How do twins occur and what are your chances of conceiving them?

Imagine trying for one baby and ending up with two! Statistics show that there has been an increase in twin pregnancies over the past few years and this short guide offers some basic facts about having twins.

How do twins happen?

There are two kinds of twin pregnancies: identical twins and fraternal twins. In the case of identical twins, the egg is fertilized and then splits into two cells. Each cell carries identical DNA and so both children will look exactly the same with only slight differences such as height or birthmarks. Fraternal twins are not identical. Instead of having one egg that splits into two, there are two eggs that are fertilized by two different sperm at the same time so they could be of two different sexes with different physical characteristics.

Most women will release one egg a month during the ovulation period but occasionally two eggs are released. The chance of this happening is higher in:

  • Women over 35
  • Women who have just come of the contraceptive pill
  • Women who are on fertility drugs such as clomid
  • Women who have a history of twins in the family
  • Women who are West African – Nigeria in particular have a twin pregnancy rate of around 1 in 20!
  • Women who have a BMI of over 30 or who are taller than average

Early signs of twin pregnancy

An early sign of twin pregnancy is excessive morning sickness and extreme fatigue. Morning sickness is common with all pregnant mothers but those who are giving birth to multiples tend to experience more morning sickness than usual. Exhaustion is another early sign of twin pregnancy. Again, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to be more tired than usual but those who are having twins tend to undergo enhanced exhaustion. Twins are hereditary and so if you are feeling excessively tired, are often nauseous and twins run in your family, you very well could be giving birth to multiples!


Twin pregnancy facts

With twins, you’ll have to prepare for double the trouble! This means you will probably be gaining more weight than with a single pregnancy. You will likely start to have a bump earlier than women carrying a single baby. Due to this extra weight, a pregnancy with twins can often be more uncomfortable – severe exhaustion, stronger backaches and headaches, etc. So get plenty of sleep and rest. Try a pregnancy massage, a great stress reliever to those giving birth to multiples. Because a twin pregnancy is considered a high risk pregnancy, you will probably need to consult your obstetrician more often than if you were having a singleton pregnancy. Women who are carrying twins will be offered more ultrasound scans too to keep an eye on the growth of the baby.

The type of delivery a woman carrying twins will have very much depends on the way the babies are laying. If both babies are head down or the first twin nearest the cervix is head down, a vaginal birth may be possible. Many women with twins however deliver by caesarean section.

Having a twin pregnancy is most certainly a mixed blessing. Whilst having two children is an amazing experience, the pregnancy itself can be tough so make sure to take care of yourself.