Multiple Pregnancy

Multiple Pregnancy

Multiple births account for about one in every 80 confinements. A woman might not be aware of carrying twins for quite a period – it is possible that in a routine antenatal examination suspicion rises, or an ultrasound examination may reveal a multiple pregnancy. But she may quite well have suspicion herself from an early stage: all pregnancy symptoms are more pronounced in general. The effects of multiple pregnancy on the mother include earlier and more severe abdominal distension, difficulty in breathing, nausea, pressure in the pelvis, backache, varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Polyhydramnios* is also more common in multiple pregnancies. The diagnosis is confirmed by detecting heart sounds at different sites or by means of ultrasound techniques. Early diagnosis is important because premature labour is more likely to occur, and the mother-to-be will be advised to take more rest to reduce the risk.

The commonest multiple pregnancy is of course twins.

Twins may be uniovular or binovular. Uniovular twins, also called maternal or identical twins, develop from one fertilized egg which, shortly after fertilization, divides into two separate organisms. Uniovular twins posess identical chromosomes and therefore they are of the same sex and very similar in appearance.

Binovular twins develop from two separate eggs which have been fertilized by two individual sperm. They are also known as paternal or non-identical twins. They may be of the same sex or different sex and have different inherited characteristics. Pregnancy involving more than two foetuses has become commoner in recent years because of the use of fertility drugs by women who have found it difficult to conceive. The drugs may cause several eggs to be ovulated, and therefore fertilized, at one time.