Recently I’ve had the pleasure of assisting a mummy who has recently given birth to twins. How fantastic is that! and I thought that I might share some really interesting facts.
Did you know that there are many different types of twins?
Identical Twins (Monzygotic)
Identical twins are always the same sex, and usually the same height, weight and have similar hair colour, however different genes can be turned on and off, which explains why one might have a particular medical condition, and the other not. The incidence is approx. 1 in 250 pregnancies.
Non- Identical (Fraternal/Dizygotic)
Two eggs, two sperm which fertilise and then implant independently in the uterus. Women aged 35-40 years are three times more likely to give birth to non-identical twins, than younger mums. In addition fertility treatments will also increase the likelihood of twins.
Semi -Identical Twins
It has been found in recent years that some twins are identical on their mother’s side but share only half their genes on their father’s side.
It was previously thought that twins who share the same placenta were identical. In fact in recent years it has been found that some sets of twins were in fact non identical, despite sharing the placenta, and have now been classed as “Chimaeric”. It is thought that IVF has contributed to the increase in such cases.
MoMo Twins (one sac, one placenta)
These twins share the same inner sac known as the amnion, as well as the same placenta.
In very rare instances, some twins can be joined physically together. This happens when the fertilised egg splits late after fertilisation.
Why are twins higher risk?
Well there are a number of reasons. One of them being that sharing the same placenta means that there is a sharing of the same blood supply, which on occasions can mean that one twin receives more of the blood supply than the other, thereby affecting oxygenation and growth.
Secondly, if the same inner sac is shared, this can also mean that there is a risk of umbilical cord entanglement, cutting off blood supply and oxygenation.
In addition, there is a higher risk of premature labour, high blood pressure, anaemia (low iron levels in mum), polyhydramnios(above average amniotic fluid), placental abruption and placenta praevia (placenta across the cervical os).
How common are twins?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, multiple births make up 1.5% of all births. The incidence of twins is 1 in 80 pregnancies, whilst the incidence of triplets is 1 in 5000.
Tips for the early days
Write everything down! So you know which twin has fed properly and has had adequate nappies, etc. Sleep deprivation definitely affects the memory!
Roster friends and family to help out. Give visitors a job or limit them to take a break for yourself when you can. Don’t forget to look after you and eat properly.
Do what works for you- particularly when it comes to the feeding. Try to feed at the same time. If one wakes up, try to wake the other to feed, to enable more rest time between feeds.
It gets easier. A smaller stomach means more feeds, so as they get older it will get easier. I often say to new mums- aim at getting passed the first six weeks. Hang in there!
Are there any benefits of having twins?
Yes multiple! - One pregnancy, one birth, but two babies. They are great friends for each other.
They may be more social due to being with another child from the start. There is some research indicating that mothers of twins even live longer than average!
Parents of twins and need practical support?
Look no further than the Australian Multiple Birth Association, Raising Children and Twiniversity websites, enlisting the help of family and friends, contacting other parents who have had twins, or even contacting Baby Bliss Postnatal Mother & Baby Service for some extra support!