Author: Meredith Kasbohm, MD, and mother to twins.
If you're diagnosed with a twin pregnancy or other multiples, here's what you need to know to take good care of yourself — and your babies.
How multiples are made
Sometimes a twin pregnancy just happens. In other cases, specific factors are at play. For example, a twin pregnancy is more likely as you get older because hormonal changes can cause more than one egg to be released at a time. Use of assisted reproductive technologies — such as in vitro fertilization — also boosts the odds of twins or other multiples.
Fraternal twins — the most common kind — occur when two separate eggs are fertilized by two different sperm. Each twin has his or her own placenta and amniotic sac. The twins can be two girls, two boys, or a boy and a girl. Genetically, they're no more alike than any other siblings.
Identical twins occur when a single fertilized egg splits and develops into two fetuses. Identical twins might share a placenta, but each baby usually has a separate amniotic sac. Genetically, the two babies are identical. They'll be the same sex and share physical traits and characteristics.
Triplets and other higher order multiples can be identical, fraternal or a combination of both.
Diagnosing a twin pregnancy
Ultrasound is used early on to help identify if the babies have their own placentas and amniotic sacs. This differentiation is important to help with management as the babies get bigger.
What twin pregnancy means for mom
Taking good care of yourself is the best way to take care of your babies. During a twin pregnancy, you can expect:
· More-frequent checkups.
· More emphasis on certain nutrients.
· More weight gain.
· More precautions.
· Earlier concern about overdue pregnancy.
Healthy multiples are born every day. Still, it's important to be aware of possible complications. For example:
· High blood pressure.
· Premature birth.
· Twin-twin transfusion.
· Possible C-section delivery.
Caring for multiples
Healthy multiples have the same needs as other newborns. Yet with twins, you'll have a double dose. You might need more rest and support than you imagined, especially if your babies are born prematurely or need special medical care after birth. Take time to enjoy your babies — and ask friends, loved ones and others for help when you need it.