Clarify the Different Types of Twins
There are three main types of twins: identical, fraternal and non-identical. Identical twins are formed when a single fertilized egg splits in two and both halves form separate embryos. As the embryos develop they share the same genetic material as they come from the same egg. Identical twins also have the same gender and look very similar. Fraternal twins occur when two eggs are fertilized by two different sperm at the same time and create two separate embryos. They do not have the same genetic information but usually look similar since they’re from the same womb. Non-identical twins are a rare form of twinning which occurs for no known reason and involve an egg splitting multiple times to create sub blastocysts that turn into identical or fraternal twins, depending on whether or not more than one egg was released during ovulation that month.
Detection of Zygosity
If you suspect you may be pregnant with twins, there are several ways to determine whether the babies are identical or fraternal. One way is through zygosity testing. This type of testing can detect if you are expecting one biologically identical baby, two genetically unique babies, or something in between.
Zygosity testing checks for similarities between the babies’ DNA at various markers and then compares them to determine if they are “monozygotic” (identical) or “dizygotic” (fraternal). Monozygotic twins share all their genetic material from a single fertilized egg that splits into two separate embryos; so they are genetically and medically alike in every way. Dizygotic twins, on the other hand, develop from separate eggs which have been fertilized by different sperm cells and can have very different genetics and medical traits even though they may look similar.
Zygosity test results provide information about the type of pregnancy even before any ultrasound tests can give definitive answers. It’s usually performed after 10-14 weeks gestation so that it doesn’t affect the natural delivery process of your pregnancy; however it might delay diagnosis compared to ultrasound testing. Nevertheless, Zygosity testing is a far more comprehensive way to diagnose twin pregnancies since it looks at multiple genes instead of just relying on physical characteristics and can identify individual genes mutations.
Increased Risks of a Multiple Pregnancy
The risks of a multiple pregnancy are much higher than with a singleton pregnancy. Women carrying twins are at greater risk for preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and anemia as well as a higher Cesarean section rate. These conditions can be dangerous for both mother and babies. In addition, the possibility of birth defects increases with multiple pregnancies due to the higher amount of amniotic fluid in each sac. Complications can also include having a low-birth-weight baby, difficulty during delivery and even stillbirths. Twins sometimes share a placenta, which can lead to complications such as unequal growth rates, one twin having more amniotic fluid than the other and uneven amounts of nutrients gleaned from the mother’s blood supply. These types of problems typically require specialized care throughout the entire course of the pregnancy in order to ensure the healthiest outcome possible for both mothers and babies.
Nurturing a Twin Pregnancy
A mother carrying twins can expect to go through physical and emotional changes that are different than those of a single pregnancy. While it varies with every woman, symptoms of a twin pregnancy can include: higher-than-normal morning sickness, more intense fatigue, carrying the baby low and out front, increased backache and Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in the pregnancy, larger abdominal circumference measurements at each prenatal visit, feeling fetal movements multiple times an hour and even feeling them simultaneously.
It is important for mothers carrying twins to recognize these physical changes they may be experiencing while also acknowledging if they are experiencing any additional mental or emotional stress from this. Letting go of unrealistic expectations of oneself can help manage stress levels as well as developing healthy approaches to problem solving (such as making a list and taking action steps). Connecting with other mothers of multiples is also recommended as it has been found to provide support for those going through similar circumstances.
Lastly, it is essential for the mother to listen to her own body’s needs so she can adjust if necessary. Taking extra rest when possible and reaching out for help from family members, friends or professionals when warranted can be critical during a twin pregnancy; achieving balance between rest and activity as much as possible will help ensure the healthiest outcome all around.
Connect with Other Mothers of Twins
Connecting with other mothers of twins is a great way to get help and advice while navigating the unique journey that comes with having multiples. Being part of an online support group on social media or joining an in-person network dedicated to this parenting experience can provide valuable resources, connections and understanding during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. Mother of twins chatrooms or forums often offer experienced, firsthand advice that can be invaluable during the chaotic days of caring for newborns. These networks can also provide moral support from families who understand what you are going through and may have overcome similar struggles in multiple childbirth and parenting. Finding meaningful connection with other women who have been in your shoes can help bring clarity and assurance that you are not alone.
One of the most important resources a pregnant woman can utilize are her OB/GYN and other healthcare providers. This can include their primary doctor, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, and pediatrician. All medical personnel should be prepared to offer specialized care for women with multiples pregnancies.
Additionally, there are many online resources available for pregnant women who are expecting twins or more. Expecting parents can access information about ultrasounds, prenatal testing, and health and nutrition for as well as connecting with in-person support groups offered by hospitals or childbirth educators through classes or workshops. There are also twin-specific organizations such as the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs (NOMOTC) which offers online resources with information about raising multiples including safety guidelines and product recommendations.
Welcome to my fertility blog. This is a space where I will be sharing my experiences as I navigate through the world of fertility treatments, as well as provide information and resources about fertility and pregnancy.