A Guide To Having Twins
Expecting twins? You’re not alone. About 4 in every 100 births in the U.S are twin births. For most women, being pregnant with twins comes with a lot of joy and anxiety. This guide will help you find out what to expect during your pregnancy.
Signs You May Be Pregnant with Twins
Your hCG levels are high: When you do a blood test to confirm that you are indeed pregnant, your human chorionic gonadotropin levels are measured. If it’s greater than normal, you may be having twins. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not a definitive indicator, some single-baby pregnancies are also marked by elevated hCG levels.
Your pregnancy symptoms are more intense: When pregnant with twins, your pregnancy symptoms may be more intense. Pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and nausea are closely related to changes in hormones, especially the hCG hormone. With a twin pregnancy, the changes in your hormones are even more substantial than in a single baby pregnancy. As a result of this, you’ll most likely have exaggerated or more severe symptoms. You’re also more likely to have light bleeding/spotting early on in the pregnancy.
Your belly seems bigger than it should be: If in the course of pregnancy you look further along than you are, it may be that you’re pregnant with twins.
Twins run in your family, or you’ve had a fertility treatment: Twins do run in certain families, and science says that non-identical twins run on the mother’s side of the family, most likely because of an inherited predisposition to release more than one egg during ovulation. Fertility treatments like IVF also significantly increase your likelihood of having twins.
The only way to confirm if you are carrying twins is by doing an ultrasound. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for too long to find out; twins can now be detected by ultrasound as early as seven weeks into the pregnancy.
Identical Twins vs. Fraternal Twins
There are two types of twins: identical and non-identical (or fraternal). Non-identical twins are more common, accounting for about two-thirds of all twins.
Identical twin (monozygotic): Identical twin pregnancies develop when a single fertilized egg splits into two and then grows into two genetically identical babies. Identical twins are always of the same sex, and they look very much alike. About 70% of identical twins are monochorionic, meaning they share the same placenta, although they almost always have separate amniotic sacs.
Non-identical twin (dizygotic): Also known as fraternal twins, they develop when two distinct eggs are fertilized with two different sperms. They have as much chance of looking alike as normal siblings do, and they may be of the same sex or different sexes. All non-identical twins are dichorionic, which means they have separate placentas and amniotic sacs.
Can You Find Out What Type of Twins You’re Carrying?
You usually discover the type of twins you’re carrying early in the first trimester. When you have your first ultrasound scan, the sonographer should be able to see if your babies share the same placenta or not. As most identical twins share a placenta, seeing two placentas mean you’re likely caring for fraternal twins!
Lots of people wonder how to get pregnant with twins. The truth is that there’s no guaranteed method of achieving this. Undergoing an IVF or using fertility drugs boosts your chances of conceiving twins. Being older (late ’30s) helps too, as women often times start to release more than one egg during ovulation when they’re getting close to menopause. It also may help if you take folic acid supplements too!
Is Antenatal Care With Twin Pregnancies Similar to That of Regular Pregnancies?
The short answer to that question is no! Being pregnant with multiple babies means that you have to take extra care.
- You will undergo more tests: Because some of the risks associated with normal pregnancies are amplified with twin pregnancies, you will likely undergo more tests than usual, so that your health and that of your babies can be monitored properly.
- More time will be spent with your obstetrician: Twin pregnancies carry more risks, so it only follows that your obstetrician will spend more time monitoring you to make sure everything goes smoothly.
- More prenatal vitamins: Your OB/GYN may likely recommend that you take additional prenatal vitamins. These extra vitamins and minerals, especially iron and folic acid, are particularly important in twin pregnancies. Your doctor will tell you exactly what you need and recommend the dose for you. Do not take any extra supplements without the doctor approval!
Are the Risks Associated with Single-baby Pregnancies and Births the Same with Having Twins?
Once again, the answer is no!
- The risk of developing gestational diabetes is higher.
- The risk of having preeclampsia is increased.
- There’s a higher chance you’ll have a preterm birth. Over 50% of twins are born before they reach full term which is 37 weeks. This is compared to the estimated 10% of single-baby births that are premature.
- Twins weigh less than single babies when born. Roughly half of twins fall under the description of low birth weight (under 5.5 pounds).
- The likelihood of you having to undergo a cesarean section is higher when you’re pregnant with twins.
How to Eat Healthy With Twins
Eating healthy and gaining weight is essential for every healthy pregnancy, but the rules and guidelines are a bit different for women carrying twins The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends an extra 300 extra calories daily for each fetus. This means that you need to eat an extra 600 calories daily for your twins to develop well.
For twin pregnancy, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) recommends a weight gain of:
- 16.8–24.5 kg (37–54 lb) for women of normal weight
- 14.1–22.7 kg (31–50 lb) for overweight women
- 11.3–19.1 kg (25–42 lb) for obese women
Exercising when pregnant with twins
It’s necessary for you to stay active if you’re expecting twins, but you must be extra careful with it and avoid difficult exercises. Low impact activities such a swimming, walking, and prenatal yoga are suitable. The ACOG recommends 30 minutes of exercise daily. If complications or issues arise during your pregnancy, your physician may recommend that you discontinue any and all exercise.
How Does Cord Blood Banking Benefit Twins?
Cord blood banking is something every family should consider when expecting a new baby, but families expecting twins have further cause to consider the benefits of keeping the valuable stem cells in cord blood.
Twins have a high likelihood of matching each other in the event one needs the other’s banked cord blood. With fraternal twins, this opens up greater possibilities of treating genetic conditions, as one twin may not have the same condition as the other (unlike with identical twins). But in any type of twin birth, collecting further matched cord blood increases treatment options for your medical team in the unfortunate event that one of them falls ill with a condition treatable with cord blood. Depending on treatment needs, doctors sometimes use multiple units of cord blood in one transplant.
Public cord blood banks do not accept donations from twins as they fear the cord blood units may be mixed with you during birth. This fear is unfounded as OB/GYNs are trained to keep track of the babies during delivery. Private banks like Americord Registry have no problems accepting cord blood from twin babies.
Why Should You Choose Americord?
Choosing Americord is choosing the best customer service and the industry leader in innovation.
We were founded in 2008 with a commitment to helping our customers and their children live healthier, longer lives. Our work reflects that: highly-trained customer service personnel, white-glove medical courier service, and flexible payment options to make cord blood banking accessible and affordable for more families are just a few ways we strive to serve our clients.
Americord also continues to drive innovation in the cord blood and stem cell banking industry. Our Cord Blood 2.0 process allows us to collect up to twice the stem cells as our competitors. We pioneered cord and placental tissue banking and are still one of the only banks to offer both services. We continuously engage with other institutions to drive the research that will make regenerative medicine more viable in the future, not just for our clients, but for everyone.
Want to know more? Give our team of stem cells specialists at call at (866) 503 6005 and find out if Americord and cord blood banking are the right choices for your family.
- Mann, D. (2008, June 3). 11 things you didn’t know about twin pregnancies. WebMD.
- Website, N. (2022, October 21). Pregnant with twins. nhs.uk.
- ACOG: Resources and Publications
- Multiple pregnancy. (n.d.). ACOG.
- Parent, T. (2013, June 18). A guide to expecting twins - Today’s Parent. Today’s Parent.
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