When a woman finds out that she is pregnant with twins, it can be quite exciting. Current statistics predict that approximately one in every 41 sets of parents may have twins, triplets, or more sets of children. This statistic has more than doubled from previous generations. Non-identical twins, called fraternal twins, each have their own placenta. In the alternative, identical twins come from one egg that splits and creates two babies that can share the same placenta.
There are several signs that indicate that a woman may be pregnant with twins. Although a larger than usual abdomen is not in itself a sign that there are twins in the womb, it can certainly be one factor. Doctors will also consider the size of the uterus. If it is larger than normal based on the expected due date, it could be a sign, as well. In addition, if a woman has amplified symptoms of pregnancy, such as extreme morning sickness, edema, or indigestion, there may be twins. One of the most tell-tale signs that a woman is going to have twins is if the doctor can hear two distinct heartbeats.
There are no factors that will increase the likelihood that a woman will have identical twins; however, there are factors that will give a woman a greater chance of having fraternal twins. Family history, on the mother’s side of the family, can increase the chance of fraternal twins. Also, women over the age of 35 and women who have partaken in fertility treatments are more likely to have twins.
Carrying and delivering healthy twins is very common today, especially due to ultrasound capabilities. Given the knowledge before delivery that a woman is pregnant with twins makes it is easier for her to take precautions to reduce complications during pregnancy, such as anemia, hypertension, and premature separation of the placenta from the uterus. Extra medical attention should be expected with twins. For example, a woman expecting a single baby will not see the doctor as frequently as one expecting twins. In fact, if a woman is expecting twins she will often see the doctor every other week starting at 20 weeks of gestation and every single week from 30 weeks.
A woman who is pregnant with twins should focus on having excellent nutrition. In fact, twins who are well-nourished can easily weigh 6 or 7 pounds (2.7 - 3.2 kg), instead of 5 or fewer pounds (2.3 kg), at birth. For each additional child the dietary requirements for the mother should increase. Therefore, someone who's going to have twins should consume 300 extra calories, one additional serving of protein, one extra serving of calcium, and one extra serving of whole grains above a woman who is pregnant with a single child. Also, a prenatal vitamin and an iron supplement should be taken on a regular basis.
An additional baby means additional weight gain. Most women will be advised to gain approximately 45 pounds (20.4 kg) during the course of the pregnancy. The weight gain breaks down to about one pound (.45 kg) per week in the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy and 1 ½ pounds (.68 kg) per week during the next 20 weeks of the pregnancy.
Extra rest, extra help, and extra caution should be taken during the duration of the pregnancy. The body will be working two times as hard to develop the babies. Sometimes bed rest is recommended or an early leave from work is suggested by the doctor overseeing the pregnancy. A dual arrival is a memorable experience – and given the knowledge to know what to expect – it can be a rewarding experience, as well.