It’s no surprise that many parents are initially shocked and then a little overwhelmed when they learn they have twins, triplets or more!
We hope this discovery is made early in pregnancy, then the healthcare professionals caring for the expectant mother can provide detailed guidance and care for twin pregnancy week by week.
Parents need time to get used to the idea of having multiple babies, they need to make plans and learn as much as possible about multiple births. But the first thing to realize is that they are not alone! Today there is one twin pair for every 62 live births. That’s around 10,000 multiple births each year in the UK.
Gemini presents a whole new set of challenges, both practical and financial.
The key to progressing a woman’s twin pregnancy week by week will be her prenatal care program, which should include tips on having a healthy multiple pregnancy, coping with common ailments, and being aware of the potential complications of carrying more than one baby.
Women with twins or more are automatically classified as ‘high risk’. However, they should try not to worry about this terminology and remember that having more than one baby is a natural process.
The mother of twins will not automatically experience complications, but being on a high-risk record will mean she is being watched more closely and any potential issues need to be addressed quickly and efficiently.
This high level of prenatal care will give parents the opportunity to ask lots of questions and find out exactly how their twin pregnancies are progressing.
A multiple pregnancy is divided in the same way as any three-phase pregnancy that makes up the first, second, and third trimesters.
your multiple pregnancy
If you’re pregnant with more than one baby, the routine tests you do may vary depending on where you live, but initially your doctor should be able to determine what your antenatal care program will include.
Your first full prenatal appointment will likely be around 11-14 weeks, when your height, weight, blood, and urine will be checked, and you’ll likely discover that you’re carrying twins during this first ultrasound scan.
In an ideal world, you would be watched around 8-10 weeks, but like many women, you probably wouldn’t suspect you were carrying twins this early.
You will have several antenatal appointments during your pregnancy. The number and frequency will depend on your hospital or clinic, your health, the number of babies you are carrying and your pregnancy history.
Your care may be provided by a specialist obstetrician, specialist midwife, or even a specialist sonographer (an ultrasound-trained radiographer or midwife) with multiple birth experience.
You may be referred for other specialist help from a physical therapist for pelvic pain or back pain, a dietitian if your diet is a concern, or even a counselor or psychotherapist if you are overly concerned about childbirth.
Throughout your pregnancy, you will have frequent ultrasound scans to check the baby’s position and growth. As with singleton pregnancies, other diagnostic tests (eg for Down Syndrome) will be offered at the relevant stages of pregnancy.
The first ultrasound scan at 10-14 weeks will confirm the number of fetuses and how many placentas and whether they are in separate chorionic and amniotic sacs. If babies share an amniotic sac, it will be the same. But sometimes identical twins have one each, so your babies can be identical even if you have two amniotic sacs.
Babies who share a placenta (monochionic) are at higher risk of complications such as Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome or entangled cords, and in these cases, scans will likely be done every other week.
Further scans throughout the pregnancy will check that the babies are developing normally and the position of the placenta.
The position of the so-called “leading” twin at around 34 weeks of pregnancy will help your medical team decide on the safest method of delivery (vaginal or cesarean section).
Some hospitals have special prenatal classes for multiple pregnancies. Prenatal classes are especially important if you’re experiencing a multiple pregnancy, but because twins often arrive early, make sure you complete the course before your babies arrive.