Am I having twins?
There are some symptoms that may suggest you’re having more than 1 baby. These include the following.
Twins run in your family
Although identical twins do not run in families, non-identical twins run on the mother’s side of the family.
Your bump is bigger than expected
Baby bumps come in all different shapes and sizes. But if your bump seems big during the first 12 weeks, you may be carrying more than 1 baby.
You’ve had fertility treatment
You are more likely to carry multiple babies if you got pregnant using IVF.
You are an older mum
Women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to get pregnant with twins because they are more likely to release more than 1 egg during ovulation.
You have severe morning sickness
Not all pregnant women have morning sickness. But if you are carrying more than one baby, morning sickness can be severe. It may last longer than average (past the first trimester).
When will I find out if I’m having a multiple pregnancy?
It’s usually possible to find out for certain if you’re having twins at your first ultrasound scan. This is done as part of your routine antenatal care at around 8 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
As your multiple pregnancy progresses
Everyone is different, but you may have stronger pregnancy symptoms if you are having a multiple pregnancy. This is because of the increase in pregnancy hormones. For example, you may have persistent heartburn and indigestion. You may also have increased tenderness in the breasts.
As your pregnancy progresses, the increased pressure from your womb onto your tummy may cause swelling in your ankles and varicose veins to develop in the legs and vulva (the external female sex organs).
You may also have shortness of breath, backache, pelvic pain and exhaustion as your body is coping with the demands of carrying a heavier load. Talk to your midwife if this is happening for you. They may be able to refer you to a physiotherapist.
If you are carrying more than 1 baby, you are at higher risk of developing anaemia than women with single pregnancies. Your midwife will give you the same advice that women with single pregnancies have about having a healthy, balanced diet and what vitamins (supplements) to take during pregnancy. But you can prevent and treat anaemia by making sure that you are eating iron and folate-rich foods, as well as take daily folic acid supplements.
You will have a blood test to check for anaemia at your booking appointment, at 20-24 weeks and at 28 weeks of pregnancy. But it may be helpful to familiarise yourself with anaemia symptoms and tell your GP or midwife at any time if you think you have it.
How you feel about having twins or triplets
Some women and couples may be very excited to find out they are having twins or triplets. Others may be shocked or feel anxious about what this means for them.
It’s natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed. Most women who are pregnant with twins deliver healthy babies, but carrying more than 1 baby can increase the health risks for the mother and baby.
You may also be a bit worried about how you’ll cope physically, mentally and financially with 2 or more children. It may be reassuring to know that you will have extra antenatal care from a specialist team or doctors and midwives that are expert in managing twin and triplet pregnancies. This team will do everything they can to keep you and your babies comfortable, safe and well during pregnancy and birth.
This team may also include support from a mental health professional, a women’s health physiotherapist, an infant feeding specialist and a dietitian. This team should be able to give you all the advice you need about:
- antenatal and postnatal mental health and wellbeing
- nutrition in pregnancy
- the potential complications associated with multiple births
- your birth choices
- feeding your baby
The advice for keeping healthy in pregnancy is similar whether you're expecting twins, triplets or just 1 baby. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing gentle exercise and drinking lots of fluid will help. It's also important to attend all your antenatal appointments so your maternity team can keep a close eye on you and your babies.
More support and information
Talk to your midwife if you have any concerns. They will help make sure you are getting the support you need. You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at [email protected].
The Twins Trust provides lots of information and support for parents and parents-to-be of multiples. They also run antenatal courses and webinars about multiple pregnancies.
NHS Choices. Pregnant with twins https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/what-causes-twins/ (Page last reviewed: 21/05/2019 Next review due: 21/05/2022)
Macdonald, S and Johnson G (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery, Elsevier, London
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2019) Multiple Pregnancy: Frequently asked questions https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/faq188.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20200131T1226226057
NICE (2019). Twin and triplet pregnancy. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng137