Multiple Pregnancy FAQs: Different Types of Twins And All You Need to Know About Twin Pregnancy
No, you’re not seeing double. You’re expecting twins!
Upon receiving the results of your ultrasound, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. You may fear for the future, especially if you feel like it’s not going according to plan. Hopefully, you found this article before you go into full panic mode.
We at Preggy to Mommy understand your concerns, and we’re here to ease some of your worries.
Have a pen and paper ready because we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about twin pregnancies. Learn more about the different types of twins and what to expect when expecting twins!
What is Multiple Pregnancy?
A multiple pregnancy is when a woman conceives more than one baby. This type of pregnancy happens when more than one embryo implants in a mother’s womb or uterus. Two possible occasions lead to multiple pregnancies.
The woman may release more than one egg during her menstrual cycle. Two separate sperms then fertilize these eggs. On the other hand, a fertilized egg may split into two eggs, resulting in identical embryos.
What Causes Multiple Pregnancies?
Several factors may lead to multiple pregnancies. For instance, fertility drugs can stimulate a woman’s body to produce more than one egg cell during her cycle. Women who are over the age of 35 are also more likely to produce more than one egg in their cycle.
If a woman has a history of multiple pregnancies in her family, she is likely to have a multiple pregnancy as well. Lastly, experts believe that IVF can result in multiple pregnancies— especially if more than one fertilized embryo is transferred to the womb.
What are the Common Signs of Twin or Multiple Pregnancies?
Mothers with twin pregnancies may experience a different set of symptoms versus singleton pregnancies.
Here are some of the signs you can look out for to know if you are expecting twins:
- You’ve gained weight rapidly at the beginning of your pregnancy.
- You’re experiencing severe morning sickness.
- You feel excessive movement in your belly.
How are Multiple Pregnancies Detected?
Multiple pregnancies can only be confirmed by having an ultrasound scan. You can undergo it during your first trimester or the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Your ultrasound will determine some essential factors that you have to consider throughout your pregnancy. This includes knowing what type of multiple pregnancy you’re expecting. You can also see the number of placenta and amniotic sacs present, which can affect your pregnancy later on.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Multiple Pregnancies?
The most common types of multiples are twins and triplets.
A ‘higher order’ pregnancy occurs when a mom expects three or more babies. Pregnancies like this are rare and need more medical supervision because of increased risk to both the mother and her babies.
What are the Most Common Types of Twins?
There are two major types of twins, namely: fraternal twins and identical twins. Two factors guide the distinction between the two types of twins. Namely:
- the number of fertilized eggs
- if the fertilized eggs share a placenta
If you’re carrying babies from the latter of the two types of twins, you need to religiously have checkups to avoid serious health complications.
Are There Any Other Types of Twins?
Aside from the major types of twins, some experts believe that there’s a third type. This type is called polar twins or half-identical twins.
Just like the usual process of ovulation, the developing egg splits into two eggs. The smaller cell of the pair is called the polar body— it usually dies naturally during the process. However, in theory, the polar body can be fertilized by a sperm when another separate sperm fertilizes the egg. This process can result in polar twins.
This type of twins is also called half-identical because they only share 75% of their genes. They share most of their genetic code with their mother. Some experts believe that this occurrence explains why some fraternal twins look alike. However, there’s too little evidence to prove the existence of this type of twins.
What are Fraternal Twins?
Fraternal twins are types of twins that occur when a woman’s ovaries release two eggs, which are then fertilized by two separate sperms. They are also called dizygotic twins or non-identical twins. The two fertilized eggs (zygotes) will separately implant in the mother’s uterus during pregnancy. Each zygote will have its own placenta, inner sac, and umbilical cord.
The oxygen and nutrients needed by the fraternal twins are transported through the placenta and umbilical cord. In extremely rare cases, fraternal twins can share the same placenta. These types of twins are commonly called chimeric twins.
Fraternal twins usually look similar to each other. However, they might have different hair and eye colors. That’s because these types of twins are from two separate zygotes which have different genetic make-ups.
What are Identical Twins?
Identical twins are the result of a fertilized egg splitting. These types of twins come from one zygote and are commonly of the same sex. Identical twins are sometimes also called monozygotic twins.
According to experts, there are three kinds of identical twins. The differences between these types of twins are determined by the moment when the fertilized egg split in the mother’s womb.
In the first type of identical twin, the embryo splits before it implants in the uterus. This leads to the gestation of identical twins that have separate placentas.
The second type of identical twin occurs when the embryo implants first in the womb before it splits. On this occasion, the twins share the same placenta but have separate inner sacs.
In infrequent circumstances, the embryo implants in the womb and splits later on during gestation. These types of twins are considered the third kind, where both the fetus share the same placenta and inner sac.
What are the Most Common Risks When Having Twins?
Every pregnancy carries several risks. In multiple pregnancies, these risks increase with each additional fetus. Therefore, knowing the potential dangers is vital to ensuring you and your babies’ safety.
Here are some of the common health risks in multiple pregnancies:
This condition is indicated by increased blood pressure and damage to major organs. It happens more often in multiple pregnancies compared to singleton pregnancies. Symptoms of preeclampsia usually start after the 20th week in pregnancy or even after childbirth.
Severe cases of preeclampsia can affect the mother’s kidneys, liver, eyes, and brain. If the condition worsens, you will need to deliver your babies immediately to avoid further complications.
Mothers who are expecting multiple pregnancies are also at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Babies born from mothers with this type of diabetes tend to form respiratory problems and other health complications after birth.
This risk can be reduced by having a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Placental problems occur when the placenta cannot provide the right amount of nutrients to the fetus. Premature aging of the placenta also leads to slow growth for the fetuses. Multiples that are underweight during pregnancy are at increased danger of complications.
Another issue concerning the placenta is the twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). Types of twins that share the same placenta are at higher risk of encountering this complication.
In TTTS, the blood flow becomes unbalanced—one fetus has excessive blood and nutrients while the other has too little. When TTTS occurs earlier during the pregnancy, it becomes more severe for both babies.
Your childbirth is preterm if your pregnancy only lasts less than 37 weeks. Preterm births are common in all types of twins and multiple pregnancies. About sixty percent of multiple births are born prematurely.
Why is it Important to Know if Twins Share a Placenta or Inner Sac?
Along with the umbilical cord, the placenta is an essential component in keeping babies healthy. When twins share the placenta inside the womb, they also share blood supply and nutrients throughout the pregnancy. Sometimes, there might be unequal sharing of blood and nutrients, which will then affect the condition of either baby.
The types of twins that share the same inner sac during the pregnancy are called monoamniotic twins. They are at higher risk during pregnancy because their umbilical cords might tangle. When this happens, their supply of blood and nutrients may be cut off.
All types of twins that are either sharing placenta, inner sacs, or both must be checked more closely. Regular check-ups can prevent severe complications and ensure the healthy delivery of your twins.
Can I Breastfeed When I Have Twins?
Your babies’ primary source of nutrients is your breastmilk. You can breastfeed even if you have twins or multiples. You don’t have to worry because your milk supply will naturally increase accordingly.
However, you might have problems with breastfeeding two babies throughout the day. Thus, it would be best to establish a nursing schedule to make sure both babies are equally fed.
Many moms struggle at first when nursing their twins, so don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Your ob-gyn and lactation specialists can always lend you their care and expertise.
Should I Decrease My Physical Activity When I’m Pregnant with Twins?
Staying active is essential in keeping your body in top shape. Remember that your babies’ wellness and your health are intertwined.
However, it would be best for you to avoid strenuous activities. If you’re planning to work out, it’s best to do low-impact exercises like prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming. Don’t forget to consult with your ob-gyn before starting an exercise program.
What are My Delivery Options?
Most mothers have cesarean section deliveries for their multiple births. However, some types of twins can be born through natural birth. Your delivery options will depend on some factors, including:
- the number of your babies
- the position, weight, and condition of your babies
- your health and the status of your labor
I’m Still Feeling Anxious About Having Twins. What Should I Do?
Feeling anxious is natural in any pregnancy— most especially if you’re expecting twins or multiples. One newborn is already physically and emotionally demanding. A multiple pregnancy can double these struggles.
To ease your nerves, you can join a childbirth class. These programs can help you widen your knowledge about the journey of motherhood. You can also involve your partner, relatives, and friends in this journey.
Having twins can be a challenge, but you can see it as a double blessing. Just imagine the amount of love doubling or tripling upon the arrival of your babies. Also, think of how much fun it would be to have two or more beautiful babies in your care. Little ones growing and developing their unique personalities is a real sight to behold.
If you need more tips about pregnancy and parenthood, visit Preggy To Mommy, your new motherhood companion.