When you find out that you’re pregnant with twins, you naturally feel nervous, overwhelmed, and slightly stressed out. But sooner than you know, you feel a sense of excitement and happiness and why not - A twin pregnancy is a double blessing, after all.
Obviously the pregnancy period will be characteristically different from a singleton pregnancy. Many women pregnant with twins don’t know what to expect - but that doesn’t mean that it can't be learned. Although individual experiences may vary, the overall pregnancy symptoms feel “heightened” and “special.”
These two little miracles are sure to change your life for the better, and that’s why you need to know what to expect when you are expecting twins.
10 Fatigue, backache, morning sickness
Signs of morning sickness are usually one of the factors used in the confirmation of pregnancies. A high level of human chorionic gonadotropin is what is postulated to cause morning sickness in pregnant mothers and these levels are even higher in woman who are pregnant with twins.
So, women carrying twins are more prone to having morning sickness, vomiting and general nausea. But, there is a little good news for those too anxious about it - most of the time, morning sickness abates within 12-14 weeks of twin pregnancies.
Heightened pregnancy symptoms also curtail backache, breast tenderness and fatigue -all of these are more intensely felt during the first trimester of twin pregnancies as compared to singleton ones. Some mothers even complain of sleeping difficulties and heartburn. There is a slight possibility that a few mothers won’t experience these symptoms until late in the first trimester.
9 Multiple heartbeats
The Doppler effect is a basic physics concept and can be harmlessly applied while detecting fetal heartbeat. It's very commonly used by medical practitioners these days and is more trusted than using a simple stethoscope.
This system amplifies the fetal heartbeat using low frequency sound waves that can be obtained as an electronic audio output. Late in the first trimester, your OB/GYN should be able to detect two instead of one heartbeat - that is often a confirmation of twin pregnancy (except for when the twin heartbeat count is mistaken for the baby’s and the mother’s heartbeat).
To make sure that the multiple heartbeat is not misread, take a second opinion from a different medical practitioner, or wait until the second trimester to reconfirm the double fetal heartbeat count.
8 Early and frequent fetal fluttering
During the second trimester - from week 16 to week 20 - your babies’ kidneys, stomach and urine in their bladder starts to function. And, all these symptoms can be detected via an ultrasound. By this time there is a lot of movement going on in your body.
And by the end of week 20, it is believed that your two packets of joy will start getting “aware of each other.” This leads to the feeling most mothers pregnant with twins have - frequent fetal flutters and kicks. Be on the lookout for gastrointestinal activities as well.
If you concentrate enough or have experienced a pregnancy before, you will be able to clearly distinguish between gastrointestinal and fetal movements. Fetal fluttering is natural and expected - after all, what are siblings that don’t tussle and fight for space and attention?
7 Weight gain
One of the most obvious identifiers for a twin pregnancy is the unusually large weight gain - often detected early in the pregnancy due to the increased blood volume and uterine size. And as the pregnancy progresses, the weight gain increases even more. This is no cause for panic or stress - you are carrying two little humans instead of one!
By the end of week 20, your belly will be showing and you will start to look quite pregnant. By the end of the second trimester, your babies are growing even more rapidly - fighting for space and thus stretching the uterus.
At the end of this trimester, most mothers pregnant with twins would have gained around 6-12 kilograms whereas those pregnant with a single baby gain 4-10 kilos. Continue eating nutritional food and following a healthy lifestyle, as these are important needs during your pregnancy
6 Abnormal test results
A twin pregnancy needs your body to work overtime, and more often than not, your body’s vital functions, hormones, and chemical levels will vary abnormally because of the intense efforts being clocked by your organs and tissues. High blood pressure and anemia are frequent twin pregnancy symptoms that moms have to deal with. Careful monitoring and healthy diets are essential to prevent serious complications.
Women pregnant with twins, apart from expecting higher hCG hormone levels (which as we earlier discussed increases morning sickness), should also expect abnormal AFC test results. AFC test measures the amount of protein secreted by the fetal liver and mothers expecting twins will have even higher levels of this protein in their bloodstream.
Sometimes, abnormal AFC result might indicate a complication in a singleton pregnancy, hence medical supervision is suggested to know exactly what is going on.
5 Preterm labor and birth
Towards the end of a twin pregnancy you will feel decreased fetal movements, as there is simply not enough space for your little ones to move around in your womb, so don’t panic. Common symptoms of preterm labor are feeling of fullness, pelvis pressure, secretion of amniotic fluids and sometimes even spotting or bleeding.
After months of fighting for space in your womb, your little ones might need an early escape out. A twin pregnancy is more likely to last for 37-39 weeks as opposed to the 39-41 weeks length of a singleton pregnancy.
Although it can sometimes be delayed with medical attention, your cervix will have most likely begin to dilate by the 37th week, leading to an early birth - which can sometimes be considered as a complication. You should also prepare yourself for the significant chances of having your babies delivered by a C-section.
4 More time with the OB/GYN
Mothers pregnant with twins need to clock in more time with a medical practitioner, as a lot of symptoms and effects need to monitored more closely - signs of preterm labor and other twin pregnancy complications.
There will be more frequent with ultrasounds and prenatal tests in order to check for growth and development of your twins. You will also be advised to take additional folic acid, iron and protein, as compared to moms pregnant with a single baby. You will need to rest and relax more and would be advised to limit activities like traveling and exercising.
Your medical practitioner can also tell you whether you will have your twins by natural birth or Caesarian delivery. Pay careful heed to what the doctor says and you will very likely have a smooth and hassle-free pregnancy.
3 Gestational diabetes
It's a type of diabetes that occurs commonly during pregnancies, and is even more common during twin pregnancies. It can be easily detected between week 24 and week 28 with the help of a glucose tolerance test.
The biggest risk of having gestational diabetes is the possibility of giving birth to larger babies that will naturally require a Cesarean delivery. It can even damage the placenta that might cause the baby to have breathing problems at birth.
Moderate physical exercise during pregnancy can help prevent this anomaly in mothers pregnant with twins.
2 Chances of miscarriage increases
Unfortunately the chances of miscarriage are higher in twin pregnancies than singleton pregnancies due to increased chromosomal abnormalities. Sometimes, a woman suffers a miscarriage earlier in the pregnancy and yet the pregnancy carries on - when one of the twins is miscarried and the other one continues to grow.
Also, frequent amniocentesis - that are ironically essential for prenatal care - can cause a miscarriage to happen, as sticking the amniotic fluid often can cause the baby to be more prone to a miscarriage. The risk of miscarriage is 1 in a 1000 for singleton pregnancies while it increases up to 1 in 500 in twin pregnancies.
1 Your intuition tells you beforehand!
The most fundamental difference between a twin pregnancy and as a singleton pregnancy is a mother’s intuition - and no one can really argue with that. Although an ultrasound is what ultimately confirms a twin pregnancy, most times a mother will just know what exactly is up.
Love can sometimes be an answer - puzzlingly so - to mind-boggling problems. Knowledge of a family history of twin pregnancies can also help you prepare for the oncoming pregnancy. Nevertheless, without a proper medical examination, there is no concrete way to recognize the sex of your babies.