What is multiple pregnancy?
The presence of two or more babies in the woman’s uterus is referred as multiple pregnancy.
Multiple pregnancy presently accounts for 3% of all the pregnancies. The babies could be from the same egg or a different egg.
Identical twins result when an egg is fertilized by a sperm and then the egg divides into two or more embryos. This happens purely as a matter of chance. There is no relationship with your age, family history or race. Identical twins, however, will be both boys or both girls with the same blood group. The twins will have similar eyes, skin colour and hair.
Two different eggs when fertilized by different sperms, result in fraternal twins. These twins can be both boys, both girls or a boy and a girl. If anyone in your family had fraternal twins before, you would more probably have them too. The twins can have different blood groups.
Triplets and other multiple babies could be a result of fraternal, identical or even both.
What causes multiple pregnancy?
Multiple pregnancies can just be a chance factor. There are a couple of other reasons too.
You could be at the risk of multiple pregnancy:
- If you are older, more than one egg may be released at once owing to hormonal changes.
- If you have opted for in vitro fertilization
- You are taking fertility medications that increase the egg production at a time.
Larger than normal uterus might point to twin pregnancies. A doctor only can confirm multiple pregnancy, though you might have the feeling of carrying more than one baby.
Your physician may perform an ultrasound if more than one fetal heartbeat is felt or the uterus is abnormally large. An ultrasound scan can confirm the number of babies in the uterus.
If you are confirmed with twin or multiple pregnancy you must pay attention to:
- Nutrition: You must ensure to eat nutritious and a balanced diet. You need to take sufficient iron, folic acid, and calcium supplements.
- Good Care: You should take good care of yourself and go for more medical check-ups to ensure good health and development of your babies.
- Weight Gain: Healthy weight gain supports the babies’ health. For twins, one should aim for 17-25 kg gain, depending on your weight before the pregnancy. Consult your physician to indicate the right weight to aim for.
The probable complications of twin pregnancy include:
- High blood pressure: You can be treated based on the severity of your situation. Medication, early delivery, fetal monitoring, bed rest could be prescribed.
- Placental issues: Abruption of the placenta could be encountered.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): Antibiotics are used to treat this condition.
- Anaemia: Treatment involves iron supplementation and foods rich in iron.
- Blood loss: Post delivery, heavy blood loss can occur, requiring a blood transfusion.
- C-section: Caesarean section may be required, if the babies are in head-up position at the time of delivery.
- You will encounter more morning sickness in the initial months of the pregnancy. You must take care not to get dehydrated due to vomiting.
- Avoid things which can affect the health of your babies like stop alcohol, smoking, too many medicines, chemicals, and cosmetics.
- Take enough rest and go for regular check-ups.
Consult your physician or visit the hospital:
- If you encounter vaginal bleeding
- If your water breaks.
- Have symptoms of premature labor pain
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- American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Special problems of multiple gestation. Education bulletin No. 253, 1998.
- Multiple Pregnancy: The Management of Twin and Triplet Pregnancies in the Antenatal Period. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 129. National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK). London: RCOG Press; 2011 Sep.