Twin pregnancy occurs when two different eggs are fertilized by two different sperms or when a single egg is fertilized by two sperms. In the first case, you will give birth to the so-called fraternal twins who can be two boys, two girls, or one boy and one girl. In the second case, you will be carrying identical twins who will be the same sex and look “identical“. Multiple pregnancies are relatively rare and only about 3 out of 100 pregnant women are carrying multiples in the United States, most often twins. Interestingly, it is more likely to get pregnant with twins as you get older (in your 30′s or 40′s). This is believed to be related to hormonal changes that occur with age and may produce multiple eggs at a time. The chance of multiple pregnancy is also higher in women who go through some fertilization treatments, in the first case in vitro fertilization. However, sometimes multiple pregnancies happen for no apparent reason.
You will know if you are carrying twins by the second trimester. Your doctor may suspect multiple pregnancy from the results of your pregnancy test because all multiple pregnancies are characterized by significantly higher levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone which indicates pregnancy. He or she may also hear more than one heartbeat during a checkup. If your doctor suspects a multiple pregnancy, he or she will confirm it by an ultrasound.
Twin pregnancy is a double blessing but if carrying twins, you can expect different experiences than women carrying a single baby. You will also have more frequent checkups because all multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of complications for both the mother and her babies. With twins, you are at the risk of miscarriage, preterm labor, gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that occurs exclusively during pregnancy), hypertension (high blood pressure) and preeclampsia (a serious complication marked by hypertension and protein in urine which can be sometimes accompanied by swelling in the hands or legs). Your babies, on the other hand, are more likely to have birth disorders and defects. However, worrying about it will not help and for that reason you should focus on a healthy diet with emphasize on folic acid, iron, calcium and other essential nutrients, and strictly follow all your doctor’s instructions because twin pregnancy requires more precautions.
You can expect more pronounced pregnancy symptoms if carrying twins which means that you will most likely experience more severe morning sickness, severer back pain, more weight gain, etc. It is also highly important to keep in mind, that most women who are pregnant with twins go into labor earlier (usually in the 36th and 37th week of pregnancy) than those with single pregnancy and that twin delivery usually requires a Caesarean section, so be sure to be prepared. You are also highly recommended to consult with your doctor about hospitals that are have the necessary equipment for emergency Caesarean delivery and intensive care facilities for premature newborns before making any arrangements.
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