In this post, I will share some of the most probable Twin pregnancy complications /risks and their impact on you and your twins. Knowing things ahead can help you to keep a check on your health and the development of the babies.
Disclaimer: This article should be purely considered for informational purpose only and not considered as actual medical advice. Always seek the direct guidance from your own medical practitioner for any treatment or diagnosis or any questions you may have related to any health condition. For more details see our disclaimer page.
9 Most common Twin Pregnancy Complications
Pregnancy always comes with some kind of risk. In many cases, we get through the pregnancy easily without much discomfort. However in few other cases, pregnancy posts huge threats to both the mother and the baby. Having said that, it’s no wonder twin pregnancy is often identified to be high risk pregnancy as there is two foetuses involved.
I am listing down some of the very common twin pregnancy complications and please do remember this is only for informational purpose. Having twins doesn’t mean you will get into all these risks. There are moms who had their twin pregnancy as smooth as any singleton pregnancy. It all depends on your health and the foetuses development.
So read through and keep yourself familiar about these twin pregnancy complications.
#1 Deficiency of Nutrients
Babies suck the needed vitamins and minerals from the mother. This can at times make the mother deficient to certain nutrients.
Taking necessary nutrients during pregnancy is more important, as this may not only affect the mother, but also the growth of the fetuses. To cope with the consistent need for nutrients, mothers should take a well balanced, healthy diet. Appointments with a qualified dietitian will also help you to tackle the nutritious demands.
As the nutrients you gain from your food may not be enough, doctors often prescribe supplements for Multivitamin, Iron, Calcium and Folic acid.
Pregnant mothers are more prone to be anaemic, specially mother of twins. With twin pregnancy, your iron levels tend to drop fast. So frequent checking of your HB(Hemoglobin) level as prescribed by your doctor, is more important.
If left untreated, anemia can affect the growth of the babies. It will even have an impact on the mother’s health resulting in complications during delivery and after birth.
Doctors prescribe Iron supplements (medicines /injections) in addition to which, you can make sure your diet comprises of more iron-rich food.
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#3 Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes will show up during pregnancy and will go off after delivery. It is one of the more common twin pregnancy complications. During your antenatal appointments, your doctor will prescribe for GTT (Glucose tolerance test) to determine if you have gestational diabetes.
On confirmation, your health adviser will prescribe you (medications or insulin) based on your sugar levels. With your doctor’s supervision, you can also consult a dietitian. You can plan your diet, without affecting the sugar levels and still make sure you get all the nutrients.
There is no point in following the method of restricting your food intake, to keep the sugar levels under control. Now you are pregnant and need to feed three. So consult with your doctor and dietitian and plan the course of diet.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy. It occurs mainly during the second trimester around 20 weeks. The symptoms may include high blood pressure and protein in urine.
Pre-eclampsia prevails more in women carrying twins than singleton mothers. This is due to the increased pressure in placenta as they carry two foetuses. Certain other factors also increase the chance of developing pre-eclampsia other than carrying twins. Some of them can be first pregnancy, age over 40, BMI over 35 and family history of pre-eclampsia.
Doctors will be continuously monitoring your blood pressure and prescribe urine tests to determine if you have pre-eclampsia. If you are diagnosed to have this condition, you should strictly stick to your doctor’s advise and never be lethargic.
In case if you are close to your due date and the babies are almost developed completely, doctors may advise for a c – section. If the babies are not yet ready to be delivered, you may be advised to take bed rest or be hospitalized, reduce salt intake and increase protein intake.
Even after delivery, mothers who had pre-eclampsia may be diagnosed with eclampsia. Eclampsia is a condition which will prevail for nearly six weeks. If this is not treated, it can affect the mother’s kidneys, liver or brain. So proper diagnosis and treatment is definitely needed.
#5 Cervical insufficiency
This is one of the most probable twin pregnancy complications. If a pregnant woman’s cervix widens and thins before she reaches full term, then it is called cervical insufficiency. This is more common with twin pregnancy, as the cervix can easily widen due to the mounting pressure in the uterus. This occurs in your second or third trimester and might often lead to preterm birth.
With earlier detection, we can suture and close an incompetent cervix. Doctors may advice for a complete bed rest with an elevated position of the lower part of the body in a tilted bed (the legs will be elevated above your head level).
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#6 Twin to Twin transfusion syndrome
Unlike other twin pregnancy complications, which can be seen in any twin moms, this condition occurs only with identical or mono-zygotic twins. The twins who will be sharing the placenta, have blood vessels connecting each other. When the blood flow through these blood vessels becomes unbalanced, TTTS occurs.
One twin will act as the donor and the other twin as the recipient. The donor twin will transfuse blood disproportionately to the recipient twin. As a result, the donor twin will not get enough blood. The recipient twin will be loaded with more blood.
This might cause the donor twin to become anemic with less urinary output causing decreased amniotic fluid. The recipient twin, on the other hand, will have more pressure on the heart and more urinary output resulting in more than average amniotic fluid.
This condition can happen to any mother and is not hereditary or not due to any other factors. There are several treatments available and the success of them depends on the severity of TTTS and the gestational age of the foetuses. Doctors may be able to save one or both the foetuses. For cases which cannot be treated, they may advice for terminating the pregnancy.
#7 Preterm Labor
Preterm labor is more likely of all the twin pregnancy complications, if you are carrying twins or multiples. 50% of the twin pregnancies end in a preterm labor, while 10% of the deliveries happen as early as 27-29 weeks.
Any of the above-mentioned complications or simply nothing foreseen to be abnormal may result in a preterm labor. You should prepare yourself to handle this situation, from very early days of your pregnancy. But stay calm, as this is very common.
If your twins are born preterm, they may have to be in the NICU (Neo-natal intensive care unit – ICU for new borns) for some weeks or months depending on their health conditions. Earlier they are born, higher might be the health concerns, as they wouldn’t have completed their normal growth.
Some may have breathing problems. The lungs are completely formed only around 35 weeks. So if the babies are born before this period, they may have respiratory issues.
Digestive issues are also more common with preterm labor. This is because earlier the baby received nutrients through the umbilical chord. But now the digestive systems are not functioning properly to facilitate the baby’s intake.
ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) is a condition of abnormal blood vessels in the eyes. This condition prevails in many premature babies. The growth of the blood vessels around the retina stops, when there is a preterm delivery. After this, blood vessels tend to stop growing or continue to grow irregularly. This if not noted within a month of birth, might lead to blindness or other vision problems. Proper laser treatments can fairly help in treating this condition.
#8 Down syndrome
Down syndrome refers to the children, who are born with an extra copy of chromosome 21.
This will cause delays in the way a child develops, both physically and mentally. No specific factors can define, whether your child will have a down syndrome or not. But mostly the risk increases with your age.
Screening tests are available to determine the severity of this condition in your babies with your blood sample. However, a screening test can only determine if there is a high or low risk of down syndrome. If determined with a high risk, you can then go for diagnostic tests which however has some likelihood of miscarriage.
Down syndrome is a chromosonal disorder. So we can only diagnose this condition. Yet no medication or procedure is available to treat this.
#9 Birth defects
Birth defects refer to the abnormal functioning or shape of one or more parts of the body at the time of birth of the babies. This like few other complications is believed to be more common in twins or multiples than singleton babies.
Birth defects can be something like dislocated hip, neural tube defects, shortened limb, congenital heart disease, abnormalities in brain, digestive system or liver. Often most of these defects are treatable.
Some of them can be detected through FAS (Fetal Anomaly scan) which the doctors might prescribe around 20 weeks of pregnancy. This scan mainly aims at having a close look at your uterus and the babies. It will help you to know whether your babies are growing normally.
Like, whether all the parts of their bodies are having the normal growth or whether any of your babies have a sixth finger or is there any problem with their digestive system etc. This will help you to detect any abnormalities earlier and plan for the treatment of those defects.
That’s it! I have registered many twin pregnancy complications and their viable impacts on your twins. As I informed earlier, this listing is just to uncover the various possible risks and make them familiar to you. If in case, your doctor talks about any of these twin pregnancy complications you will not be in surprise. Remember, you may not encounter even one of them.
Please don’t bother yourself and stay peaceful. Take good care throughout your pregnancy. You should be in peace and harmony for the well being of your twins. I wish you a happy, healthy and safe Twin Pregnancy!!
Four little arms to hold so tight, Four little cheeks to kiss good night
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