What to Expect on your Multiple-Birth Pregnancy

What to Expect on your Multiple-Birth Pregnancy

Is it twins, triplets or maybe more?  Pregnant mothers often suspect that they are carrying more than one baby. Under natural conditions, your chance of having a pregnancy with more than one baby is relatively low (approximately a 1.5% chance).  However, the number of multiple births has increased dramatically over the past 10-15 years.  There are two specific reasons contributing to this increase. The first is the use of fertility drugs and in-vitro fertilization. The second is the increase of pregnancies in older moms, who have an increased likelihood of multiple birth pregnancies. We’ve put together a list of the most common signs of a twin or multiple pregnancy. Check your symptoms against this list to see if you might be having twins or more. How to Know if I’m Having A Multiple Pregnancy? Most multiple pregnancies are discovered long before delivery.  There are a few major signs and symptoms that may make you and your health care provider suspicious: Family history of fraternal twins; Larger uterus than expected; Use of fertility drugs; Extreme nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (from increased levels of pregnancy hormones); More than one heartbeat! Generally, if multiple pregnancies are suspected, an ultrasound will be done to confirm it. What Can I Expect? Did you know that having more than one baby puts you at a greater risk for developing problems during the pregnancy, as compared with a single-birth pregnancy (one baby)?  All multiple pregnancies are considered high risk and will be treated as any other high-risk pregnancy. Expect to see your health care provider more often than if you were just carrying one baby.  More ultrasounds will be done in order to make sure there is enough room for the babies, and that they are growing at the same rate throughout the pregnancy. You are also at a higher risk for maternal and fetal complications, so you will be more closely monitored overall. Having a multiple pregnancy may make you more uncomfortable, because you will gain more weight than with one baby. Your uterus will become much larger, and this may place more pressure on the other organs earlier than in a single-birth pregnancy. You may experience symptoms earlier and more intensely. Some of these include: Hemorrhoids; Shortness of breath; Constipation; Pelvic pain; Heartburn; Urinary problems; Back pain As your pregnancy progresses, the physical discomfort may prevent you from continuing to work as long as you had planned.  In more extreme cases, it may even require hospitalization for several weeks before you are ready to deliver.  However, some women have no more problems than with a normal pregnancy. What Are The Risks? Multiple birth pregnancies put more of a strain on your body and your uterus. Two or more babies mean a bigger placenta and higher levels of circulating hormones. These changes can lead to more pregnancy complications. If you’re expecting three or more babies, you may wish to talk with your doctor about selective reduction.  Carrying triplets or more puts you at high risk of miscarriage or extremely preterm delivery, with long-term health problems for all of your babies. Knowing ahead of time what might occur permits us to take quick, timely appropriate action in order to rectify the situation.  While many of the above possibilities may not happen to you, it is wise to be informed and able to make the best possible decision based on your individual situation. Knowledge is power.


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