sever the blood vessels connecting the babies. I had surgery within an hour of the scan. A thin tube was inserted into tummy and womb through which a tiny camera and laser were inserted. All the connecting vessels were identified and cauterised. It took about 20 minutes, and the chances of survival were given to us as 33% of both surviving, 33% of one surviving and 33% of neither surviving. The biggest risk was in the hour after the surgery but the scan later that evening showed two heartbeats. We breathed a sigh of relief at the scan a week later when we saw two healthy babies. The babies were delivered by c-section at 27 weeks – when the smaller twin’s heart rate started to drop. They spent 10 weeks in SCBU. They are now nearly two, and thriving.”

Sandra from East Dulwich, mum to Barney and Elliot, 2
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Further Reading:
‘Multiple Births – A parent’s guide to neo-natal care’ – TAMBA
‘Twin-to twin transfusion syndrome – A guide for parents’ – TAMBA
Both guides are free and can be ordered from www.tamba.org.uk
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Dulwich and District Twins Club monkeys