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  Pregnancy eMagazine

Finding out you're carrying more than one

Most parents find out sometime during the first trimester that they are expecting multiples. The usual signs that you may be carrying more than one child include more than usual weight gain early on, or the sound of more than one heartbeat. If you've had in vitro fertilization (IVF), chances are that you'll have a sonogram or ultrasound very early in the pregnancy.

The news can be a shock. Even one baby is a large responsibility. It's normal to feel overwhelmed at the idea of caring for more than one infant at a time. You might be concerned about the financial impact that two or more babies will have on your family. Or you may be wondering how difficult it will be to find child care if you and your spouse will work outside the home after the babies are born.

There's a lot to think about when you find out you're carrying more than one baby. But once you've recovered from the surprise, you'll probably find yourself looking forward to your multiple miracle.

Twins: The most common multiples

Of all multiple births, twins occur the most frequently, followed by triplets. Slightly less than half of all twins are born prematurely. Single pregnancies generally last 282 days, and twin pregnancies average 258 days.

There are two types of twins:

  • Monozygotic (identical) twins come from one egg that splits after fertilization. These twins have the same genetic makeup and usually look very much alike. They are always the same gender.
  • Dyzygotic (fraternal) twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilized. These twins do not have the same genetic makeup, and they can be both boys, both girls or a boy and girl. Twins resulting from IVF are almost always fraternal.

The first trimester: A good time to talk about pregnancy care

The first trimester of a multiple pregnancy is usually the easiest. If you have morning sickness or extreme fatigue, which are common in any pregnancy, it may not seem particularly easy. But in terms of carrying more than one embryo, there isn't too much about the first trimester that is different from a single pregnancy.

The first trimester is a good time to talk with your doctor about:

  • What kind of diet you should be following
  • How much water you should drink
  • What vitamins you should take
  • What kind of exercise is safe to do (and how much longer in your pregnancy it will continue to be safe)
  • How much weight you should gain

Don't be surprised if your doctor advises you to be prepared to stop vigorous exercise after the first trimester. You'll also want to talk about how frequently you need to schedule regular doctor's appointments, because multiple pregnancies usually require more visits than usual.

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Source: Health Online, Inc.

First published: 07/04/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic