Your pregnancy is proceeding normally and you are eager to discover the sex of your baby. But life is full of surprises and the ultrasound reveals not one…but multiple babies! But how does this extraordinary phenomenon happen and what can you expect from your pregnancy?
As we already know, a fetus results from the fertilization of an egg by sperm. In the case of multiples, multiple eggs are released or there is more than one ovulation and these fertilized eggs become multiples. Sometimes, a single egg splits one or more times after being fertilized forming multiples fetuses from the same egg. This phenomenon may occur naturally or may be the result of assisted reproduction such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer or in vitro fertilization, which consists in placing one or more fertilized eggs into the uterus in the hopes of generating a pregnancy.
Different types of twins
- Identical twins (monozygotic) are called identical twins and they are from the same egg that has split after conception to form two (or more) embryos. These twins are genetically identical and will, therefore, be of the same sex, have the same eye and hair color and the same blood type. These twins would develop the same genetic disorders.
- Fraternal twins (dizygotic, trizygotic, etc.) develop when multiples eggs are fertilized at the same time. Each child has their own genetic identity and the twins will have no more genetic similarities than their brothers or sisters from a normal pregnancy.
Note that in the case of a multiples pregnancy of more than 4 babies, there can be several variations in zygosity and you can, therefore, give birth to identical twins and fraternal twins at the same time.
Your pregnancy will probably be a little different than your friends’ who are carrying only one baby. You will have more frequent appointments with your doctor and you may even have several ultrasounds so they can insure the proper development of all your babies. Obviously, as you are carrying multiples, you will notice that your symptoms are more important as well as your concerns, questions and fears. Don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor so they can address all these additional sources of stress and reassure you about your new life.
Important: As is the case during a normal pregnancy, never take over the counter drugs without discussing it first with your doctor.
During a multiples pregnancy, it is normal to feel more contractions so you should always listen to the signals your body is sending you and take the time to rest if you feel tired.
If the level and frequency of your contractions intensify and you are worried or there is a risk of preterm delivery, your doctor might decide to put you on bed rest. Remember that it’s important to follow his recommendations as premature births are much more common in multiples pregnancies and the average length for a twin pregnancy is 35 weeks while it goes down to only 31 weeks for triplets. As your babies are more likely to have a low birth weight, you will want to maximize your chances of keeping them warm in there as long as possible!