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Expecting twins

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 18 April 2008

Two bundles of joy means more organisation! Here's everything you need to know about being pregnant with twins to help you prepare for the birth.

When do you find out?
Twin pregnancies are often detected very early when you have an ultrasound scan. Your pregnancy will be well monitored because multiple pregnancies are more risky than singleton pregnancies.

Special needs
- Twins may be at risk of the following:
If they are identical and share a placenta, one of the twins can get more blood supply than the other.
The chances of premature birth are higher with twins because of the dilation of the uterus.
- During pregnancy:
You may get more tired.
You put on more weight.
The side-effects are often more marked (nausea, varicose veins, stretch marks, breathlessness etc).
High blood pressure is more common.
More twins are born by Caesarian than singletons, partly because of the babies' position, and also because of the risk of placenta previa (where the placenta is close to or covers the cervix).

What precautions do you need to take?
Rest is vital. Make sure you lie down, have naps and siestas and get help with the housework - don't be shy about asking your friends and family for a hand.
You may need to stop work early if your doctor advises it.
You will see your doctor more often than you would with a singleton pregnancy (around every 2-3 weeks during the first and second trimester, and weekly visits in the third trimester, or maybe more frequent visits if there are any complications or problems).
Make sure you go for all the scans, screening and tests your doctor recommends, especially urine tests, which can detect an increase in serum albumin.
Your doctor may put you on a special diet so that you don't put on too much weight (this can be dangerous for yourself and your babies). Follow it strictly.

More scans
If you're expecting identical twins (from the same egg), you'll be more closely monitored and undergo more scans, because there is a higher risk of twin transfusion syndrome or TTS.
If you're expecting fraternal twins, you'll have your first scan at 12 weeks and a second at 18 weeks, along with a scan of the neck of the uterus. If everything is normal, you'll then have scans around every 4 weeks.

The birth
Twins are very often born before term; otherwise, your doctor may induce you at 39 weeks so that the birth takes place in the best possible conditions. Decide where you're going to give birth early and make sure the hospital has an intensive care unit and an operating theatre. Make sure you go to ante-natal classes to get all the information you need. You may be able to be visited by a midwife at home from 24 weeks onwards rather than go to your doctor; ask your GP for more information about this.

More information
For more information about twin pregnancy, twin births and bringing up twins, see www.twinsonline.org.uk, www.twinsclub.co.uk or www.twinsuk.co.uk.

by Sarah Horrocks

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