First ultrasound scan can tell you whether you are carrying twins in the uterus. Even before checking the ultrasound, one can detect and confirm twin pregnancy by many signs and symptoms. In the end of first trimester multiple heart sounds can be detected during Doppler echo. In this article, you will understand about the various signs for detecting twin pregnancy.
Pregnancy Symptoms :
- Missed period
- Increase in hCG levels
- Nausea and vomiting
- Morning sickness
- Change in food habits
- Mood swings
- Increase in weight
These are some of the common symptoms of pregnancy which becomes evident right after the missed periods. Not all women would have these symptoms but many of them would experience fatigue, morning sickness, bloated sensation, motion sickness, heartburn, frequent urination and tender breasts. Experienced midwives can detect multiple heartbeats in the abdomen of the mother.
Before getting deeper into the symptoms of twin pregnancy, firstly you should know how twin pregnancy happens ?
How Are Twins Formed ?
Pregnancy occurs when a sperm gets fused with an egg to form a zygote. Twin pregnancy occurs in two methods. After the process of fertilization and formation of zygote, it divides into two forming identical twins. Zygote is nothing but group of few cells and formation of identical twins happens at the early stages of pregnancy. In this case, two babies would have exactly the same set of genes and chromosomes. These babies will be of same complexion, color and they are very much alike. One out of three twin pregnancies belongs to that of identical twins and the balance two are of non-identical ones.
Read more on Pregnancy Test
Who Can Have Identical Twins ?
Any woman is lucky to have identical twins. These are not influenced by heredity and it can happen to any couple, irrespective of their religion, place and ethnic group. In simple terms, identical twin pregnancy happens in random manner.
Non Identical Twins :
Here separate egg cells get fertilized by two separate sperms and hence non-identical twins are two separate individuals or siblings in a family. They do not have much resemblance in genes and other traits. Non-identical twins can be the same gender or not and they share only 50% (maximum) of the genetic codes. In some families having non-identical twins run in families and mothers and daughters have increased chance of getting twins.
Who Are Likely To Have Twins ?
- Women who conceive in ages of 30 or 40 years have increased risk of having twin pregnancy. Women in teens or in 20’s are not likely to get twin babies.
- Women who are undergoing treatment for ovulation and pregnancy have increased chance of getting twin pregnancy. More volumes of reproductive eggs are produced in the uterus and hence there is likely to have twin babies.
- Women who have already had twin babies are likely to get non-identical twins next time also.
Twin Pregnancy Causes :
What exactly leads to the formation of identical or non-identical twins is not known. It happens by chance.
Symptoms To Identify Twin Pregnancy :
Concrete evidence of having twin babies comes only after completing ultrasound scan. But there are other signs that indicate there is increased possibility of having twin pregnancy.
1. Increased Level Of hCG Hormone – Any woman who is pregnant would have high levels of hCG hormone and the level is much higher if she carries twin babies. But this test alone cannot confirm that there are two babies inside.
2. Maternal Serum Screening – Increased level of alpha fetoprotein levels performed during maternal serum screening can be due to multiple pregnancies. This test is done during the end of first trimester or beginning of second trimester.
3. Large Fundal Height – Fundal height is the distance between the top of uterus till the end of pubic bone. Gestational age of the growing fetus can be found by measuring the fundal height. For mothers who carry twin babies the fundal height would be very large. The uterus would be stretched to maximum extent for such women to accommodate two babies.
4. Increased Weight – Normally, the weight of each healthy pregnant woman would increase about 25-35 pounds and this may vary with many factors like diet and other habits. Woman’s body type, her height and her normal weight determines the weight gain during pregnancy.
Women with twin pregnancy would have maximum of 10 more pounds only when compared with women who carry a single fetus inside (25-30 pounds).
5. Morning Sickness – More than 50% of pregnant women would have morning sickness in the first trimester. In the case of twin pregnancy there can be severe morning sickness. You may experience nausea and vomiting as soon as you wake up and this can start from 7th week onwards for some women. Women with twin babies are more likely to suffer from severe morning sickness than those with single fetus.
6. Early Fetal Movement – Movement of fetus inside the womb can be felt as early as 16th week onwards in many cases. This can be called as “quickening” where some feeling of movement can be felt within 25 weeks. Women carrying more than one baby inside can experience the baby’s movement much earlier than 20th week. And it is important to note that women with subsequent pregnancies can feel the fetus movement early.
7. Fatigue – Fatigue is another important sign of pregnancy. You may feel sluggish and tired all through the day. This is not due to work or family related stress. This can be explained due to lack of nutrients for the metabolic activities since the growing fetus would be given priority to be fed promptly.
8. Early Feeling Of The Uterus – Women with twin pregnancy can feel the “bump” of uterus at the end of sixth week onwards. And they have to switchover to masterly clothing even before completing two months of pregnancy.
9. Increase In Blood Pressure – High blood pressure and headaches are common during pregnancy and you can better see your doctor. Some women complain of frequent headaches during the first trimester which can be due to sudden increase in blood pressure. This is a common feature of women with twin pregnancy which can be described as pregnancy induced hypertension.
Risk Factors :
Some factors can increase the chance of twin babies as per the guidelines given by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. The possibility of having twin pregnancy is high due to the following factors.
Reproductive Medications :
- Women who are undergoing assisted reproductive technology or ART and taking fertility drugs have high chance of getting twin pregnancy.
- Getting pregnancy over 30 years increases the chance of twin pregnancy.
- Women/spouse with family history of non-identical twins is more likely to have multiple babies than others.
- Women with increased BMI value and overweight women are at risk of twin pregnancy.
- Lastly, women who have already had twins have increased chance of delivering set of twins again.
Ultrasound Scan :
You will be asked to go for ultrasound scan during the first trimester. Twin pregnancy can be confirmed and presence of two embryos can be identified on the screen during ultrasound scanning.
Possible Complications :
Not all the women with twin pregnancy are liable to complication. But it is necessary for every woman to keep informed about the physical and mental changes that happen during pregnancy and childbirth. Women with twin pregnancy are at increased risk to give premature birth. They have difficulty in completing the full gestational period of 38 weeks. And the babies born before this period may not have required weight and growth as that of normal baby with full gestational period.
In some cases of twin pregnancy one baby would be larger than the other. It implies more nutrition would be supported to one baby and the other one is deprived of required nutrition. Preeclampsia is a condition which induces high blood pressure in pregnant women and the risk is high in twin pregnancy. In such cases you need to follow the instructions of your doctor in daily diet and take steps to control blood pressure. Conditions like preeclampsia can cause premature birth and placental abruption.