When a future mother finds out that she is pregnant with twins and is carrying two babies instead of a one inside of her womb, such a pregnancy is called “multiple”. The pregnant woman doesn’t suspect anything at first – early in term a gynecologist can only confirm you are in fact pregnant. But after some time, with the help of a pelvic ultrasound, the expectant mother may face a sudden revelation: “I am pregnant with twins!”
Such a diagnosis immediately doubles the woman’s responsibility. Now she knows there will be two babies and needs twice as much medical attention. She will have to attend a prenatal clinic more often, to do additional medical tests, to take better care of herself and her health.
Why does twin pregnancy happen?
Of course, a multiple pregnancy doesn’t always mean there are only two embryos developing in their mother’s womb: there can be three, four, or even five of them! But in the majority of multiple pregnancy cases a future mother is pregnant with twins.
What are the causes of twin pregnancy? Sometimes during the process of conception two egg cells are fertilized, and both of them manage to live, implant in the uterus, and begin to develop. Another cause of twin pregnancy lies in the ability of a fertilized egg cell to split in two so that two embryos are developing in the uterus.
- Medical science has concluded that the main factor affecting twin pregnancy is genetic disposition.
- The second factor which has an influence on getting pregnant with twins is the future mother’s age. Twin pregnancy usually occurs if a woman is older than 35.
- And the third factor conditioning a possible twin pregnancy is assisted reproductive technology (ART). It includes fertility medication and in vitro fertilization.
How to know you’re pregnant with twins?
Not so long (about a couple decades) ago a pregnant woman could find out she had been expecting two babies only during childbirth. Today modern technologies, such as an ultrasonic examination, make it possible for a future mother to know everything for sure in early pregnancy stages. After the 10th week of pregnancy, a doctor is able to detect the two simultaneously developing fetuses with the help of a pelvic ultrasound.
Sometimes a few individual symptoms or untypical feelings experienced by an expectant mother become a reason for suspecting a twin pregnancy. As a rule, in the case of a multiple pregnancy the morning sickness is more serious and occurs more often. Some women pregnant with twins experience much more breast pain and swelling than is normal during a singleton pregnancy.
A future mother of twins usually has an increased appetite (she’s eating for three, after all!) and needs more sleep. The weight gain during twin pregnancy is very quick and considerable as well.
In the 13th week of pregnancy, your doctor should be able to hear the double heartbeat during the examination, and that’s another proof you are expecting twins.
Pregnant with twins: the normal babies’ weight
If the pregnancy takes its normal course and the pregnant woman is doing alright she should visit a prenatal clinic once in every ten days (after the 24th week of pregnancy – once a week). Future mothers pregnant with twins are often concerned their babies will be born underweight, but their worries are completely unnecessary.
As a rule, each twin weighs only 0.8 lb. less than an average newborn baby. And when during a singleton pregnancy an expectant mother normally gains 22-26 pounds, in twin pregnancy the weight gain can reach 33 pounds.
If a future mother gains weight quickly and by the end of the term it’s far more than normal the delivery can be complicated. That’s why monitoring weight is very important, especially in twin pregnancy.
The risks of a twin pregnancy
Of course, any pregnant woman needs medical attention and care. But in the case of a twin pregnancy, the responsibility is twice as high. The stress her organism is going through doubles, and that means a double risk. Women pregnant with twins always belong to a risk group.
- The first risk of a twin pregnancy is toxicosis. Morning sickness is often accompanied by vomiting. And this leads to dehydration, disruption of the blood flow, and all kinds of negative consequences, such as a miscarriage or premature birth.
- The second risk for a future mother’s health is iron deficiency (anemia). This disorder also may lead to the disruption in the fetal development of both babies and puts a strain on an expectant mother’s body.
- Varicose veins are another risk during a twin pregnancy. They appear because the cardiac muscle becomes overloaded and the weight gain is too quick.
All these risk factors may entail premature labor which is not the best outcome of a multiple pregnancy.
What’s the safe course of action when you’re pregnant with twins?
In order to avoid the complications of a twin pregnancy, an expectant mother should follow all the recommendations provided by her doctor. She should take the best care of herself and pay a lot of attention to the state of her organism.
First of all, a woman pregnant with twins should adhere to a specific daily routine and rest most of the time. It’s a mandatory condition if she wants the best for herself and her babies. She may even need a constant bed rest if her state of health worsens.
Monitor your weight and follow the prescribed diet. In order to keep your weight normal and provide your babies with all the necessary nutrients, you should eat a lot of iron-containing products and take folic acid and other vitamins your doctor has prescribed. Your diet should definitely include cereal, beef, liver, beans, melon, and spinach. Eat in small portions, but twice as often than before pregnancy.
It’s very important to notice any change in your condition during a twin pregnancy. If you feel any pain or unpleasant sensations – consult a health professional.
The delivery of twins
As a rule, any twin pregnancy ends in giving birth after the 37th week. It happens because the strain on the uterus is too much. If by the end of the 39th week of pregnancy you’re still not going into labor, this raises the question of stimulating the contractions.
Doctors recommend that women pregnant with twins choose a C-section rather than natural birth. The surgery is safer for the health and psyche of both babies. C-section is also recommended to the women whose babies are too big. And, of course, a pregnant woman will need a surgery if there are any contraindications for the natural birth because of physiological reasons.
There is a number of medical indications for a C-section in the case of a multiple pregnancy:
- One of the babies (or both of them) has taken a wrong position (breech presentation);
- Hypoxia of one or both babies;
- The total weight of the babies is over 13 pounds.
If there are no indications for a C-section a woman can give a natural birth. Statistically, every second twin pregnancy ends in a successful natural birth. As a rule, the twins are born with an interval of 10-15 minutes.