Many women are getting pregnant with multiples now as compared to before. This could be due to various reasons, such as genetics and fertility treatments.
A multiple pregnancy means being pregnant with more than one baby. When more than one egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm, it may lead to multiple pregnancy. However, it can also happen when one fertilized egg splits into two or more embryos that grow into multiple babies.
Identical twins are born when one fertilized egg splits into two. Fraternal twins are born when two separate eggs are fertilized by two separate sperms and don’t look alike nor share the same genes.
Here are few more things that you need to know about being pregnant with multiples.
Signs of Multiple Pregnancy
While an ultrasound is the surest way to know whether you’re carrying twins or multiples, some mothers say that they knew they were carrying more than one baby from the start. There may be several symptoms and signs that indicate multiple pregnancy. Here are a few of them:
- Your breasts may seem very tender or sore
- You feel very hungry or gain weight quickly in the first trimester
- You experience severe morning sickness in the first few months of pregnancy
- Your hCG levels are elevated
- Your doctor can hear more than one heartbeat
- Your uterus is larger than usual
- You feel fetal movement very early
Your doctor can conduct an ultrasound to confirm multiple pregnancy and suggest the necessary prenatal care.
Prenatal Care for Multiple Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant with multiples may need extra medical care during pregnancy, labor and birth. They might need to go for more prenatal care checkups as compared to mothers with single fetus. This helps your doctor to watch both the mother and the babies for potential problems.
Multiple pregnancies are usually considered to be high-risk, which means that such pregnancies are more likely to have complications as compared to others. However, being under the care of a high-risk pregnancy specialist does not mean you’ll definitely have problems. It is only done as a precaution so that you and your baby can be closely monitored to prevent or treat any complications.
Possible Complications of Multiple Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant with multiples can sometimes have complications such as:
- Preterm labor: This refers to labor that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It can lead to premature birth.
- Anemia: Iron-deficiency anemia is common in multiple pregnancies and can increase your chances of premature birth. This is one of the main reasons why an iron supplement is recommended during pregnancy.
- Gestational diabetes: Pregnant women are at a risk of getting gestational diabetes. It may lead to serious health issues if not treated in time.
- Preeclampsia: It refers to high blood pressure caused during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can happen after the 20th week of pregnancy or even after pregnancy. This can lead to complications which may affect her kidney and liver functions.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum: It refers to a severe morning sickness, nausea or vomiting during pregnancy.
- Miscarriage or stillbirth: Miscarriage refers to losing a fetus in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
A pregnant woman carrying multiples may also have these complications after giving birth:
- Postpartum depression: This refers to a kind of depression that some women experience after giving birth to a baby. Postpartum depression can make a new mother feel very sad for a long period of time and make it hard for her to take care of the baby.
- Postpartum hemorrhage: This is a serious but rare condition that causes women to bleed excessively after giving birth.
Multiple Pregnancy and Babies’ Health
Babies born to women with multiple pregnancies may have health complications such as:
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Growth problems
- Low birth weight
- Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (also called TTTS)
- Neonatal death
Chances of Multiple Pregnancy
A woman is more likely than others to get pregnant with multiple babies if:
- She’s had a fertility treatment: Fertility treatments such as IVF can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant with twins.
- She’s in her late 30s: A woman in her late 30s is more likely than younger women to release more than one egg during a menstrual cycle.
- She has a family history of multiples: If a woman’s family has a history of giving birth to multiples, or she herself has been pregnant with multiples before, there are chances of having two or more babies in subsequent pregnancies.
Birthing Procedure for Multiple Babies
Women who are pregnant with multiples are more likely to give birth via a cesarean section, as compared to others who are carrying one baby. Usually, triplets or more are born through a C-section. If you’re pregnant with twins, you may need a C-section when neither baby is in head-down position or if you have other complications.
Vaginal birth is possible for twin babies if:
- Both babies are in head-down position
- There are no known complications
- The lower twin is in head-down position but the higher twin isn’t
Diet when carrying Multiples
A mother carrying twins or multiples needs more of certain nutrients like folic acid, protein, iron and calcium. Eating healthy foods and taking prenatal vitamins every day can take care of these requirements. Visit our experts at KIMS Cuddles who will prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you during your first checkup. It is important to know that even when you’re pregnant with multiples, you will only need to take one prenatal vitamin per day.
Weight Gain and Multiple Pregnancy
Women who are carrying multiples need to gain more weight than those who are pregnant with one baby. Weight gain depends on a mother’s pre-pregnancy weight and the number of babies she is carrying. In general, a woman who is pregnant with twins should gain:
- About 16 to 24 kilos during pregnancy if she was at a healthy weight before pregnancy.
- About 14 to 22 kilos during pregnancy if she was overweight before pregnancy.
- About 11 to 19 kilos during pregnancy if she was obese before pregnancy.
Talk to your doctor or visit us at KIMS Cuddles to find out the right weight gain and diet tips for you when you’re carrying multiples. You can continue doing physical exercise but might need to cut down on high-impact activities later on in the pregnancy.