Twins are more common than we might imagine. They account for 90 percent of multiple births. The prevalence of twin births has doubled from 1980 through 2009. Over the three decades, the twin birth rate rose by 76 percent, in the United States alone.
Twins occur when two separate eggs become fertilized in the womb resulting in fraternal, non-identical twins, or, when a single fertilized egg splits into two embryos which means that the embryos have identical genes. Identical twins are the same sex and look very much alike. The chances of having fraternal twins are higher than identical twins, with the later accounting for only about one-third of multiple pregnancies.
Since women are starting families a bit later in life, probably from what was considered traditional, the likelihood of them having twins or multiples is higher. A woman is more likely to become pregnant with twins naturally when she is in her 30s and 40s. Reason being that the ovulatory cycle of women above 30 years is not regular anymore. Hence, they could be ovulating two follicles at the same time.
Emotionally, the news of having twins is received differently. Parents may experience feelings of joy, anxiety, unhappiness, shock, being overwhelmed — and these reactions more often depend on their lives, expectations and circumstances. Give yourselves time to make sense of what is happening. Do not at any time feel guilty for the emotions you are experiencing. You will find that your emotions will unravel as time goes — one day you’ll be over the moon with excitement, and the next wondering how you will manage or vice versa. Here are some of the ‘need to know’ that will make your experience more pleasant.
Pregnancy symptoms maybe a bit much with twin pregnancies
Minor pregnancy symptoms including nausea, sleeping difficulties, tiredness, heartburn, back pain, vomiting, hemorrhoids may be slightly exaggerated for women expecting twins or multiples. This is due to the high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone which is higher in twin pregnancies. Take heart, for most moms, morning sickness abates within the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Because of the physical demands on your body, you might require more help and you probably should take leave off work earlier at about 24-26 weeks if your work is more stressful or strenuous. Again, don’t beat yourself up. Most workplace policies are more progressive nowadays and offer better work conditions for women and minorities. Now maybe a good time to delve into your workplace policies if you haven’t already and ask the tough questions around inclusivity or the values espoused in your policies. Are they active? Or just pretty on paper. Arrange for support within your networks during and after your pregnancy to provide you with ample rest, respite and emotional support.
Women pregnant with twins undergo more prenatal tests and need more prenatal care
Twin and multiple pregnancies require more monitoring and extra care than single pregnancies, since they are classified as high-risk pregnancies. The frequency of ultrasounds to monitor growth of twin pregnancies is higher, compared to one growth scan and one anatomy scan in a singleton pregnancy. Ultrasounds can also check the length of the cervix and in the last few weeks, to assess the babies’ positions. If your twins share one placenta, you will automatically have a more frequent monitoring schedule. With the extra testing and monitoring, it is easy to focus on all the things that could go wrong, but try as much as you can to keep positive.
Since twin pregnancies increase your chances of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, these tests are important to track your health and that of your baby. With twins more weight gain is expected as you need more calories and also because you are carrying two babies, two placentas and more amniotic fluid.
For twin pregnancies labor and delivery may be preterm
The full gestation period of the average pregnancy is 40 weeks, however, half of twin pregnancies end in preterm delivery — before 37 weeks and some even earlier. As a result of being born early, twins may be born at low birth weights where they weigh less than 2500 grams (5.5 pounds). There is no evidence that measures to mitigate preterm labor and delivery are effective. However, you can find a doctor who specializes in twin pregnancy and plan to deliver your babies is a facility that can care for premature babies.
Cesarean section deliveries are more common in twin pregnancies
Although labor is generally the same whether you are having a singleton or multiples, delivery is significantly different. When delivering twins or multiples, you will be taken to an operating room even if delivering vaginally. This double setup is a safety precaution. However, you may not need a cesarean section since 40 percent of twin births are vaginal.