Pregnancy and childbirth are major events that will change your life forever. When you're dealing with multiples — hang on to your hats! — the life-changing effects are spectacular. I am the mother of twins, and this subject is dear to my heart.
Multiple pregnancies occur when more than one egg is released and fertilized, and more than one embryo implants and grows in utero. Fraternal twins, or triplets — or more — are conceived this way.
Multiple pregnancies also happen when one egg is fertilized, splits and creates multiple identical embryos. This is where identical twins, triplets, etc., come from. It's less common than fraternal conception.
Who Can Have a Multiple Pregnancy?
1) Those on fertility drugs to induce ovulation, sometimes can have their ovaries release more than one egg.
2) Women who've had a transfer of more than one embryo for in vitro fertilization may have a multiple pregnancy.
3) Women more than 35 years old have a greater chance of releasing more than one egg at a time.
4) If you've recently quit taking contraceptive pills, you're more likely to have multiples.
5) If multiples run in the maternal side of your family, you're more likely to have them too. If you've had fraternal multiples in the past, you're more likely than most to do it in the future.
The tendency toward fraternal multiples could be genetic. If you release more than one egg per cycle, you're more likely to have multiples, according to Nick Martin and Grant Montgomery, senior research fellows at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia.3
I hit two items out of five on the high-risk list. I hadn't taken fertility drugs or done in vitro. I was under age 35. But I'd just stopped taking the Pill, and as I found out after my twins were born, there'd been twins a couple of generations earlier on my mother's side.
My three daughters are more likely than average to have multiples, though none of them have — yet. My two sons would only be more likely to have multiples if they married women who have them in the family already.
I didn't know I was carrying twins.
1) Twins, Triplets, Multiple Births. Medlineplus.gov. Retrieved Oct. 7, 2016.
2) Multiple Pregnancy. ACOG.org. Retrieved Oct. 7, 2016.
3) Do genes influence whether someone has twins, either identical or fraternal? Scientificamerican.com. Retrieved Oct. 7, 2016.
4) Topic Overview. WebMD.com. Retrieved Oct. 7, 2016.