I have always had a fear of having twins. They run in the family, but I have always thought that it "wouldn't happen to me". When I did fall pregnant with twins, it was like a bolt of electricity. Twin babies! One baby was hard enough. Help! I was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Given that twins run in the family, I should have seen it coming. I ticked most of the boxes to increase my chance of having twins. I just forgot to warn my husband.
My Twin Story
Deciding whether to try for a third baby was a difficult decision. Time was ticking away and being slightly older, I fell pregnant straight away. My previous pregnancies had been uncomplicated so when I had a little bit of bleeding at 6 week, I was terrified. Oh, did I mention that we live in Spain? Sorting out medical problems in a different language always adds extra stress.
My husband took the two boys home for dinner whilst I drove to the hospital alone. Alone and terrified.
I'm not sure the sonographer had attended her "bed side manners" class during training. There was no warning, no preamble, no "are you ready to hear some news?" Just...
"There are two!"
And that was how I found out. I was so shocked I truly didn't know whether to laugh because I wasn't miscarrying or to cry because my mum had twins when I was nearly 12 and I knew...I knew that 2 babies is more hard work than one.
Monozygotic or Identical Twins
There are two different types of twins, identical and non-identical and it’s the non-identical type that run in families.
Identical twins or monozygotic twins are the result of one egg (or zygote) splitting into two and becoming 2 embryos. They contain exactly the same DNA and that's why they look so similar. They usually have one amniotic sac, although it is possible for the zygote to split very early and then they have a sac each.
The chance of having identical twins is 1 in 300. It’s entirely random, there’s nothing you can do to change it.
Dizygotic or Non-identical Twins
Dizygotic twins are also called non-identical twins or fraternal twins. They are the result of two different sperm fertilising two ova. Hence, they share DNA but are not identical, just like any other full brother and sister.
Roughly 1 in 100 births are non identical twins. (It varies from place to place, presumably due to nutrition and other factors that we aren’t aware of.)
In theory, a woman releases one ova (egg) every month. In which case, there would only be one foetus (unless it split in two to become identical twins.)
Some women sometimes release more than one ova. They hyper ovulate. More ova, more chance of twins.
The Twin Gene. Hyperovulation runs in Families.
This capacity to hyper ovulate is genetic. The twin gene. It runs in families but is only expressed by women. So a husband doesn’t affect his wife’s chances of having twins. (Although he may affect his daughter’s if he passes the gene on to her.)
The twin gene is clearly in my family. My mother and my grand mother both had twins. The bit about it skipping a generation isn’t true.
Increased Chances of having Twins
It’s not just genetics that affect your chance of having twins. Other factors that increase your chances of having non-identical twins are:
- Age, over 35.
- Previous births.
- Nutrition, being well nourished rather than having poor nutrition.
- West African descent.
- Tall and above average weight.
- Fertility treatment.
Increase Your Chances of having Twins
There isn’t much that you can do to increase your chance of having twins. Most of the things you can’t change. You can keep having children and make sure you eat a healthy diet when you are trying to conceive. But that’s about it.
Can Twins Have Twins?
Yes, twins can have twins. If they are female and are non-identical twins, they may well have the twin gene from their mother. But then so may any of their sisters who aren’t twins.
Otherwise, it’s just luck. The same as everyone else.
Having Twins is Great Fun
Since that day, I have learnt to love having twins. I have to confess that to begin with, it took a while to get used to the idea. I remember sitting on the beach watching a family, 4 children playing, they were siblings and cousins. I watched them thinking "that will be our family".
I was enormous when I was pregnant, not fat, just enormous. I'm tall and thin. I just had the most amazing giant bump you have ever seen.
Parenting young twins can be hard work. Parenting young children can be hard work. But when I cuddle up with two sticky, pudgy little cuddly babies, it's all worth it.
Parenting twins is awesome and now I can't believe how lucky I am.
Pre Natal Class
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