Multiple Pregnancy: Twins or More
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This topic is for women who are pregnant with more than one baby. It focuses on the questions that are specific to multiple pregnancies. For information on what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, see the topic Pregnancy.
What is a multiple pregnancy?
A multiple pregnancy means that a woman has two or more babies in her uterus. These babies can come from the same egg or from different eggs.
Babies that come from the same egg are called identical. This happens when one egg is fertilized by one sperm. The fertilized egg then splits into two or more embryos. Experts think that this happens by chance. It isn't related to your age, race, or family history.
If the babies you're carrying are identical, they:
Babies that come from different eggs are called fraternal. This happens when two or more eggs are fertilized by different sperm. Fraternal babies tend to run in families. This means that if anyone in your family has had fraternal babies, you're more likely to have them too.
If the babies you're carrying are fraternal, they:
See a picture of identical and fraternal babies in the uterus.
What causes a multiple pregnancy?
Fertility drugs help your body make several eggs at a time. This increases the chance that more than one of your eggs will be fertilized. When in vitro fertilization is used to help a woman get pregnant, the doctor may put several fertilized eggs in the uterus to increase the chances of having at least one baby. But this also makes a multiple pregnancy more likely.
You're also more likely to have more than one baby at a time if:
What are the risks of a multiple pregnancy?
Any pregnancy has risks. But the chance of having serious problems increases with each baby you carry at the same time.
If you're pregnant with more than one baby, you may be more likely to:
Keep in mind that these problems may or may not happen to you. Every day, women who are pregnant with more than one baby have healthy pregnancies and have healthy babies.
How can you tell if you're carrying more than one baby?
While you may feel like you're carrying more than one baby, only your doctor can say for sure. He or she will do a fetal ultrasound to find out. This test can give your doctor a clear picture of how many babies are in your uterus and how well they're doing.
If the test shows that you're carrying more than one baby, you'll need to have more ultrasounds during your pregnancy. Your doctor will use these tests to check for any signs of problems that your babies may have as they grow.
What type of treatment will you need?
If you're pregnant with more than one baby, you'll need to see your doctor more often than you would if you were having just one baby. This is because you and your babies have a greater chance of developing serious health problems.
Your doctor will do a physical exam at each visit. It's important that you go to every appointment. Your doctor may also do a fetal ultrasound, check your blood pressure, and test your blood and urine for any signs of problems. Early treatment can help you and your babies stay healthy.
You're having multiples. Now what?
The thought of having more than one baby may be scary, but it doesn't have to be. There are some simple things you can do to keep you and your babies healthy.
The best thing you can do is take care of yourself. The healthier you are, the healthier your babies will be.
While you're pregnant, be sure to:
After your babies are born, you may feel overwhelmed and tired. You may wonder how you're going to do it all. This is normal. Most new moms feel this way at one time or another.
Here are some things you can do to ease the stress:
Frequently Asked Questions
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