Pregnancy with multiples
Couples, who plan on getting pregnant, often enquire about how common it is to give birth to two or three babies at once. Some dream about twins pregnancy, and for some, it is a pleasant surprise. Such pregnancies are rather challenging because the fetuses require twice as much nutrients, energy and care. That is why it is so important to detect pregnancy with multiples early and ensure that there is a doctor who supervises the proper development of the babies.
Most of the pregnancies that occur are singleton pregnancies, meaning that the woman is pregnant with one baby, but in recent years the rate of pregnancies with multiples increased. Of course, they happened in past as well, but they were not as common as they are right now. There are some logical explanations to what caused such an increase.
What should you know about twins pregnancy?
Multiple pregnancy occurs when more than one egg is fertilized, and as a result, more than one fetus is developing in the uterus. It may happen when two eggs are released during the ovulation. The twins who develop from two initially separate eggs are called “fraternal twins” (non-identical). In this case, every fetus is considered to be a separate pregnancy.
However, sometimes one egg may be fertilized and then it may split into two. In this case, you will give birth to identical twins. The chances to give birth to identical twins if you are pregnant with two fetuses are around 30%.
The rate of twin pregnancies is not that high – it is approximately 1 in 250 cases. But the rise of ART in 1980 induced a great leap in the number of twin pregnancies.
The chances of having twins are tremendously high for women who resort to fertility treatments. For example, the application of ovulation induction (both with and without insemination) and IVF has resulted in a significant increase in the number of multiple pregnancies.
It is a clear-cut fact that with every year the IVF success rate increases, as well as a number of multiple pregnancies as a result of this procedure. The reason is that most of the couples opt to transfer multiple embryos to increase their chances of success.
What are the symptoms of twins pregnancy?
It is quite hard to claim the there are some definite signs of twins in pregnancy, for only a doctor may confirm that you are pregnant with multiples during the ultrasound procedure. The one will see the number of fetuses on the screen and hear the heartbeat(s), this is the only way to establish whether you have one or more babies. However, if you notice the following symptoms, you may have high chances of having more than one baby:
- There are baby movements in different areas of your belly at the same time;
- Severe breasts pain;
- Fast weight gaining in the first trimester;
- Severe morning sickness.
You should understand that the only way to be sure you are pregnant with multiples is to visit a doctor, who will run some tests and perform ultrasound diagnostics because there are no 100% accurate symptoms for pregnancy with twins, so you may be misled.
At consultations, fertility doctors very often hear the question “How do I get pregnant with twins?” from women who seek medical advice on reproduction. It should be explained that there is no certain way to induce multiple pregnancies, but there are some factors that may impact it:
- Family history. It is a well-known fact that the women who come from families where twins are common or who are born from twin pregnancy are more likely to give birth to twins. The statistical data shows that women who are themselves non-identical twins get pregnant with multiples approximately 1 per 60 cases. The rate of twin pregnancies in couples where a man is one of the non-identical twins is sufficiently lower – 1 per 125 births.
- Fertility treatment. It is the main factor that increases the rate of multiple pregnancies. For example, in the case of ovarian stimulation, more than one egg may be released from anovary. Furthermore, some couples opt for transplantation of multiple embryos in the course of IVF procedure in order to increase their chances for successful implantation and reduce the number of IVF cycles due to some financial concerns.
There is tons of information about how to increase your chances of conceiving twins with some special diets, practices etc., but you have to realize that these pieces of advice are rarely (almost never) based on any evidence or scientific findings. There is no data that would confirm that any type of diet or activity increases your chances of giving birth to more than one baby in one pregnancy.
What are the most common multiple pregnancy risks?
Any pregnancy is immense stress for a woman’s body and being pregnant with two or three babies is even harder, for it requires more energy, nutrition and effort, that is why multiple pregnancy may present an increased risk of maternal and fetal complications. Given that, women with multiples are extremely careful monitored by gynecologists and fertility experts in order to detect any signs of complications or deferrals early or prevent any possible issues.
Most common complications threatening a mother include the following:
- Gestational diabetes. It is a condition when your sugar levels in blood increase during pregnancy period. It affects up to 10% of pregnant women and may severely impair their health and the health of their future child. For this reason, a woman with this condition should be carefully monitored and the one should follow a special diet to eliminate the impact of this disease. The good news is that it usually disappears after the birth.
- Gestational hypertension. It is a condition when your blood pressure is high due to your pregnancy. It usually develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and as well as gestational diabetes, it disappears after the child is born. If not treated, this disorder may cause serious issues in the fetus.
- Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. It is a condition when the liver can’t perform its functions properly and it does not release the sufficient amount of digestive fluids. This disorder usually disappears after the delivery.
- Miscarriage or stillbirth. Since multiple pregnancy is immense stress for the woman’s body, miscarriages may occur. Sometimes it happens that one of the fetuses dies, while another one survives and is able to develop properly.
Not only is the mother at higher risk while carrying more than one fetus, but the babies as well. In pregnancy with multiples, kids are at a sufficiently higher risk of complications and the occurrence of different disorders.
The most common complications in babies during pregnancy and after birth are as follows:
- Premature birth. In multiple pregnancy, premature birth happens very often, almost half of twins and almost all the triplets are born before the term. Children who were born too early have more health problems than those who were born after the 37th week of pregnancy. They very often require some additional medical care after birth such as intensive therapy or other medical interventions. In some severe cases, premature-born kids may experience the consequences of those early health issues for all their life.
- Birth defects. Those are the conditions that are present in children when they are born, meaning that they are not acquired. Such defects are more common among babies born as a result of multiple pregnancy, than among those born from singleton one. These defects may cause problems with different organs and systems, the most common are the disorders related to the neurological system, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
- Low birthweight. It is a very common complication among the babies born as a result of multiple pregnancy, because these kids are generally smaller (they have to share all the nutrients provided by mother, so they get less than babies in singleton pregnancies). Insufficient weight means that the baby may be not strong enough and underdeveloped, so it may require some additional medical care or doctor’s attention.
In the case with triplets, the statistics are even more concerning. Babies born from the pregnancy of triples have 20% of a major handicap, a 17-fold increase in cerebral palsy and a 20-fold increase in death during the first year after birth (as compared to singleton pregnancy). For this reason, it is so important to get a medical consultation with a medical professional. Nowadays, many clinics offer different medical and fertility services at reasonable price and with every year they become cheaper and available.
Remember that there no signs of pregnant belly indicating triplets or twins pregnancies, the only way is to consult a gynecologist or an ultrasound expert in a certified fertility clinic.
Parens Fertility is a leader in the field of reproductive medicine. With our help, hundreds of couples managed to overcome their infertility issues and feel the joy of parenthood. We provide a wide range of services – from gynecologist consultations to IVF procedures and surrogacy. With our accurate ultrasound diagnostics, you can find out the sex of your child, the number of fetuses and out doctors will do all their best to detect any defects or pathologies in the fetus.
If you are planning to get pregnant or you have any questions about your fertility and pregnancy, do not hesitate to contact our manager to schedule a consultation with our fertility expert, who will provide you with all the necessary information and treatment. We can guarantee that we will provide you with the best-quality services as well as with the support and help you need!