Twins are the double gift of baby love. And truthfully, they can also be the double gift of body havoc. Some women get back to their pre-baby bodies after twins, but many new moms of twins find that it's just not the case for them, and that's OK. Pregnancy changes our bodies in so many temporary and irreversible ways. Whether you're pregnant with twins for the first time, or in the beginning stages of your postpartum journey you may be wondering how having twins affects your body later in life.
For starters, being pregnant with multiples often stretches the skin more than a single pregnancy would. Many moms of multiples report having sagging, excess skin (or "twin skin") after childbirth. Often, the flapping skin includes the presence of stretch marks. Stretch marks are incredibly common during pregnancy and postpartum for singleton and multiple pregnancies, with 90 percent of women getting stretch marks after their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, according to Web MD. The same Web MD article noted that genetics also plays a big role in whether you get stretch marks or not. Moms of multiples can expect stretch marks to show up on their breasts or bellies. Their appearance will appear red or purple at first, but will eventually fade to a grayish or white color postpartum and will continue to fade for many years.
A mother of twins can also expect longer-lived changes to occur below the surface of her skin as well. Beyond belly and skin stretching, there is another common condition that impacts the abdomen. Distasis recti can occur when the abdominal muscles are stretched so much and for a long period of time that a space develops in between the muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. The physical result often looks like a gap in between the right and left belly with a bulge on either side or the lower abdomen. Many women with the condition report looking pregnant far after they've given birth. According to the Mayo Clinic distasis recti is common in women who have larger babies or have multiples, and Web MD estimated that two thirds of pregnant women develop distasis recti. The muscles often go back to closer to their original position over the course of a year or two, but sometimes they don't. If distasis recti is bothering you from a pain perspective, you can do physical therapy to help. But if you're also concerned about your distasis recti from a physical appearance perspective, or you have hernias as a result of the distasis recti, you can opt for surgical routes that will help with both and last beyond the postpartum phase. Shapewear can help too, but squeezing yourself into a human sausage case is not usually fun or comfortable.
The other area that can stretch deep inside is your bladder, and the effects could last well beyond those initial months after childbirth. Fit Pregnancy noted that ten to 20 percent of women report having urinary leakage, or incontinence, five years after delivery. Incontinence is defined by the Mayo Clinic as loss of bladder control either when you cough or sneeze, or you may feel the urge to pee come on strong and not be able to get to a bathroom in time. Pregnancy stretches the pelvic muscles to great lengths, and sometimes the stretching is so much that it either takes a long time (and serious pelvic floor exercises) to recover completely, or it may require prescription medications, and even surgery down the road.
There are so many physiological changes that occur to a woman's body while she is pregnant. Some of these changes, as you might assume, would be amplified by the added weight of a multiple pregnancy. As much as society touts and glorifies "bouncing back," for some, if not most women, it's a completely unrealistic expectation and it's actually quite damaging to women overall. There may be permanent changes that happen to women after pregnancy, especially after carrying multiples, both physically and emotionally. Treating any complications you may have experienced as a result of pregnancy will be paramount to your health, and accepting that these things sometimes happen is important to your well-being.