Signs of Twin Pregnancy how do to know if you are Carrying Twins

Most women who have had both twin and singleton pregnancies agree that there is a difference between the two. Just as for singleton pregnancies, however, every twin pregnancy is different and so, of course, are its signs or symptoms.

The earliest sign of a twin pregnancy is often a magnification of normal early pregnancy symptoms, such as:

– More severe morning sickness and increased breast enlargement

– More significant, and faster, weight gain. A woman who is pregnant with twins may gain up to 10 lbs in the first trimester and 25 lbs by the end of the second trimester, compared to an average weight gain of 10 to 15 lbs for singleton pregnancies. This additional weight gain is the result of increased uterus size and additional blood volume involved in multiple pregnancies.

– Women who are pregnant with twins often experience more rapid growth of uterus size. However, factors other than twin pregnancy may also cause unusually rapid uterus size growth. Uterine fibroids, excessive amniotic fluid or a miscalculated conception date are some examples. The uterus of some women who have been pregnant before may also grow at a rapid rate because it (and the ligaments surrounding it) have been distended by the previous pregnancy(s).

– Excessive fatigue, more pronounced shortness of breath, heartburn etc are additional common signs of twin pregnancy that result from the extra pressure exerted by the heavy uterus on the mother’s organs.

– Mothers who are carrying twins often feel their babies move earlier, and earlier fetal movement may indeed be an early indication of twin pregnancy. Again, however, many women report earlier fetal movement in subsequent pregnancies – regardless of whether they are twin pregnancies or not.

– Since most women are not aware that they are carrying twins before they are at least six or 7 weeks pregnant, they often do not eat enough to nurture multiple babies. The result is that they experience unusual (and constant) hunger, another possible early sign of twin pregnancy. Healthcare providers recommend that a pregnant mother add about 300 calories per day and per baby to her diet.

– More pronounced mood swings due to increased hormone production could be another sign of twin pregnancy, and many women report increased water retention as well.

In addition to the early signs of twin pregnancy listed above (which are much easier to detect with hindsight!), specific, measurable signs that could indicate a twin pregnancy are:

Fetal Heartbeat Count
A fetus’s heartbeat is distinguishable late in the first trimester of pregnancy(between 10 and 12 weeks). In a twin pregnancy, more than one fetal heartbeat will be detected. A Doppler system, which uses sound waves to amplify the baby’s heartbeat, is used. Sometimes, however, the sounds heard are misleading, and a mother’s heartbeat (or background noises) may be mistaken for a second fetal heartbeat. The babies’ position can also play a role in whether their heartbeats are heard, and it is possible for one baby’s heart count to be heard at several locations. If a Doppler detects two heart counts beating at different rates, then the pregnancy is definitely a twin pregnancy.

Elevated HCG
High HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels are another indicator of multiple pregnancy. The HCG hormone becomes present in a pregnant woman’s blood about 10 days after conception and HCG levels increase rapidly throughout the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Although a woman pregnant with twins may have higher HCG levels, high HCG alone is not a decisive indicator of a multiple pregnancy because the normal HCG level for twin pregnancies falls within the standard HCG level for singletons.

Abnormally High AFP Levels
AFP (Alpha-Fetoprotein) is a protein that is made by the liver of an unborn baby and is secreted into the mother’s blood. A woman carrying more than one fetus will have a higher amount AFP in her blood. AFP tests are administered at around the 16th week of pregnancy to detect certain fetal abnormalities. When a mother’s AFP levels are abnormally high, an ultrasound examination is usually done, and it will detect twin / multiple pregnancies. AFP testing is not routinely performed, however. When it is performed, it is usually in the second trimester of pregnancy. Furthermore, it is possible for the results to be interpreted erroneously if the correct age of the fetus is not known, because normal AFP levels vary according to the fetal age.

Ultrasound Examinations
Utrasounds, especially those performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, are the most reliable indicators of twin pregnancies. Although ultrasound exams may be done as early as 5 or 6 weeks after conception, twin pregnancies that are detected early (before 10 weeks) sometimes end up as singleton pregnancies. This is known as VTS (Vanishing Twin Syndrome), when one of the two fetuses aborts spontaneously. If VTS occurs in the 1st trimester of pregnancy, the mother will usually go on to have a normal singleton pregnancy. In a multiple pregnancy involving more than two fetuses, ultrasound examinations may not detect all the babies.

Finally, many women who have been pregnant before may simply ‘feel’ that they are carrying twins. More often than not, these feelings prove to be correct.