Being pregnant with more than one baby is called a multiple pregnancy. A multiple pregnancy can be twins (two babies), triplets (three babies), or more. Today, twins are born once in about every 41 births. Having twins can bring great joy and rewards to a family. Sometimes, however, it can also pose a risk to the mother and her babies. Complications can occur that require special care.
Facts About Twins
Twins can be either identical or fraternal. Most are fraternal twins – each develops from a separate egg and sperm. Fraternal twins each have their own placenta and amniotic sac. Because each twin develops from the union of a different egg and a different sperm, these twins may not look alike. The twins can be boys, girls, or one of each.
Identical twins are more rare. They occur when one fertilized egg splits early in the pregnancy and develops into two fetuses. Identical twins may share a placenta, but each baby usually has its own amnioti=c sac. Identical twins are the same sex and have the same blood type, hair color, and eye color, and they look very much alike.
Some families are likely than others to have twins. Women who take fertility drugs also have a higher chance of having twins. Sine these drugs can cause more than one egg to be released from the ovaries at once, multiple fertilization becomes more likely.
Most twins are diagnosed before delivery. Your doctor may tell you that you are carrying twins if:
- Your uterus grows more quickly or is larger than expected
- More than on fetal heartbeat can be heard
- You feel more fetal movement than you did in any pregnancies you had before
- An ultrasound exam done for other reasons detects twins
Some twins are found when other prenatal tests are done. If a twin pregnancy is suspected, an ultrasound may be done to confirm it. The test also may be able to tell if the twins are identical or fraternal.
You will need special prenatal care with twins. You will need to see your doctor more often and you may have more medical tests. Plan to take childbirth classes during your 4th to 6th month. Ask about special classes for parents expecting twins. If there isn’t one convenient for you, talk to your doctor about getting one started.
When pregnant with twins, you will need to eat more than if you were carrying one baby. Eating well and gaining weight are important for your health and the health of your twins. Your body must nourish the babies and meet your energy needs as well. You will need to eat about 2,700 calories every day. Your doctor will prescribe extra vitamins and minerals to help your babies grow. Anemia (iron-poor blood) is more common in woman pregnant with twins, so it’s especially important to take your prenatal vitamins and iron as prescribed. Folic acid is also important for twins. It is hard to get all the folic acid you need just from your diet, so you should take folic acid along with the prenatal vitamin. You should gain more weight when carrying twins than if you were having only one baby. Plan to gain 35-45 pounds. In the first half of pregnancy, you should gain about 1 pound each week. In the second half, aim for a little over 1 pound each week. If you are underweight, you may need to gain more.
Having twins can be an exciting time. You can give your babies the best possible start by taking good care of yourself. Learn the warning signs of problems, and talk to us about your questions or concerns. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.