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Triplets

Having triplets used to be a rare and wondrous occurrence; however, triplets now account for one out of every 8000 live births - 100 times as many as 20 years ago! This is due to the increased use of fertility drugs, as well as the increasing number of older mothers, who are more prone to multiple births. Here's all you need to know about carrying and delivering three bundles of joy.

There are four ways to conceive triplets:

  • Fraternal triplets are created when three eggs are released and each is fertilized by a different sperm.

  • Identical triplets are created when only one egg is released and fertilized, but splits, and then one half splits again.

  • Mixed triplets - two identical and one fraternal - occur when two eggs are released and fertilized separately, and one of those fertilized eggs splits again.

  • Fraternal triplets may occur during IVF fertility treatment. Typically, three or more fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus to grow. Three to four percent of pregnancies jump-started by infertility drugs lead to triplets.

In order to successfully carry three babies, you need to gain at least 50 pounds over the course of 32 to 33 weeks, the usual gestation period of triplets. You will need to consume 200 grams of protein daily, plenty of salt, and enough iron, calcium, folic acid, and other nutrients to support all of your needs.

After about 20 weeks, you may no longer be able to work or function normally. You may also need bedrest and to monitor any contractions two or more times a day to watch for preterm labor. If you do go into preterm labor, you may be given magnesium sulfate, to stop the contractions. Unfortunately, the magnesium sulfate will leave you very weak, drained and with double or blurred vision. But it can help keep your precious babies stay inside of you for as long as possible so they have the best chance for growing strong and healthy.

There is a 60 percent chance that multiple babies will be born prematurely or weigh less than five and one-half pounds. These little babies and preemies need special (and expensive) care and are often hospitalized for weeks or even months after birth. You may need extra care as well. Medical complications such as preeclampsia or toxemia are relatively common in mothers of multiples. However, because the number of multiple births is increasing, medical science is able to care for you and your babies better than ever.

You will need to buy a triple stroller and three bouncy seats, three high chairs, three car seats, bottle props, and other necessities. You may survive the early years of parenting triplets if you also set up more than one diaper changing area, a refrigerator and microwave in the nursery, and a special gated area of your house in which your babies will be completely safe. Another crucial investment is a video camera with which you can create a visual baby book and capture the joy (and chaos) of these first few years.

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