Things You Need to Know If you’re Pregnant with Twins
A twin pregnancy is a double blessing, but it can also carry greater risks than singleton pregnancies.
Twins account for over 90 per cent of multiple births. There are two types of twins– identical (monozygotic) and fraternal (dizygotic). To form identical twins, one fertilised egg (ovum) splits and develops two babies with exactly the same genetic information.
1. You are technically a high-risk patient
The risk of many potential pregnancy complications – including preterm delivery, cesarean birth, pre-eclampsia (a blood pressure disorder) and gestational diabetes – is elevated among women carrying multiples, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s why you need to be especially careful about following your OB-GYN’s recommendations for visits, screenings and other care. “With that extra diligence, we can hopefully keep risks of adverse outcomes at a minimum,”
2. You should ask if you have multiple placentas
While all identical twins share a placenta, fraternal twins or other multiples may not – and sharing has implications for their health, since one developing baby may get the shorter end of the nutrient-and-blood stick, says Dr. Mary Norton, president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and a perinatologist and medical geneticist at the UCSF Medical Center. “Like any siblings,” she says, “if they’re sharing, they don’t always share well.” In that case, moms-to-be need closer and more frequent monitoring.
3. There’s a good chance you’ll deliver early
The most common risk of carrying multiples is preterm delivery. “For each additional fetus that’s in there, you deliver about a month earlier. Average twins deliver around 36 weeks instead of the 39 to 40 weeks that’s considered full-term for singletons. “Most babies do fine [when they’re delivered at 36 weeks], but they’re at higher risk for complications, such as respiratory, cognitive and other short- and long-term problems. Again, that means it’s important to talk to your doctor about what symptoms might signal an early labor. Worry a little bit more about things that might be common symptoms that could be premature labor if you’re pregnant with twins.
4. You’ll be a regular at the doctor’s office
Twin pregnancies require more monitoring than single pregnancies. “We tend to do more frequent ultrasounds for growth in twin pregnancies, compared with one anatomy scan and one growth scan in a singleton pregnancy.”
But along with additional testing comes risk. For example, the chance of miscarriage after amniocentesis is higher in twin pregnancies. “You are sticking the mother twice, so if the risk of miscarriage is one of 1,000 in singleton pregnancies, it would increase it to one in 500 for twins.”
5. You’ll get bigger faster
“Women pregnant with multiples should be prepared to have a lack of clothes at the end – especially tops,” says Blair, who now relies on leggings, long tank tops and maternity shirts. “[My tops] no longer cover my full belly.” Her exercise routine also took a hit earlier this time around, which is to be expected, although movement is still recommended during pregnancy with multiples, “[Women] will be more fatigued, their hips will hurt, their joints will hurt,” and “It’s just not going to be the same.”