When you’re pregnant, you have lots of questions and concerns. And when you’re pregnant with twins, well, you have double. Every week I receive dozens of inquiries about giving birth to twins and what it’s like parenting them. Ironically, many of the questions that arrive in my in-box are the same. It seems women pregnant with twins, those wishing to get pregnant with twins, and those who already have twins have nearly identical concerns. Here are the Top Five Questions about your twin pregnancy and their answers.
Will eating yams increase my chances of twinning?
Short answer: Probably not.
This idea started when news spread on the Internet that the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, West Africa has the highest rate of spontaneous twinning in the world. According to research, women in the tribe have about a 4.4 percent chance of twinning. (American women have about a 3.1 percent chance and that’s with the help of ART, assisted reproductive technology.) The reason for the Yoruba’s deluge of twins? A dietary staple among the tribe—cassava, a root vegetable similar to a yam—contains an estrogen-like substance that may cause hyperovulation, the ability to produce more than one egg during a single ovulation cycle. But many other unknown factors may have a hand in the tribe’s high twin birthrate such as heredity, race (Africans overall have a higher twinning rate than any other race), or even environment. So even if you incorporated the cassava into your daily diet, the chances of it helping you conceive twins is probably very small.
What do I need to know about my twin pregnancy?
Short answer: Weight gain and protein are key.
Obviously there’s a heck of a lot of information that all moms-to-be need to know but if you’re pregnant with twins, your number one concern is trying to prevent preterm labor. With twins, you don’t want any early surprises. But sadly, 50 percent of twin pregnancies can’t make it past Week 37. With proper nutrition and weight gain, however, many doctors and clinicians believe we can cut that rate.
Research has shown that a woman of normal prepregnancy weight should gain about 46 pounds, putting on about half of that weight before Week 20. (Weight gain guidelines are less for overweight and obese women, however.) In doing so moms-to-be greatly increase their chances of delivering healthy, full-term babies.
So how do you pack on all those pounds? By concentrating on protein, the amino acid responsible for forming your babies’ tissues and bones, and for building a healthy placenta. According to Dr. Barbara Luke author of When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd Edition, moms expecting twins should shoot for about 3,500 calories and about 175 grams of protein a day. Many women won’t be able to keep eating that much throughout their pregnancies but Dr. Luke says to keep it up until at least Week 28.
If I’m pregnant with twins, what’s their survival rate?
Short answer: Pretty darn good and way better than it was just 20 years ago.
Yes, it’s true—the infant mortality rate for twins is about five times higher than it is for single-born babies. And, yes, a twin pregnancy does have a higher incidence of complications than a singleton pregnancy but you simply can’t (and shouldn’t) focus on these statistics something you have little power to change. Instead, turn your attention to something you do have control over, namely being meticulous about your diet and overall health. Not only should you concentrate on calories and protein but make sure you rest—fully reclined—on your left side at least once a day for a minimum of 20 minutes. (Many doctors believe that lying horizontal takes the stress off your cervix and improves blood flow and subsequent nutrients to the babies.) Furthermore, familiarize yourself with preterm warning signs and always call your doctor if you suspect that “something’s just not right.”
My wife is pregnant with twins. Is it safe to have sex with her?
Short answer: Yes, go for it!
Research suggests that if your wife is having a complication-free pregnancy engaging in sexual intercourse will not bring on preterm labor. But always speak to your doctor first before you turn on that soft music and light the candles!
When is it safe to tell people you’re pregnant with twins?
Short answer: Whenever you feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
With twins, you never know when they’ll show up so the only truly “safe” time would be when you deliver! But good luck keeping your twin pregnancy a secret for that long! You’ll begin to show by Week 10, so why not let everyone share in the excitement and tell them then?