Having twins or multiples is no longer a rarity. The incidence of twins and multiples is fairly common now – due to the average increase in maternal age and various assisted reproductive therapies. The chances of conceiving twins increase for women over the age of 35 and ovulation-inducing drugs (infertility treatment) and in-vitro fertilization increase the odds of having twins and multiples. And today, twins account for over 90 per cent of multiple births.
Twins Are Of Two Types:
Identical twins are formed when one fertilised egg (ovum) splits and develops two babies with exactly the same genetic information. So identical twins will be of the same sex, will have the same eye and hair colour and even the same blood group. They also share the same placenta.
Fraternal twins are formed when two eggs (ova) are fertilised by two sperm to produce two genetically unique children, who are no more alike than individual siblings born at different times. So are totally different in every aspect. Conceiving fraternal twins could also run in the family and contrary to popular belief, they do not necessarily skip a generation.
Signs Of A Multiple Pregnancy
More Nausea or Morning Sickness
Having more than one baby means elevated levels of hCG – that early pregnancy hormone. Higher levels of hCG also make it more likely that you will have bouts of morning (or all-day) sickness.
Exaggerated Pregnancy Symptoms
With all those extra hormones circulating through their system, you may find that your breasts are very tender, you have to urinate frequently, you are hungry all the time and you are very tired. In the second trimester, you may experience difficulty catching your breath, swelling (edema) of the hands and legs, an unusual rate of weight gain, abdominal enlargement and excessive fetal movement. Anemia or low iron (decreased hemoglobin) is also common with twin and multiple pregnancies.
Rapid Weight Gain In The First Trimester
A higher than average weight gain in the first trimester may be your first clue that you’re carrying more than one baby. If you’re eating well, there is no need to be concerned as early weight gain is essential for twin pregnancies.
Too Large For Gestational Age
At your first exam you may be told that your uterus is “large for dates”. For example, at 8 weeks gestation your uterus may feel more like 10 to 12 weeks. And as your pregnancy progresses, your fundal height (uterine measurement) will consistently measure large for gestational age. While a term uterus, with one baby, may reach 38 to 40 centimeters in height, measured from the pubic bone, a term twin pregnancy may exceed 48 centimeters.
Elevated Levels Of Alpha Fetoprotein (AFP)
Levels of alpha fetoprotein (AFP), a protein released by the baby as it grows and found in the mother’s blood, can be elevated when there is more than one baby (It can also be elevated for other reasons, such as neural tube defects). A simple blood test is usually prescribed to rule out possibility of defects.
It’s That Feeling
Call it intuition or maternal instinct – some mothers of twins (or higher order multiples) say that they knew right from the start that they were carrying more than one baby.
Tips & Tricks
If you water bag breaks, stay calm and call your gynaec. Wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothes and on the way to the hospital, use a plastic sheet to prevent the car seat from getting soiled.
Before buying a home pregnancy test kit, be sure to check the expiry date. For accurate results, take the test after one week after the missed period; testing very early, can give you negative results.
Dry fruits are a rich source of iron and contain high dietary fibre. They also meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy