Twin birth rates are on the rise in the United States and globally, but despite that, they’re still uncommon. In fact, worldwide, only about 1-1.2% of live births are twin births. The overwhelming majority of births are single babies (sometimes referred to as “singleton” pregnancies).
If you’re carrying twins, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed right now — especially if twins don’t “run” in your family. Arming yourself with a few important facts now can help you understand what to expect as your pregnancy progresses.
Paul W. Morrison, M.D. has extensive experience caring for women carrying twins and other multiples at his practice in Newburgh, Indiana, which serves the Evansville area. Here are five things he wants you to know about the twin pregnancy experience.
1. You’re going to gain more weight
With a single pregnancy, most women gain 25-35 pounds. But for women carrying twins, a weight gain of 37-54 pounds is more typical.
You don’t want to overeat during pregnancy (no matter how many babies you’re carrying). But you also need to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to support the growth and development of two babies. Dr. Morrison provides plenty of nutritional guidance to help keep you and your developing babies healthy.
2. Morning sickness will probably be worse
Morning sickness is common in all pregnancies, especially during the first trimester. The feelings of nausea are associated with rising levels of a pregnancy-related hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).
Women carrying multiple babies have higher levels of hCG, so that means they’re more likely to suffer from morning sickness, and the nausea sensations are also more likely to be stronger. Some women suffer from a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive vomiting during pregnancy) and may require IV fluids to avoid dehydration.
3.You have increased risks of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia
Carrying multiple babies puts extra strain on your body, so your risks of some pregnancy complications are going to climb. Dr. Morrison recommends more frequent doctor visits for most moms expecting multiples, so he can closely monitor their health and the health of their babies. Depending on each woman’s risk factors, he also recommends specific tests to identify — and manage — potential problems early on.
4. There’s a greater chance you’ll need a C-section
Some twins are “monochorionic,” meaning they share a single placenta and, sometimes, a common amniotic sac as well. These deliveries are more complicated, and typically, a Cesarean delivery (C-section) is “safer” for both mom and baby.
With twins, there’s also a greater chance that at least one baby will be in the breech position, making birth more difficult for both the baby and the mother. If one or both babies is in this “feet-first” position, there’s a good chance Dr. Morrison will recommend a scheduled C-section for your delivery.
5. Moms carrying twins often deliver earlier
The average gestation period for women is 40 weeks. Women carrying multiple babies tend to deliver earlier. With twins, the average is closer to 37-38 weeks.
In fact, earlier delivery could be safer, reducing the risk of complications. Depending on your individual needs, Dr. Morrison may recommend planning a C-section for 38 weeks if you’re carrying twins.
Focus on yourself
If you’re carrying twins, it’s easy to feel extra anxious. But remember, you’re embarking on a journey few women ever get to experience. Before delivery, set up a network of family and friends who can give you the physical and emotional support you need as you adjust to your new role as a parent of multiples.
To schedule your next prenatal exam or to learn more about how we can help you navigate pregnancy with multiples, call 812-490-5200 or book an appointment online with Dr. Morrison today.