Pregnancy

Twin Pregnancies

Many women are delaying pregnancy into their 30s and beyond. This leads to age-related hormonal changes that cause more than one egg to be released at a time, which can result in conceiving non-identical or fraternal twins.

Older women are more likely to use reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization in order to conceive. This technology implants more than one fertilized egg in the uterus. This often results in twins or other multiples.

How Are Multiples Made?
Non-identical twins occur when two different sperm fertilize two different eggs at the same time. Each twin will have his or her own placenta and amniotic sac. The twins may be two girls, two boys or a boy and a girl. Genetically, they will be no more alike than any other siblings.

When a single fertilized egg splits and forms into two fetuses, it results in identical twins. Identical twins may share one placenta, but each baby will have a separate amniotic sac. Genetically, the two babies will be identical. They’ll be of same sex and look exactly alike.

Triplets and other higher numbers of multiples may be identical, fraternal or a combination of both. However, these births are rare.

How to Diagnose
Typically, a twin pregnancy can be diagnosed well before delivery. The first and easiest way to discover a twin pregnancy is that the uterus will be larger than normal and there will be more than one fetal heartbeat. Certain blood tests can also help in identifying twins or other multiples.

A suspected twin pregnancy can be confirmed with the help of an ultrasound. During this exam, images of your uterus and baby or babies are created with sound waves. Sometimes, a normal twin pregnancy results in only one baby. Experts are not sure why it happens.

What Does a Twin Pregnancy Means for the Mother?
Here’s what women carrying twins can expect during their pregnancies:

More side effects
Carrying multiples intensifies common pregnancy complaints like nausea, vomiting, insomnia, heartburn and fatigue.

More frequent checkups
You may have to see your health care provider more often to check your babies’ growth and development. You may also have to monitor your health and signs of preterm labor. This may mean visiting your doctor every other week during the second trimester and once in a week during the third trimester.

More nutrients
A twin or multiples pregnancy means a woman needs more folic acid, protein calcium, iron, and other essential nutrients. Eating healthy food and taking a daily prenatal vitamin are essential for women carrying twins. Iron supplements are also recommended. Consult your health care provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy.

More weight gain
Gain the right amount of weight to support your babies’ health. Also, planning your weight gain properly will make it easier to shed those extra pounds after delivery. For twins, the recommended weight gain is often 35 to 45 pounds. This means a consumption of about 2,700 calories a day. Work with your doctor to determine what’s right for you.

More precautions
Women pregnant with twins or multiples may have to take precautions regarding work, travel and exercise as their pregnancies progress.  Get advice from your health care provider regarding any precautions.

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