Twins are always considered a blessing and lately, they’ve been getting even more glorification, especially with celebs like Beyonce and Amal Clooney making recent headlines for the fact they are carrying twins.
But as with any celebration, there are those who will swoop in to offer a reality check. Like one Daily Mail columnist, Jill Foster, herself a mom, who wrote about how twin pregnancies are high risk and come with a boat load of additional concerns, cautions and care that mom (and dad) must undertake.
“Multiple births are fraught with risk, no matter how rich you are,” Foster writes in a recent column. “Carrying my twin girls was the most arduous and terrifying thing I’ve done — and the professionals agree with me.”
She quotes consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Shazia Malik, a sub-specialist in reproductive medicine at London’s Portland Hospital, who said that “people underestimate the risks of a multiple pregnancy.”
There is a risk “of miscarriage, stillbirth or pre-term birth is around five times higher than a singleton pregnancy. Once premature babies are born, they may spend several weeks or even months in Special Care and may have growth restriction, brain damage, problems with vision and later have developmental delay,” Malik said.
She adds: “There’s a higher risk to the mother, too, of developing gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, which could lead to death.”
Foster says her identical twin daughters were conceived without medical intervention but that she went thru her pregnancy in fear because her twins developed in the same sac, increasing the chances of dual death were something to go wrong.
“At 11 weeks’ pregnant, I’d learned that the babies were growing in the same amniotic sac. Called a mono-amniotic pregnancy, it meant their umbilical cords could easily become entwined and strangulated.
“Not even one baby would survive if this happened. They would live or die together, and death would be sudden or spontaneous. I lived my pregnancy on a knife edge. It seemed sensible to only tell my closest family and friends.”
She also thinks she suffered post partum depression which is common among moms of multiples.
According to the Twins and Multiple Birth Association (TAMBA), mothers of multiples have almost twice the average risk of postnatal depression and it tends to last longer and can still require treatment up to seven years after the birth.
Then there are the myths of twin pregnancies. In a new book Twin Mythconceptions: False Beliefs, Fables, and Facts about Twins, Dr. Nancy L. Segal attempts to bust over 70 myths regarding twin pregnancies.
Here are some of the top 10 Myths, (many of which we have blogged about before here on Bellyitch), Dr. Segal has identified:
the “Top 10” myths or beliefs about twins, which include:
- Identical twins can communicate by extrasensory perception or ESP (False)
o There is no scientific evidence that twins exchange thoughts or ideas by reading each other’s minds—identical twins’ social closeness is better explained by studies showing that their common genes underlie their within-pair communication skills.
- Older mothers are more likely to conceive fraternal twins than younger mothers (True)
o Since releasing two eggs at the same time is not typical, this is possibly a reflection of the aging process.
- Identical twins have identical fingerprints (False)
o These features, which develop between the 10th and 25th gestational week, are affected by factors such as temperature, intrauterine position and density of amniotic fluid near the fingers.
- Your consumption of yams and other dietary choices increase the chances of conceiving fraternal twins (True)
o It is thought that the white yam contains fertility-inducing properties that trick the female body into releasing hormones that promote ovulation–this may partly explain the high fraternal twinning rate among the Yorùbá of western Nigeria.
Dr. Segal is currently Professor of Psychology at California State University, Fullerton and Director of the Twin Studies Center. She has authored more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters, as well as four highly acclaimed books on twins.
The moral of the story is celebrate twin births. Admire them. Dote on moms carrying twins. Offer help and support to family and friends who deliver twins, especially afterwards, given the higher PPD risk. But certainly, be very aware that they are risky pregnancies and deserve extra care and consideration before venturing into IVF in hopes of carrying them if you cannot conceive a set without medical intervention. Don’t let these celebrities out here lull you into a fairy tale la la land.