Since finding out that we are expecting identical twins I have suddenly been thrown into a world I was previously unaware of. There are so many factors as to whether or not you will have twins naturally and I’ve read a lot of information and statistics about multiple pregnancies since I started researching it myself. I discovered that a lot of what I thought to be true about conceiving twins was in fact a myth and it’s interesting to learn that there are still unknown elements about the conception of twins.
Statistically, the amount of multiple pregnancies in the UK has risen in the last few decades and it is now thought that 1 in 80 births result in multiples being conceived naturally. One of the first things people asked me was if twins run in our family; they don’t and I always assumed that that having twins as relatives increased your chances of conceiving them yourself. This is even more so if they skip a generation. Interestingly, while non-identical twins run in families (on the Mother’s side) there is no known cause for identical twins; they seem to just be the luck of the draw. There has also been no evidence to prove that the chances are higher if you skip a generation of twins. It seems that the chances of conceiving non-identical twins increases with older women who are tall and have a higher than average BMI. The chances also get greater the more pregnancies you have. While ethnicity doesn’t factor into the conception of identical twins, non-identical twins are more common in the black population. It is even thought that some women are genetically more likely to conceive twins as they release more than one egg during their menstrual cycle.
However, these factors aren’t likely to be something you have any control over, so is there anything in particular you can do that can raise your chances of having twins? Of course there are old wives tales out there, ranging from eating copious amounts sweet potato to the position you have sex in. I’m sure if you wanted to give them a try they wouldn’t hurt! As for me personally, I was 28 when I conceived our identical twins and it is my second pregnancy. I took folic acid for about three months before we conceived but I had only been off my birth control for two months. My BMI was just over 30 but I am not tall. I don’t take any extra vitamins or supplements but I am fit and well, a non-smoker, I walk regularly and my diet is probably around 80% vegetarian and dairy-free. Do any of these things make a difference? The truth is that I don’t know; as there is no known cause for identical twins, maybe not. But, do these things help with fertility and conception in general, absolutely! It definitely won’t harm your chances to have a healthy diet, cut down on alcohol and start taking folic acid.
As for preparing for having twins, I’m not going to lie – it is a daunting prospect. Some people think that if they are your first children it is easier as you don’t know what to expect (in other words you don’t know how difficult sleep deprivation is). Others think that if your twins are a second pregnancy it is better as you have already learnt about caring for a newborn. It can be an extra strain financially but I think that is true even with the first singleton pregnancy. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the extra risk factors during a multiple pregnancy. After finding out we were expecting twins we were incredibly happy. We then learnt ours are very rare, sharing a placenta and a sac which inevitably comes with added risks and they will be delivered early to minimise the chances of something going wrong. Having said that it doesn’t change my opinion of twins; I feel that we are so very lucky to be having twins and I wouldn’t change a single thing even if I could. I can’t wait to become a ‘twin mother’ and add two little boys to our family.
Statistics and scientific information sourced from NHS.co.uk and Tamba.co.uk.