We were all in for a big surprise when I found out I was pregnant with twins. No one in my family had twins, so you can imagine the shock we all felt. I remember the day the doctor told us like it was yesterday. He was doing the usual ultrasound during my third month, and he said in a calm voice, “Here is the baby’s heart” and then he moved to another location and said, “And here is the other baby’s heart.” Just like I did then, I still stop breathing for a minute when I think about it.
Even though it was a shock, we were all very happy and excited about the new addition (or additions) to our family. We knew that it would be twice the work, but it would also be twice the fun. And we were right! Having twins has been a great experience, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I was excited to be pregnant with twins, but I’ll admit I was also pretty scared. I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the pregnancy, delivery, or how I would take care of two babies by myself. It was all very overwhelming at first, but luckily I had a great support system of family and friends who helped me through it all!
Double the Symptoms. As a twin mom-to-be, you’re probably wondering what symptoms you can expect during pregnancy. The majority of twin moms report having the same symptoms as a normal pregnancy, just multiplied. So if you’re experiencing nausea, fatigue, or food cravings, rest assured that you’re not alone!
Double the Nausea. Many women, myself included, experience increased nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, commonly referred to as morning sickness. However, if you’re vomiting to the point where you cannot keep any liquids down for a period exceeding 48 hours, it’s important to contact your doctor as you may require IV fluids to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can lead to pre-term labor, so it’s crucial to ensure that you’re drinking enough fluids when pregnant.
Double the Size. When carrying twins, you can expect to gain about 1 pound per week, which is significantly more than the average weight gain for a single pregnancy. A twin pregnancy belly is also usually much larger than that of a single pregnancy. It’s important to eat healthy when carrying twins so that you don’t get too big because too much weight gain can lead to pre-term labor. Many women who are pregnant complain about sleepless nights. Since your stomach grows significantly larger during pregnancy, you can expect to be uncomfortable.
Double the Movements. Yes, you can expect more movement with twins. Many women pregnant with twins report feeling more movement than normal. You may feel a kick at the top of your stomach, and then at the same time another kick in your back. My four-year-old and I used to love to lay on my back and just watch them move. “It’s an earthquake in your tummy,” he would say. It is normal for the movement to slow down later in your pregnancy since there won’t be much room for them to move around. I highly suggest watching a movie on twin development in the womb. It is truly amazing to watch them interact. Also consider getting a 3D ultrasound video done – you won’t regret it!
Double the Ultrasounds. Ultrasounds are a common occurrence during twin pregnancies in order to keep an eye out for any potential problems that may arise. An early ultrasound with twins is needed in order to not only establish an accurate due date, but to also see if the twins are developing in separate amniotic sacs. If they share the same sac, the risks and complications are significantly higher. Although this is a rare occurrence with twins, happening in only about 1% of all twins, it’s important to be aware of the possibility. Ultrasound is an excellent way of comparing the sizes of the twins; one baby may be slightly larger but hopefully not too much. Sometimes one baby will “steal” from the other in regards to food and nutrients, which is why ultrasounds are so important in monitoring the development of both twins.
Double the Complications. Expecting twins? You’re not alone – in fact, twin pregnancies are much more common than you might think. But because you’re carrying more than one baby, you’re also at a higher risk for premature labor, low birth weight, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, toxemia of pregnancy, and complications of delivery. While it’s important to be aware of these risks, don’t let them stress you out – with the help of your healthcare team, you can have a healthy and successful pregnancy.
Premature Labor. A premature delivery is defined as anything less than 37 weeks completed. Over 60% of all twins will deliver prematurely. Most of these premature deliveries occur after 34 weeks, but the risks to the babies are quite rare in this case. Deliveries before 34 weeks, especially those before 32 weeks, can result in low birth weight and increased risks of permanent disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, hearing or vision problems. The best timing for delivery of twins is earlier than the actual due date. Keeping twins in the womb until the due date may result in larger babies, but it also further increases the risks of placental complications, labor-related complications, and delivery-related complications. The ideal timing for delivery of twins is from 37 1/2 to 38 weeks of pregnancy
If you experience any of the following signs, you may be experiencing premature labor and should contact your doctor immediately: cramps, contractions, menstrual pains, increasing pelvic or vaginal pressure, increasing low back pain, heavy vaginal discharge, vaginal spotting or bleeding, rectal pressure.
Double the Delivery. If you’re pregnant with twins, there’s a 50% chance you’ll have a vaginal delivery. For your doctor to consider a vaginal delivery, both babies need to be head down; both should weigh more than 4-5 pounds and be more than 35-36 weeks gestation. They should be similar in size with no evidence of growth problems. No other pregnancy complications should be present such as high blood pressure or low placenta. Twin deliveries usually occur in an operating room with personnel standing by prepared at any moment for an emergency cesarean section. Although twins born from cesarean section are usually both born within a minute of each other, many people consider this to be a safer option for twin births since if any complications were to arise, the medical team would be better prepared to handle them. However, this is something you should discuss with your doctor before making any decisions.
If you’re pregnant and reading this, then you may be wondering about my experience with toxemia, otherwise known as preeclampsia. I was petrified when it happened to me but luckily, my doctor was able to act fast, and I ended up having an emergency cesarean section. Even though it was a scary experience, I’m grateful that everything turned out fine in the end. My baby boys were born just 5 minutes after the epidural was given. I know that every woman’s experience is different, but the most important thing is to find a doctor you trust and who will keep you informed throughout your pregnancy so that you know what to expect.
Prepare now for twice the number of questions. Are they really going to want to know?
Fraternal Twins. Fraternal twins occur when a woman ovulates more than one egg per month. These two babies are born as a result of the same pregnancy, but each child was fertilized by a separate egg and separate sperm. Fraternal twins may be of the same or opposite gender, and they will differ genetically as well as in appearance. Just like any other siblings, fraternal twins resemble each other. Two-thirds of all twins are fraternal.
Identical Twins. Identical twins are two offspring born from the same pregnancy. They result from a single ovum (egg) that splits during early embryonic development. Identical twins are always of the same gender and have the same genes. They also have identical blood groups. Finally, they will resemble each other physically. Only one in three twins are identical twins.
Do twins run in your families? Parents of twins are often asked about genetics and the birth of their twins. Fraternal twins are the twins that run in families. This is because releasing more than one egg during ovulation is a trait that tends to be passed down in families. However, identical twins come from the same egg and do not run in families. There is no concrete link between a genetic inheritance and identical twins because no one knows when or why certain eggs will split to cause twins while others do not.