Triplet pregnancies carry higher risks of complications than single pregnancies. This is a natural occurrence with multiple births that requires mothers to take some extra precautions to keep themselves and their babies healthy.
Competing for Nutrients
During a triplet pregnancy, the first few weeks find the babies developing at the same rate. Around 27th week, growth slows down and the babies start competing for nutrients and space in the womb.
Throughout the entire pregnancy, your doctor will carefully monitor the development of the triplet babies. If one of the babies is not thriving, it may be necessary to induce labor to save it. With identical triplets who share an amniotic sac, it is sometimes necessary to induce labor for all the babies to survive.
If the triplets are fraternal, then they will each have their own amniotic sac. There is a reduced chance of life-threatening complications, so labor may not need to be induced.
Another concern of a triplet pregnancy is the increased risk of placental abruption. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus wall. This cuts off oxygen and nutrients to the baby and can lead to severe bleeding in the mother. Regular ultrasounds will be performed throughout your pregnancy, often weekly, to make sure that the babies are developing normally.
Risks to the Mother
Women carrying triplets are more likely to have Preeclampsia or Gestational Diabetes.
Preeclampsia, a form of high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy, is found through the careful monitoring of blood pressure and protein levels in the urine. It can only be cured by inducing labor. If it's too soon to induce labor, the mother may be put on bed rest and her blood pressure monitored to see if the babies can stay in the womb longer.
Gestational Diabetes is an unhealthy rise in blood sugar levels caused by pregnancy. While it doesn't pose the same risk of birth defects as other forms of diabetes, it can be dangerous to the developing fetus. It can be controlled during pregnancy with daily medication.
You can deliver triplets naturally, but most women deliver their babies via Cesarean section. This greatly reduces the risk of babies getting caught in umbilical cords and strangled during labor.
With a triplet pregnancy, there is a greater chance of preterm labor, or labor that occurs before 37 weeks. Preterm babies have a lower birth weight. Anything below 5.5 pounds is considered low. A baby can still thrive at 5.5 pounds, but anything less than 3.3 pounds lowers a baby's chance of survival.
A substantial amount of triplet pregnancies end with delivery at 32 weeks. At that point, the babies may have a low birth weight but still be quite healthy. Preterm babies may have trouble breathing on their own and often can't regulate their body temperature. These conditions correct themselves as babies grow, but during the first few weeks it's often neccessary for preemies to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit. Once the babies are strong enough to survive on their own, they'll be sent home with you.
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