When you are expecting twins or multiple babies, it is very essential to understand some potential complications which may be observed during twin or multiple pregnancies. A twin pregnancy is a double blessing, but it can also carry greater risks than being pregnant with a singleton. By knowing these risks you would be equipped better to take care of yourself emotionally and physically if you face any issues during your pregnancy. We are describing some major complications during a multiple or twin pregnancy. Some of them affect babies while others may not be good for mother’s health.
10 Potential Complications With Twin/Multiple Pregnancies
- Low birth weight: The twins almost always don’t have an opportunity to achieve the normal healthy weight before they’re born. While a normal single baby weighs more or less 3.5 kg during birth, the normal twin (even if born termly) weighs 2.5 kg or below. Babies conceived at under 2.5 kg are considered to have a low conception weight. Babies with low conception weights are prone to have health issues in spite of a termly birth.Low-birth-weight babies usually find difficulty in breathing their own. They may be in capable to fight infections. All these factors affect the baby or babies badly.
- Gestational diabetes: A woman pregnant with twins has about twice the chance of getting gestational diabetes as women carrying one baby. The good news is that gestational diabetes, though, can cause harm to mother and babies (still birth, shoulder dystocia, preterm birth are usually associated with gestational diabetes) yet,is very much treatable once detected. Though you will be monitored closely, and many women are able to keep the sugar levels controlled by diet and exercise, yet some may need to take insulin shots or pills as well.
- Premature Delivery /Preterm Labor: Chances of premature delivery is higher with twin pregnancy. Average rate for twin delivery is within 36 weeks. The more number of babies a woman carries, the higher are the chances of premature delivery. A premature delivery takes place as a result of preterm labor. Preterm labor happens when a pregnant woman experiences labor earlier than the normal gestation period, prior to 39 weeks. Many women with multiple pregnancies experience it but if it is addressed timely by a doctor, the situation can be controlled. Premature babies may have certain health problems but thanks to advanced technologies these days; they survive well and live a healthy life. If you are pregnant with twins it is better to mentally prepare for a preterm delivery and possibility of your preterm baby spent some time in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
- Increased risk of miscarriage: The risk of facing a miscarriage is higher for twin pregnancy when compared to the singletons. Also, monozygotic twins (identical twins) are more likely to miscarry than dizygotic twins (non-identical twins). Most of the miscarriages occur during the first trimester of pregnancy (around 36%). Of this, about 9% miscarriage ends in the loss of the both babies. Other 27% of miscarriage occur to only one baby of the twins and the second one will survive. This statistics evidently looks high. But don’t worry. Once you pass 20th week the risk of miscarriage will go down noticeably. 90% of mother will pass the pregnancy and deliver without any issues.
- Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS): TTTS is very serious complication but it is very rare. It is seen in 15% of cases of identical twins. This is a condition where identical twins share a placenta resulting in unequal flow of blood between them. Due to this one baby gets too much of blood and the other becomes anaemic because of lesser blood supply. The recipient twin’s blood volume increase and there will be increased chance to strain his heart and leads to heart failure. It is not good for babies but in such cases pregnancy is monitored carefully by the doctor with frequent ultrasound to avoid the risk.
- Monoamnionic Monochorionic (Mo-Mo) Twins: Very small percentage of twins gets affected by this condition where their umbilical cords become entangled preventing the flow of oxygen and other nutrients to their developing bodies. Unfortunately there is no treatment for it other than delivering the babies. Doctors monitor the mother carefully in such cases.
- Placental Abruption: If the placenta detaches itself from the uterine wall before the time of delivery, it can pose serious threats to baby’s growth resulting in still-birth, preterm delivery and other complications. Chances of placental abruption are higher in twin pregnancies. It can happen anytime after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it affects only 1% of pregnant women. In case of multiple pregnancies, abruption may occur just after the first baby has been delivered vaginally. Once abruption has occurred, the other baby or babies may have to be delivered by cesarean section.
- High Blood Pressure and Pre-eclampsia: If you are expecting twins the chances of high blood pressure are much higher than if you were expecting a single baby. Elevated blood pressure may also become one of the reasons for the condition called pre-eclampsia. Around 13% women with twin or multiple pregnancies experience this condition. Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, kidney or liver abnormalities. The chances of preeclampsia in twin pregnancies are three times more than in single pregnancies.
- Heart failure: It is concluded as results of one study that states that women with multiple or twin pregnancy are more likely to have the risk of heart failure. About 13% of women carrying two or more fetuses suffer from this danger.
- Obstetric cholestasis: One more complication is seen during twin or multiple pregnancies, knows as obstetric cholestasis – but which is very rare. Obstetric cholestasis is an uncommon pregnancy condition that affects the mother’s liver and makes her feel intensely itchy without any skin rash. The mothers carrying twins are more seen to develop this condition. This condition can cause a severe effect on the babies.
Apart from these potential complications, carrying twins or multiples also make you have a bad case of morning sickness, varicose veins and extra weight gain.
What Is Vanishing Twin Syndrome?
Vanishing twin syndrome is a phenomenon in which an early scan disclose a twin pregnancy but only one baby is seen in the subsequent scan.This happens when the woman conceived twins but one of them is lost as a result of an early miscarriage and get entirely reabsorbed by the mother, placenta or the remaining twin. The mother shows hardly any symptoms of miscarriage. Vanishing twin syndrome happens in 21% – 30% of multiple pregnancies. Sometimes the statistics are more than that of recorded. Because many of these early miscarriages are passed without discovering.
The double happiness on the way also means double the care now. Reach out to the doctor if you feel anything that is not quite right. Except for early labor, the chances of other complications are pretty low, so try not to worry a lot about possibilities and risks. Be assured and relaxed that your doctor will take all necessary steps for your and your kids’ well being. Most twins are born early, but healthy, so enjoy the pregnancy and await the double/multiple surprise!