Twins can be of two kinds – fraternal and identical. Fraternal twins are the most common type and develop from fertilisation of two different eggs with two different sperms. They grow in a separate placenta and amniotic sac. They do not resemble one another or look alike. The other kind, identical twins which occur rarely develop from division of a single fertilised egg into two foetuses. Hence, they look alike and are of the same sex, and blood group.
A twin pregnancy may be suspected by your doctor if your uterus is growing fast and appears larger than normal and if there is more than one foetal heartbeat. This can be confirmed by an ultrasound examination.
During a twin pregnancy, you need to take special care of yourself and the babies and you should have:
- Frequent checkups: Frequent visits to the doctor are often recommended to monitor your babies' growth, your health and check signs of preterm labour
- Healthy nutritious diet: You should have more amounts of folic acid, calcium, iron and proteins in your diet. You may take vitamin and iron supplements as per your doctor’s advice
- More weight gain: It is recommended to gain about 16 to 20 kilograms if you have a twin pregnancy and it is important to gain appropriate weight during pregnancy to support your baby’s health
- Precautions: You should refrain from certain activities which may cause strain such as work, travel or strenuous exercise as pregnancy progresses
It is important that you remain aware of possible complications during a multiple pregnancy. High blood pressure is more likely and when it occurs in combination with proteinuria (protein in the urine); it is called preeclampsia which is a serious complication. There is also an increased risk of pre-term labour which may lead to complications such as low birth weight, breathing difficulty, underdeveloped organs, learning and developmental problems in the newborn.