Recently we had a mama come for her first-ever ultrasound appointment. She was unsure how she felt about accidentally getting pregnant and wasn’t even sure she wanted to keep her pregnancy. Nervously, she laid down on the table and the technician put the probe on her belly. But to her utter surprise, when she looked at the ultrasound screen, two little heartbeats pounded rhythmically back at her.
Suddenly her doubts melted. She couldn’t help but completely fall in love with this adorable surprise. While stories like these don’t happen every day, our center occasionally gets to be the one who discovers surprise twins!
It is estimated that only 1 in every 250 women can conceive twins naturally, which are pretty low odds! While no one can predict who will actually get pregnant with twins, and while some women defy all medical research, there are a few common denominators we can rely on to determine your probability to conceive multiples.
Are you over 35? Congratulations! You have a higher chance of conceiving twins! This is thought to happen when women get closer to menopause and their hormones start to change. If her monthly cycle begins to shift and she releases more than one egg during ovulation, she could end up with twins.
Are you tall? Yep, oddly enough, statistics show that taller women over 5’5 tend to conceive twins. Weird, right?
Women on fertility treatments (or even those who use birth control or have just gotten off of it) have a higher chance of conceiving twins.
Hyperovulation is when your body is...well, hyper about ovulating. When your ovaries release more than one egg at a time during your monthly cycle this is thought to be a genetic incident and you can inherit it from either your mom’s side or your dad’s side of the family.
If you are a twin (or your partner is a twin) your chances are higher to conceive them as well.
A Previous Pregnancy
....(or if you already have twins) can increase the chances of twins. According to Healthline, “In fact, according to the women between the ages of 35 to 40 with four or more children are three times more likely to have twins than a woman under 20 without children.” Why? No one knows. But if you want to have twins, you might get them later in life after 4 children!
If you are one of the 1 in 250 lucky mamas who conceived twins, you probably have a lot of questions. Let’s dive into some facts about twins!
First, there are two different ways to conceive twins, and they result in what is known as identical twins or fraternal twins.
An identical twin is when a single sperm fertilizes a single egg. Biology 101, right? But after fertilization, the egg divides itself in half, which creates two babies. They are identical because they share the same DNA blueprint that was delivered via a single sperm.
A fraternal twin is when two eggs are fertilized by two separate sperm, which results in two different babies that are twins, but not identical in features. Usually, when you have a boy and a girl they are fraternal twins, not sharing the same single-sperm DNA. They will act more like siblings than identical twins will. Fraternal twins can also have different fathers. If a woman ovulates twice, she can be impregnated by two different men and can conceive two babies at once.
Now that you know the different types of twins, let's talk about what to expect in your pregnancy.
You probably took a pregnancy test because you felt strong pregnancy symptoms quite early on. This is because your hormones are raging at higher rates to grow two babies instead of one. You most likely will experience morning sickness, constipation, nausea, and exhaustion differently than a woman who is only pregnant with a singleton. Needless to say, twin (or more) pregnancies are considered to be higher risk and your doctor will probably send you to a specialist like an obstetrician. These doctors are highly skilled in antenatal care and with twin development. In the unlikely event something starts to go wrong, a specialist can pick up on the signs early and give you preventative care.
Don’t plan to give birth in a birthing center or at home, as premature birth is a huge risk factor in twin pregnancy and you will want to be where the best medical team is to help you with safe delivery. While you are at a higher risk during a twin pregnancy, this does not mean you will have to have a c-section. As long as baby “A’s” head is down, you should be able to have a natural delivery. Baby “B” can be born in any position, but it’s still important to give birth in a hospital just in case you need an emergency c-section.
Also, expect to be at the doctor’s office a lot! You will need extra ultrasounds and lots of TLC during your pregnancy, depending on your medical history and how the babies are developing inside you. It will also depend on how the babies are growing. For example, if your twins share a placenta this means you will need an ultrasound every two weeks. But if they are developing in separate placentas you will need less frequent ultrasounds, but more than if you were only carrying one.
Unfortunately, women carrying twins are more at risk for complications like preeclampsia, premature labor, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy-related illness. This is why going to your appointments and monitoring your symptoms is important. While you shouldn’t worry about something that has not happened, it is vital that you eat healthily and make lifestyle changes with your doctor’s supervision to prevent or decrease your chances of severe complications.
Obviously, your body will change more with twins than it would with a single pregnancy. Your belly will grow bigger, your body will flaunt bolder stretch marks, and you will enjoy all the extra exhaustion from going back and forth to appointments and growing two human beings.
While this might not sound glamorous or fun, what you are doing is nothing short of a miracle! Remind yourself that your body is powerful and capable, and you are undergoing something only 1 in every 250 women are brave enough to do. The good news is, you won’t be pregnant forever. And secondly, most twin pregnancies are delivered a few weeks early, so your pregnancy probably won’t go the full 40-week term.
You totally got this, mama!
Fun Facts About Twins
If you are worried about all the complications and unknowns that come with birthing twins, a good tip is to focus on the amazing and fun future you will get to experience with your babies. Twins come with some amazing fun and they will get into all sorts of adorable trouble that will keep you laughing and on your toes for the rest of your life! Here are some fun facts about twins to keep your chin up (and maybe it will help you pull through those last few weeks of pregnancy!)
40% of twins develop their own language. How cool is that?
Identical twins have different fingerprints and teeth marks.
Twins start interreacting inside the womb at 14 weeks.
Nigeria has the highest rate of multiples and identical twins in the world!
Mothers of twins live longer.
Identical twins can be separated at birth but still live identical or similar lives.
Identical twins have 99.9% of the same DNA and have almost the same brain wave patterns.