Multiple Births and Potential Complications

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The thoughts of having twins or triplets may sound fascinating to some families because it gives you the opportunity to have two or three or more babies with one delivery. Others entertain the thought because they just find them adorable and cute.  However, the truth is this – multiple births are not always that simple. Let’s share a few ideas about multiple births.

What are multiple birth(s)?

The term “multiple births” is explained as the delivery of twins and a higher – order of multiples (triplets, quadruplets, etc). They occur when multiple foetuses or babies are carried during a pregnancy.

There are two main types of multiple births. When more than one egg is fertilized and implants in the uterus this is called fraternal twinning. Fraternal multiples are simply siblings conceived at the same time. However, just as siblings often look alike, fraternal multiples may look very similar or otherwise and each has a separate placenta and amniotic sac.

On the other hand, when an egg is fertilized and then divides into two or more embryos, they are referred to as identical. Identical multiples are genetically identical, and usually look so much alike that even parents may have a hard time telling them apart. However, these children have different personalities and are usually distinct individuals. Identical multiples may have individual placentas and amniotic sacs, but most share a placenta with separate sacs. On rare occasions, however, identical twins share one placenta and a single amniotic sac.

Who can have multiples?

Having multiples is usually hereditary and family history increases one’s chances of having multiples. Experts believe women over 30 years and those who have had two or more pregnancies also have a greater chance of multiple conception.

Complications of multiple births

The Head of the Accra Fertility Centre at Medifem Multi-specialist Hospital and Fertility Centre, Dr. Henaku-Larbi in an interview stated that multiple pregnancies can have its downsides. He said “multiple pregnancies are more likely to have a higher rate of newborn deaths and mortality, stemming from the increased risk of premature babies, low birth weight, and other associated birth complications”.

One major complication found in multiple pregnancy is preterm labor or delivery (delivery before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). This is because; the length of gestation typically decreases with each additional baby. Higher order pregnancies are almost always preterm. It is important to know that most premature labor is a result of Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM). PPROM is the rupture of the membranes prior to the onset of labor in a woman who is less than 37 weeks of gestation.

Multiple births complications may also include Low Birth Weight. Low birth weight is almost always related to preterm delivery. Low birth weight is weight less than 5.5 pounds (2,500 grams). Babies with such low birth weights are at an increased risk for having long-term problems such as mental retardation, vision and hearing loss.

It is also quite likely that a multiple pregnancy would be delivered via Caesarean section although it is not so in some cases. Your doctor is likely to recommend a caesarean especially for the delivery of triplets and higher order multiples, but twins may be delivered vaginally.

If you are pregnant with multiples, do not fret. Make sure you attend antenatal care promptly and do not hesitate to rush to the hospital when you feel any unusual changes and discomforts. For now, here are some basic things you need to know when expecting multiples, as suggested by Dr. Henaku- Larbi.

  1. You may deliver prematurely
  2. You need to have a lot more rest
  3. The chances of miscarriages are higher in twin pregnancies. Go to the hospital immediately you start spotting or bleeding.
  4. All the symptoms of pregnancy are increased with multiple pregnancies.
  5. You need to take extra folic acid