Finding out that you’re having two babies will likely also come as a shock. While some parents find the news as even more reason to celebrate, others may feel a bit overwhelmed. Since this is uncharted territory for so many people, below is an overview of what to expect, and how to maximize your rest and comfort while your body is busy creating two little human beings.
There are several factors that could increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant with twins. These include:
There are two types of twins: identical and fraternal. Identical twins come to be when one zygote (one egg and one sperm) splits into two. They share almost identical genes and have an identical physical appearance.
Then there are fraternal twins, which come into being when there are two fertilized eggs by two separate sperm. They do not share the same genes and do not look alike. If you have a family history of fraternal twins, you have a higher chance of conceiving twins yourself.
There is a Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which stimulates an egg follicle to grow during a woman’s menstrual cycle. As a woman ages, the body requires higher levels of FSH to create eggs. On one hand, this is a sign of lower fertility. On the other hand, due to higher FSH levels, follicles can become over-stimulated and release two eggs instead of one. When this happens, you may end up with twins.
When a woman undergoes In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), the doctor removes eggs from a female and sperm from a male, and embryos are created in a laboratory. Since IVF is so invasive and costly, medical providers will place two or more embryos in the female’s uterus to increase the chance of pregnancy. This sometimes results in two embryos implanting on the uterus.
Fat cells play a crucial role in a woman’s reproductive health. This is because they store estrogen. However, the extra fat also produces higher levels of estriol (please link hormones blog). This hormonal imbalance could make it harder for a woman to
That being said, just as with FSH, the higher estriol levels may lead to overstimulation of the ovaries. As a result, two eggs may be released during one menstrual cycle, resulting in twins.
Taller women have higher levels of insulin growth factor (IGF). IGF is a protein released by the liver that also overstimulates ovaries. Just as with FSH and extra estrogen, this can prompt two eggs to be released during the menstrual cycle. There are also several “old wive’s tales” that float around if you are suspected to be carrying twins.
However, the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment. Your physician will be able to order an ultrasound to determine the number of fetuses as early as 10 weeks, sometimes earlier depending on visibility. Depending on the above risk factor , you may need to see a prenatal specialist to take extra precautions during your gestation.