Having a baby is a special event in a woman’s life and requires her to take extra care of herself. Her calories intake will increase, although not as much as some women may think, and her protein needs will also be higher to support her body and her growing baby. But, when a woman is carrying twins or even triplets it becomes even more important for her to take good care of herself. There are two types of twins: monozygotic and dyzygotic, more commonly referred to as identical and fraternal twins, respectively.
Identical twins occur when a single egg splits immediately after fertilization and develops into two individual fetuses. They will share a placenta and amniotic sac and are genetically identical to one another. Fraternal twins start as two eggs, fertilized by two sperm and have their own placenta and amniotic sac. These twins are not always of the same sex, and they may not even look alike – genetically they are no more alike than other siblings who are born to the same mother and father.
Michelle has taken a home pregnancy test which is surprisingly positive. She is shocked because she is older and her menstrual cycle has been shockingly erratic lately. Convinced that the test is wrong, she laughingly calls her doctor and tells him what is going on. She is given a blood test and a physical exam, which not only confirms the pregnancy but raises additional questions, including why her hormone levels are elevated so high. An ultrasound shows that she is in fact pregnant but that there are two fetuses in her uterus.
Michelle’s is considered to be a high risk pregnancy for several reasons: first, she is older than the average mother, which puts her at risk for additional pregnancy-related conditions as well as putting her babies at risk for a number of conditions as well. The most common of these conditions in older mothers is Down’s syndrome.
Second, because she is carrying twins, Michelle is at a higher risk for complications. Finally, Michelle’s previous pregnancies were not problem-free, with one resulting in preterm birth and both being marred by gestational diabetes. To make sure that both she and her unborn babies are kept as healthy as possible, Michelle will have to have more frequent health checkups with an obstetrician than she would if she were only carrying one baby. In addition, she will have more frequent ultrasounds to make sure that both twins are developing equally and normally. She may have to come to the doctor every other week starting in the second trimester (months four-six) and then once a week in the third trimester (the seventh month to birth). Twins often come earlier than single births, another factor that she will have to be watched for.