There are a decent chunk of couples out there who barely try — if at all —to conceive. Many are taken by surprise. Others start off the process of trying to conceive believing it will take time only to find they are knocked up and loving it a month or two in. The first thought on many women’s minds when they see those two pink lines is holy crap, there’s a baby inside me. Or something that resembles that.
Still, for some women, they have longed for the day that they would become mothers and they relished the thought of having more than one child. We aren’t just talking siblings here, though. Multiples! Yes, believe it or not, not everyone was gawking at the Octomom in shame. Some women were downright jealous of Nadya Suleman and her flock of eight children.
Of course, not everyone wants to birth eight babies at once, but plenty of people are up for twins and triplets these days. This event can actually happen all on its own, too. No, it is not just resigned to people doing fertility treatments. Of the 3,988,076 live births in the United States during 2015, 139,862 were multiples.
Sometimes, women put on more weight than they expected in the first trimester or have such severe morning sickness that they begin to wonder if their experience is really the norm. Perhaps, it’s twins? Triplets? Quads? Oh my!
The truth is, there are a few signs that multiples might be on the way. Still, most of them should be taken with a grain of salt as they are not definitive proof of more than one baby in a momma’s belly. Nonetheless, these are the signs to watch for.
15 Unusually High HCG Levels
This is one of the strongest signs of multiples. As soon as a fertilized embryo implants into the uterine wall, the body starts to produce human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is sometimes referenced as the pregnancy hormone. It is what makes a pregnancy test pop positive when it is present over 5 mIU/ml.
During the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, it takes roughly two to three days for these levels to double. They will continue in this pattern until around the sixth or seventh week, when it starts to slow and can take as long as a week to double.
While the doubling aspect is what most women are used to paying attention to, this has very little to do with carrying multiples. Instead, it is the numerical level itself that might be indicative that more than one baby is on board. Higher than average HCG levels are a common trademark of multiple pregnancies. These numbers can range well into the 100,000’s when they should be between no higher than about 55,000 mIU/ml in the sixth week for a singleton.
Still, high HCG levels can also mean the pregnancy is further along than was previously thought, or it could be a molar pregnancy, which is quite serious and can result in a tumor growing inside of the uterus. So, while a high HCG could spell twins or triplets, it’s important to follow up with an ultrasound to make sure it’s not something more serious or a mere dating error.
14 An Intense Positive Test Result
Are you a pee-on-a-stick addict? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you might not be one. But if you’ve ever been pregnant, that’s unlikely. I think it’s safe to say most of us are obsessed with the event that is testing. The anticipation and the shock as a barely there, faint line that might be an indent but it might be a positive, shows up all rolled into one is something pretty darn special. It’s so special, that we want to do it again, and again, and again.
POAS addicts know why blue dye sucks and why early result pink dye tests are the most coveted. They understand the art of internet cheapies, and most of them have about twenty positive tests for their last baby hiding out under the bathroom sink.
So, why all the testing? It’s not just about the feels, folks. It’s also about progression. As a disclaimer: this method is completely anecdotal and can be wrong just as often as it’s right. Still, people do it. People assume that the darker the dye, the higher the HCG. This might be true for some tests, but isn’t for others. Still, if your positive is nice and dark even though your period isn’t even due yet,
13 Showing Early
Sometimes, women who are carrying multiples will start showing earlier than other women who are carrying single babies. This is very subjective and varies a lot, though. For instance, one woman may start showing early with a single baby while another is carrying triplets and doesn’t even look pregnant until she’s halfway through her pregnancy.
Most of the time, women will start to bloat very early on in pregnancy. Many women confuse this excess water retention with a baby bump. However, the uterus is still deep within the pelvis until roughly 12 weeks of pregnancy when it starts to slowly rise up above it. Sorry to say it mommas, that bump is all bloat!
Around 12-14 weeks, the placenta takes over for producing progesterone — which is to blame for all that bloat — and that bump may actually decrease in size before your real baby bump emerges. So, if you feel like you’re showing early, it may actually just be bloating the whole time. But if your uterus is actually rising above your pelvic bone before 10-12 weeks, then this could be a sign there is more than one baby.
12 Large Fundal Height
Keeping with the size of the uterus, if your fundal height is measuring ahead of schedule, it could be due to multiple babies. Fundal height is the measurement vertically between the top of the uterus and the pelvic bone. The measurement in centimeters generally corresponds roughly to the number of weeks pregnant a woman is.
There is room for a bit of a margin, though. Some women will measure two to three weeks smaller or larger than their gestation, and that’s perfectly fine. But women who measure as much as five or more weeks ahead of where they are in gestation may possibly be carrying multiples.
That being said, most of the time, women have an ultrasound around 20 weeks along that would confirm the presence of more than one baby. Usually, fundal height isn’t measured until starting around 24 weeks. So, this sign may be more reserved for women who opt out of the 20-week anatomy scan.
11 Severe Sickness
Morning sickness is one of pregnancy’s many blessings. Some women will experience it and some won’t. Most will at least have some nausea from time to time, but fewer will actually endure vomiting. Around 90 percent of pregnant women will feel queasy at some point during their pregnancy. But only about one-third are throwing up while they’re pregnant.
Unfortunately, this process is more routine for a select number of women. Around 2 percent of pregnant women develop hyperemesis gravidarum. This extreme form of morning sickness is so severe that many women with it need to be placed on strict bed rest with special diets and IV fluids to keep them hydrated.
In recent years, medications like Diclegis have been approved for use during pregnancy to treat morning sickness, but it doesn’t work for everyone. In many of these cases, the culprit may be more than one baby mixing things up in momma’s body. Still, these claims are pretty anecdotal to date.
10 High Blood Pressure
The fact remains that high blood pressure appears to be far more common for moms of multiples than moms carrying singletons. During pregnancy, some mommies go on to develop a chronic form of high blood pressure known as pre-eclampsia that presents significant risks to their babies. These babies generally have to be delivered via induction or Cesarean section before their estimated due dates.
Pre-eclampsia occurs in 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies, but about 1 in 3 will show symptoms of it. These rates are thought to be ever higher among pregnancies carrying multiple babies. Moms carrying twins are more than two times as likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. Typically, high blood pressure doesn’t occur until later in pregnancy, but some women will experience it sooner, and having multiples is one of the reasons why.
9 Rapid Weight Gain
As previously mentioned, some women feel like they are showing early and often, those women may just be packing on a few pounds earlier than expected. The recommended weight gain during pregnancy is roughly 30 pounds, give or take. Women who are overweight before pregnancy are generally advised to gain less while those who are underweight need to add a little more.
Typically, women only gain two to five pounds during the first trimester. Some women won’t gain anything at all. Others will actually lose weight. During these 13 weeks, it’s important to pay attention to weight gain because a sudden, dramatic increase could suggest that more than one bundle of joy will be arriving in a few months. Extra weight gain is recommended when carrying multiples.
Of course, some women merely gain that excess water weight we talked about. Others might take the notion of eating for two a little too seriously and begin to over-indulge early in their pregnancy. It’s important to keep an eye on weight gain, but also eating habits. Not every instance of weight gain speaks to multiples.
8 Extreme Fatigue
This one is pretty hard to decipher, notably. Why? Because pretty much every woman is going to feel extreme fatigue early in their pregnancies. However, for most, that fatigue tends to dissipate when women move into the second trimester. For mommies of multiples, that reality may never come.
Women who feel excessively tired while they are pregnant should not immediately jump to the conclusion that they are pregnant with two, three, four or more babies. Instead, extreme fatigue coupled with other signs of multiples may warrant further investigation for more solid signs of multiples.
So, if you are feeling like it’s hard to get out of bed each day and the lethargy is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, remind yourself that you are pregnant, period. Pregnancy comes with this kind of fatigue. Most likely, it will lift in the coming weeks and months… if you’re having a baby and not babies.
7 Vicious Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are the bane of many women’s existence. They are unsightly. They don’t feel good. They can cause spider veins that branch off from them making them even more unpleasant to look at. Not only can they cause discoloration under the skin, but they can also cause the tissues around them to become stiff, resulting in soreness and pain upon movement.
Bleeding, inflammation, leg ulcers, and deep vein thrombosis are other risks pertaining to varicose veins. The good news for sufferers is that varicose veins are almost always treatable. Usually, they can be removed entirely.
The excess weight decreases the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. However, the overall blood volume in a woman’s veins is increased during pregnancy. For this reason, circulation is easily impaired and varicose veins can form. Women who carry multiples are more likely to develop varicose veins because they are more likely to gain more weight and have greater issues with said circulation.
6 Anemia Among Us
Women who are carrying multiples are more than twice as likely to develop anemia during pregnancy than women carrying singletons are. Anemia is a condition that is diagnosed when a person’s iron levels are too low. During pregnancy, this can be caused by blood disorders, blood loss, or a lack of vitamin B12 or folate.
In 2011, 17 percent of pregnant women in the United States were diagnosed with anemia. This is important, especially during the last trimester, since it can lead to excessive blood loss during birth.
The treatment for this condition generally involves taking a dietary supplement for iron, like Floradix which has been shown to be better absorbed by the body than tablets and pills. Low iron counts can also be brought up by consuming a diet rich with meats, leafy greens, legumes, and seafood.
5 Abnormal AFP
The AFP — or alpha-fetoprotein — testing is performed as early as 15 weeks and it screens babies for chromosomal issues like Down Syndrome. Typically, women who have higher than normal AFP results are sent for an amniocentesis to perform further testing. However, AFP levels are often higher than average in pregnancies with multiples.
For this reason, it’s not recommended that women carrying multiples automatically be sent for amniocentesis.
One study showed that a woman carry triplets and 10 women carrying twins had higher levels of AFP than did 22 control subjects who were women carrying single babies. In another study, 136 women carrying twins paralleled a curve that was 2.5 times greater than the average curve of women who were pregnant with just one baby.
Parents shouldn’t jump to conclusions that anything is wrong if they have a high AFP result. Further testing is necessary before any kind of defect or abnormality can be confirmed.
4 Crazy Food Aversions
Food aversions are pretty normal when it comes to pregnancy. While morning sickness plagues many, and cravings are certain to happen during most pregnancies, not every woman experiences aversions to food.
For some, it may be all food in general. I remember only being able to stomach plain rice and ice cream (no, not together) when I was pregnant with my daughter. With my second son, I went completely vegetarian and hated meat from roughly 5 weeks pregnant until about four months postpartum.
Women who are pregnant with twins and other multiples report more instances of food aversion than women who are pregnant with singletons. As anecdotal as this is, it does appear to be true across polls that have been completed. If you’re a few weeks into the first trimester and feeling like your favorite foods suddenly sound disgusting, it could just be morning sickness.
However, if it persists, it might be an extra baby in there playing a practical joke on Mommy.
3 Early Fetal Movement
This is one of the most talked about topics in any pregnancy group you could ever join. Women get pregnant and as soon as the shock of the test stick wears off, they’re starting to wonder when they will be able to feel their little one move. It’s a special moment that first time that most mommies will never forget.
As soon as they feel their bundle of joy wiggle around or kick, they begin to wonder when Dad and everyone else they love will be able to.
Some say that fetal movement can be sensed earlier during pregnancies with multiples. Most of the time, sensations of movement won’t be noticed with a singleton until about 16 weeks to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Women of a larger size and those with an anterior placenta may have to wait even longer.
Those who are carrying more than one baby are less likely to feel movement on one hand because the babies are likely smaller than a singleton would be at that gestation. However, the more babies there are in that uterus, the more movement is going on and the more likely Mom is to feel it, period.
2 More Than One Heartbeat
Of everything listed here, this is the ultimate confirmation that there is probably another baby in there. We aren’t talking about two heartbeats on a sonogram. That’s pretty obvious. Rather, the first exposure most babies have with their parents is through a Doppler.
Midwives and doctors typically start trying to find the heartbeat on Doppler around 10 weeks of pregnancy. Any earlier than that is usually too soon and only upsets parents who are disappointed or worried when they can’t find it.
Some moms and dads still won’t hear that precious thump thump at even 10 weeks, but most all do by 12 weeks along. When a second heartbeat comes through, many parents are startled at the unexpected sound. Stay calm. Often, that secondary echoing is nothing more than Mom’s heartbeat or the sound of the pulse through the placenta.
Providers know best where to position the Doppler and how to assess for multiples. If they suspect that there are two distinct heartbeats with different heart rates on the Doppler, they will send you for an ultrasound to confirm the presence of multiples.
1 Mom JUST KNOWS
This stop on the list is both the most anecdotal and the most plausible we’ve seen yet. It might surprise you how many women end up guessing that they are carrying multiples before any signs point to such. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling. It’s similar to those dreams moms have that they’re having a boy right before the ultrasound confirms it.
Sometimes, a mother just knows. There are theories looming out there that women’s instincts are some of the stronger mechanisms on the planet. Women have an intense connection to their unborn babies from the moment they are conceived. Some even swear they know when this happens. We aren’t here to judge.
If you suspect you may be carrying twins, triplets, or more, some of the signs suggested here just might back up your theory. Even if they don’t, we suggest you embrace the sweet thought of having more than one baby, but be prepared for a singleton since that’s the likelihood for every woman who gets pregnant. Remember, every baby is a blessing.
Sources: Huffington Post, American Pregnancy, British Medical Journal, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology