Twin pregnancy or births as the name suggests refers to the birth of two babies at the same time. Heredity factors are primarily responsible for twin or multiple births. If there is a history of multiple pregnancies on the family of the woman’s side then the possibility of such a pregnancy increases.
African descent women are prone to having twin pregnancies and those women who have had previous multiple pregnancies are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy again. Older pregnant women are also likely to have multiple pregnancies.
Often women who opt for infertility treatment experience a multiple pregnancy as the treatment stimulates the ovaries so that multiple eggs are released. Multiple embryos are transferred through assisted reproductive technology and in vitro fertilization also increases the chances of multiple pregnancies.
Twin pregnancy includes two kinds of twins, monozygotic pregnancy or identical twins and dizygotic or fraternal twins. In identical twins a single egg is involved and this fertilized egg divides in separate halves.
The development continues into two identical but separate babies. In this twin pregnancy the babies are genetically completely identical and have similar chromosomes and totally identical physical features or characteristics. These twins have the same sex and the similarities also include the blood type, the eye color and the hair.
Fraternal twins on the other hand are developed from two different eggs and two separate sperm fertilize these eggs. In this type of twin pregnancy the babies may or may not be of the same sex and this pregnancy is far more commonly found. Twin pregnancy or multiple births are risky in the sense that these often involve preterm or early labor.
The babies in this type of pregnancy therefore are often premature births. While a normal pregnancy last for around 40 weeks a twin pregnancy may last between 35 to 37 weeks. Almost 50% of these pregnancies result in premature birth and the babies are born before 37 weeks.
With twin pregnancy as the babies may be born prematurely a number of health challenges and problems arise. These babies therefore need to be placed in the neonatal intensive care section after the delivery. The closer the babies are born to the due date the lesser the risk of health problems.
Some other conditions and problems that may be associated in twin pregnancies include gestational diabetes, fetal growth issues, preeclampsia and placental problems. Cerebral palsy and developmental delays are also more likely in twins. For this reason any couple undergoing fertility treatments often has to undertake extensive counseling on the risks associated with multiple pregnancies.
Twin pregnancy requires the expectant mother to eat well and get enough rest. Regular medical checkup is also extremely crucial with frequent appointments with the gynecologist. With twin pregnancies extensive prenatal care is extremely important.
It is therefore advisable to get a health care professional who has had experience in twin and multiple pregnancies. In twin pregnancies it is vital for the expectant mother to increase intake of folic acid and calcium so consuming extra milk and other items such as broccoli, sardines and other calcium rich foods is vital.
Protein consumption is also crucial where multiple pregnancies are involved and the essential food items should be incorporated under the guidance of a medical health professional. Increased iron is also needed in twin pregnancy so as to avoid any possibility of anemia. Other supplements should also be taken as per the directions of the doctor.
This kind of pregnancy results in greater weight gain in the pregnancy period but this weight gain should be monitored under the guidance of the doctor. It is advisable for women having multiple pregnancies to eat small meals frequently.
Twin pregnancy can be stressful as the discomforts associated with pregnancy can be higher in intensity. It is important for the expectant mother to take care of herself so as to reduce the stress. Ensure that enough support through family and friends is available.
The choice for vaginal delivery or C section depends on various factors including positioning of the babies. So the circumstances may cause the doctor to opt for a C section even when normal vaginal delivery has been agreed upon.
Since twin or multiple birth babies are smaller it is easier to push them out and so the birthing process may get over in less time. In case of premature labor the babies will be monitored on a continuous basis so as to detect any signs of distress. With the help of family and friends caring for babies after a twin pregnancy can eventually become a lot manageable and joyful.