Many questions arise once you find out that you are pregnant with twins. Two babies!
Most women are just expecting to welcome a baby into their lives, so getting the 'whole package' may be a little shocking in the beginning. Double work, maybe, but double happiness after all! The odds of having twins in the UK nowadays is about 1.5 in 100, in other words, 1.5%, so it's not that common.
At this point, you may know how the process of twin pregnancy works; it can either happen when two different eggs get fertilised and are implanted in the uterus simultaneously (fraternal twins) or when a single fertilised egg is divided into two separate embryos. This leads to identical twins, which may or not develop in the same placenta.
If you are pregnant with twins, either fraternal or identical, you need to know what to expect in comparison to having a single baby on the way. That's why we want to offer you a list of what we consider to be essential twin pregnancy information.
1- In twin pregnancy, age and science matter
Though we've already said that twin pregnancy rates are low, you have to know that these have increased a lot over the last decades. There are two reasons to explain why: on the one hand, because as time goes by, people tend to have children at an older age than they used to in the past. Along with complications, experts state that when you are in your 30s or 40s, you are more likely to become pregnant with twins, since your menstrual cycles turn to be more irregular (and ovaries may release two eggs at a time, instead!).
On the other hand, modern fertility treatment options, like in vitro fertilisation, increase the chances of you to carrying two babies instead of one. Why? Well, because when undergoing such treatments, women usually have three fertilised eggs implanted in the wall of their uterus.
2- Will I gain more weight if I’m pregnant with twins?
Weight gain is often a matter of concern among expectant mothers, either because they put on too much or, on the contrary, they need extra kilos. Of course, a lot of them worry about how to get rid of such an additional weight after delivery. These doubts generally multiply when being pregnant with twins, but does this really affect weight gain? Yes, it does! Keep in mind that your body will probably be hosting two placentas, two babies and extra amniotic fluid. Considering this, studies recommend that women expecting twins should gain:
- 16-24 kg: those women of normal weight
- 14-22 kg: women who are overweight
- 11-19 kg: obese women
However, talking to your doctor about your personal situation is always necessary.
3- Will I have to take more prenatal vitamins?
Regarding prenatal vitamins, sure you'll have to increase the dosage of folic acid before and during pregnancy, in order to keep your future babies from neural tube defects (mainly, spina bifida and anencephaly). If expectant mums have to take 400 micrograms a day in singleton pregnancies, this dosage doubles (1 mg) when it comes to having twins. The intake of other prenatal vitamins, like calcium, iron and vitamin D, will also depend on what your body is able to get from foods. Obviously, the doctor will help you out with these ones.
4- Will pregnancy symptoms feel worse?
Twin pregnancy may feel a little bit rougher than a singleton one, since your body will have higher levels of pregnancy hormones, which cause most of the pregnancy symptoms that drive expectant mums crazy. The side effects that may be heightened when being pregnant with twins are nausea and vomiting, along with shortness of breath and spotting. Along with these, expect to suffer from more constipation, heartburn and bloating, because your body has to host two babies instead of one, but within the same space.
In the last stage of your pregnancy, it's normal to have severe back pain and muscle strains, due to extra weight.
5- Should I schedule more visits to the doctor?
As you may guess, the answer is also yes. Though carrying twins isn't a synonym of more complications, you'll be offered more regular ultrasounds and check-ups than in a singleton pregnancy. Don't forget that the doctor will be checking the health of the three of you, and that requires additional monitoring. The number of antenatal appointments will depend on different factors, such as possible complications or your babies sharing or not a placenta.
6- Does it pose more risks for me and the babies?
Mums-to-be usually get extra worried when they find out that they are pregnant with twins. It can be a stressful situation, especially for those who don't know the actual consequences of carrying more than one baby. The majority of twins are born healthy, which is a fact that you shouldn't forget. However, experts do admit that having twins put you at a higher risk of developing conditions like preeclampsia, high blood pressure, anemia and gestational diabetes. Yet again, that doesn't mean that you are necessarily going be diagnosed with any of them.
On top of those possible complications, twin pregnancy increases the likelihood of going into labour earlier, around 36 or 37 weeks pregnant. That said, as long as twins are born after week 34, there shouldn't be any problems, like low birth weight (although twin babies are usually smaller). Regarding delivery, you need to know that C-sections are absolutely more common too, since there's a higher incidence of babies coming in breech position when they are twins.
So what do you think? If you are pregnant with twins, try not to feel intimidated. It's definitely a more challenging situation, but if you do the right things, it's going to be ok. Don't forget to have plenty of rest and, if you don't feel well, don't hesitate to take maternity leave no matter how early that happens. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the fact of having twins, talk to your doctor and family about it, so that you can get as much help as needed. This is the best opportunity to count on your people!