Sunday, 26 October 2014
Could I be expecting twins?
You can’t help but be fascinated with twins and you may wonder what your chances of having twins or multiples might be. The frequency of twin and multiple pregnancies have increased over the last thirty years, probably due to more people undergoing IVF treatment and also because more women are delaying having children until their thirties.
One third of all twins are identical, or monozygotic – when the fertilized egg splits in two. They are always the same sex and usually share a placenta. Identical twins appear to be completely random and the chance of any woman having identical twins is one in 300.
Or dizygotic occur when two eggs are released and fertilised by two separate sperm. Half of fraternal twins are a boy-girl mix and half are the same sex. They have their own placentas. Fraternal twins can run in families, inherited mostly on the mother’s side.
Age plays a role in the occurrence of twin pregnancies, because mother’s who are over 35 have a higher chance of conceiving fraternal twins, with the odds increasing to one in 27 if the woman is over 35. This is because the older you get, the more likely you are to produce ovulation stimulation hormones that make your ovaries produce more than one egg each month.
Fertility drugs and treatments can increase your chances of having twins because they work by stimulating the ovaries into releasing more than one egg at a time. These treatments are used for families who need help and are not available to everyone.
How will my pregnancy be different if I am expecting twins?
It is likely that your doctors and midwives will want to monitor your progress very attentively due to the increased risk of medical complications, such as pre-eclampsia, that have the potential to accompany multiple pregnancies. If you already have any existing health problems, like diabetes, your progress will definitely be monitored very closely.
As a carrier of twin babies, you are generally considered to be at higher risk from medical complications, but this is not to say that you will have any problems at all and certain problems depend on the type of twins you are carrying.
If your twins are identical or so-called ‘monozygotic’ this means that your fertilised egg divided in half, forming two separate babies. Sometimes, identical twins share only one amniotic sac (monoamniotic) and outer membrane (monochorionic), which can lead to something known as TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) and means one twin doesn’t thrive.
However, this is not the case for all monozygotic twins and identical babies may share a membrane, but have separate amniotic sacs. Even more commonly, women carry fraternal (non-identical) or ‘dizygotic’ twins, which means that two separate eggs were fertilised by two separate sperm and therefore have their own membrane and amniotic sac. These types of pregnancies will be considered lower risk.
It is likely you will visit a midwife and a consultant at separate times on a monthly basis for close monitoring of your pregnancy and you should expect an increase in ultrasound scans and clinic appointments, especially during the later stages.
As well as dealing with the physical demands of carrying two babies, you also need to factor in the emotional implications. Discovering you are pregnant with twins can be a huge shock for both yourself and your partner and you shouldn’t underestimate the range of feelings that you may be working through.
Try to make time as a couple to explore your feelings on this subject and keep the communication lines open. Remember that your partner may be experiencing the same amount of anxiety as you and try to include him in the pregnancy process as much as possible to help allay his, as well as your own, fears.