There are likely 101 — or more — worries a mom-to-be might have about her pending delivery and the health of her newborn. Katie Ferrano, already a mother to a baby girl, multiplied those worries by four when she and her husband, Charlie, learned Katie was pregnant with quadruplets.
“How sick are they going to be? What sort of surgeries might they need? How long will they be in the NICU?” Katie says she and Charlie wondered. “Having four babies, and potentially, four very sick babies, you hope and pray for the best, certainly. But to be a realist, it might not all be as wonderful as you hope.”
The Ferranos’ concerns were not unfounded. According to Dr. Joanna Adamczak, a maternal fetal medicine specialist with Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, there are increased rates of preterm delivery, stillbirth and chromosomal abnormalities with the birth of multiples, making Katie’s pregnancy very high-risk.
However, the Ferranos’ hopes for four healthy babies became a reality when she delivered her children during a scheduled C-section after 34 weeks of a healthy pregnancy with no hospitalizations. Dr. Adamczak credited Katie’s self-care for the “amazing” outcome.
“Katie is very educated in terms of nutrition,” she says. “She did her part by eating a well-balanced diet, attending all of her additional prenatal visits, gaining an appropriate amount of weight and staying physically active.”
Dr. Adamczak says she advises women pregnant with multiples to follow some simple guidelines:
- Talk with your doctor about increased risk for gestational diabetes and preterm delivery, and follow recommendations regarding physical activity.
- If activity is encouraged, enjoy moderate cardiovascular activity for 20 to 30 minutes each day. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise because it limits stress on your lower spine and joints. Yoga is also a good choice, but only if it is prenatal yoga taught by a specialist who understands which positions are safe for pregnant women.
- Be cautious about weight gain. If your pre-pregnancy weight was normal, it is advised you gain 40 to 55 pounds during pregnancy with twins, with a few more pounds allowed for each additional baby.
- Attend all of your prenatal visits, which are more than those attended by women pregnant with one baby.
- Take prenatal vitamins along with increased folic acid as prescribed by your doctor.
- Tour the NICU to know what to expect and become familiar with the sights and sounds you may experience there if your babies are admitted after delivery.
Although each of the Ferranos’ four infants — three boys and one girl — did spend time in the NICU as expected, all four were home within 30 days of their delivery and are thriving.
“You hope and pray for the best, but the odds of a 37-year-old woman having four genetically normal babies are so low,” says Katie. “Sometimes, you actually get what you wish for.”
For information on preventing birth defects and premature birth, Dr. Adamczak encourages parents of multiples to visit the March of Dimes website at www.marchofdimes.org.
View the video above for more about Katie’s story.