There are times I meet people, and while we are conversing, if the fact that I’m a mother of two sets of twins comes up, the next thing, (it almost never fails,) I hear are stories of their mother, or a relative, who was also an Iya Beji ×3 or 4, or even mom of higher multiples. The story would continue with how either all the twins died, or some survived and then, I become madly grateful for the fact that mine survived, and are doing so well. I would also thank God that I live in the 21st century, where birth control is available, and there are scans and epidurals.
An even more recent encounter happened on Sunday. I was coming back from Church, when someone on my street was saying hello to my kids, and the he told me his story – he is a twin. His twin brother died at birth, and he was told that he had travelled to London, and was not going to come back ever again. He believed this lie until he was older, and he realized that “gone to London” actually meant his twin had died. He said he was hurt that he had not been told earlier. And then he went on to tell me how his mother had another set of twins after him, and another, all of whom are still alive today.
I stood in the sun, and listened to him. I really did not know why he was telling me, because we have lived on the same street for years, and we only ever exchange polite greetings. But that day, of all days, he decided to tell me his story. Perhaps, he just wanted to talk, because I have found that talking about twins, and children in general, are a great conversation starter.
One thing that strikes me every time I hear these stories of women who give birth to a large number of children is, “How the heck did they do it?” Getting pregnant every other year, if not every year, the whole nine-month drama, and then giving birth…I just wonder. I really do wonder how they managed all the stress, and kept going through the process again and again.
If you noticed, I earlier thanked God for being in the 21st century and all the technology and innovations that had made one’s life easier, especially that of a pregnant mom. Unfortunately, pregnant woman in this century are more stressed than those from other periods, and it is mostly thanks to the innovations and technology that are supposedly meant to make life easier.
It does not matter that there has been a significant decrease in maternal and infant mortality, and other complications during pregnancy, thanks to science; the perception of people concerning pregnancy even nowadays is that pregnancy is a risky venture. And all must be done to ensure the safe delivery of a healthy baby, by a healthy mother…all of which add to the stress of pregnancy.
One of the reasons for this increased stress is one that is very close to us on this platform – Infertility. When you have struggled with infertility, and finally get pregnant, no one need tell you to take care of that pregnancy like it’s the last one you would ever have. The truth is it just might be, so you give it all you have got, which adds to stress during pregnancy.
Fertility treatment, as some women know, can be an incredibly stressful journey; physically, emotionally and financially – for women and their partners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, even scientists have discovered that women undergoing fertility treatment have significantly higher anxiety levels than women trying to conceive naturally.
And when it’s so difficult to get pregnant, the mother has extra motivation to guard against harms to the baby. Nothing must happen to the baby, so they undergo a lot of procedures like the cerclage, to ensure nothing like an incompetent cervix denies them of their baby.
Another thing that has made pregnancy so stressful nowadays is the Information overload. Dr Google is getting some serious business from pregnant women. A twinge here, a cramp there, the next thing is they are online, searching for information on that twinge and cramp. This exercise can actually raise the stress hormones of a pregnant woman. I have been down that road numerous times, and I cannot promise you that I will not check with Dr Google first before my doctor, should I feel any pain tomorrow.
And with the help of social media, I can read the story of someone who has been through a similar situation. You can bet I will believe that more than I will believe any statistics thrown my way. The danger with Dr. Google and social media sharing platforms is the fact that it causes more worries than you started out with. Sometimes, one has to consciously let go of the excess information you have read, so you can sleep peacefully. So, perhaps the ignorance of women of yonder years was what made them regular patrons of the labour room.
Pre-natal testing: Thanks to advances in prenatal testing and screening, particularly in ultrasound technology, the developing foetus is under constant “surveillance,” which helps to diagnose potential problems early.
But with that added surveillance comes more focus on risk for pregnant women. What if the test or scan shows something is wrong? You cannot imagine the worry of that period.
If an early scan (usually at 12 weeks) does indicate a higher risk for genetic disorders, Down syndrome or neural tube defects (such as spina bifida), there is often a stressful and emotional wait for confirmation testing. For Down syndrome, an amniocentesis is generally performed after 15 weeks. All of these procedures and further tests increase the risk of miscarriage, which is too much worry for a pregnant mom. Unfortunately, most moms nowadays go through it.
The impact of the stress
All of these modern stressors of pregnant moms do have an impact on the quality of life of the mothers after birth, and even the babies. Right from the womb, the baby would have been experiencing stress, which can lead to pre-term labour, low birth weight, and even affect the development of the child’s own stress response system, which may manifest as emotional and behavioural problems later in their life.
As they say, little drops of water make an ocean, so is the case with stress. Things we stress about, like traffic, work concerns, relationships, etc., can affect pregnant moms and their unborn babies. So, it has become imperative that we actively seek ways to keep stress levels down, for the sake of our longed for babies.
I know, it’s not easy, considering how stressful our environment is, but you are carrying precious cargo, so take the pressure down!
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here