There are many myths and assumptions that people tend to have about twin pregnancy. We’re here to debunk some of those myths and get into what it’s actually like to experience multiple pregnancy. A twin pregnancy can be quite different from a single pregnancy. If you are having twins, then congratulations! This can be doubly thrilling, but also doubly unpleasant!
Multiple pregnancies are caused by 2 things primarily. One is the splitting of the already fertilized embryo into 2 different embryos, resulting in what is known as identical twins! The other is, 2 separate eggs being released and fertilized individually, resulting in 2 different babies, also known as fraternal twins. Identical twins share a lot of the same DNA, genetic makeup, and look almost identical to each other. Fraternal twins are like any other siblings, sharing DNA of course, but not very similar in looks. There are many factors that go into how twins are formed, but mostly it happens at random!
The following are a few twin pregnancy symptoms that you might be experiencing if you are currently having twins:
- Intense morning sickness: With some symptoms, the more the babies inside you, the harder you experience them. Morning sickness tends to be more severe for moms having twins than moms having singletons.
- Hearing heartbeats early on: Your doctor would be able to hear 2 sets of heartbeats as early as 10-12 weeks into pregnancy.
- Higher water retention: There is a high level of water retention when you are having twins. Expect more swelling of the ankles and joints. If it does seem to get too uncomfortable, then see your doctor about it.
- Very frequent urination: Because of the extra pressure on the bladder, and higher water retention, you will want to urinate more often than a mother expecting one baby.
- Gaining more weight: Sadly, the truth is that having twins can make you heavier than a mom expecting 1 baby. There are 2 babies growing inside you at the same speed after all! Expect a little more weight gain! The size of your uterus expanding is also caused due to this.
- Rapidly growing uterus: Your uterus will grow larger faster as compared to a mom’s who's having 1 child because it needs to make more room faster to accommodate 2 little ones inside.
- Severe fatigue: As expected, having twins takes takes a toll on your body because of the sheer fact that you are supporting two lives inside you. Many mothers tend to blame themselves because of how tired they feel but understand that your body is working 24 x 7 to provide for your little ones. Taking breaks is well-deserved!
How do you confirm your twin pregnancy?
While there are many symptoms of having a multiple pregnancy, there are only a few sure-fire ways of confirming that you are pregnant with twins. They are:
- Clinical evaluation: Speaking to your doctor about all your symptoms, doing multiple tests like the AFP test; which is a test that measures a certain protein secreted by the foetal liver. If your AFP tests are high, then that could hint towards the fact that you might have multiple pregnancies. Having your doctor or OBGYN evaluate all your symptoms and tests is one way to confirm 100% that you are having twins.
- Ultrasound scanning: This is a sure-fire way of confirming that you are pregnant with twins. Because an ultrasound picks up on sound waves and creates a live image of your uterus, the technician will clearly be able to see that there is more than one foetus inside. This can only happen after the 10-12-week mark once the foetus actually starts to grow and look big enough to identify.
With multiple births, there is a bigger risk of complications happening. No pregnancy tends to go 100% smoothly, but there is a higher chance of problems arising when having twins. Here are some commonly experienced complications:
- Premature births: It is well-known that 3 out of 5 mothers carrying twins experience premature deliveries. This is when the organs of the baby haven’t fully formed but they are born regardless. A lot of care must be taken to protect the babies from infections, feeding them, handling them, etc.
- Anaemia: It is common for any pregnant woman to have anaemia, but it can be more severe in a woman who's having twins.
- Vanishing twin syndrome: Oftentimes in the first trimester, even if more than one child is detected, one of them could disintegrate or vanish. You might bleed when this happens, and it leaves you at a risk for miscarriage in later trimesters.
- Gestational high blood pressure and diabetes: The toll of a twin pregnancy can manifest itself in high blood pressure and diabetes for expecting mothers.
Tips to keep in mind if you are having twins:
- Being aware that you could be having a high-risk pregnancy, it’s always better to stay informed about things that could go wrong! Read books, do your own research and always check in with your doctor about any concern you might be having. It sounds scary, but it doesn’t mean that something will go wrong!
- Eat extremely healthy foods. Include lot of whole foods and foods that are nutritious in your diet. It would be ideal if you could avoid junk or fast food at any cost but try to limit it to once a month!
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. Women tend to feel like they are a burden on the people around them when they are pregnant, hence try to take on things they aren’t able to! Never exert yourself and never feel ashamed to ask for help, you deserve it after all!
- Gentle exercise is the way to go. Practising yoga during pregnancy can not only alleviate certain unpleasant symptoms but also prepare you for a smoother delivery! Try to stay active in small ways.
Have a specialist that is trained in antenatal care rather than keeping a midwife or helper around you. A specialist is trained to pick up any complications you might be experiencing early on, so remediation can take place sooner rather than later!