When you are pregnant you hear all kinds of crazy myths, old wives’ tales, and horror stories. If you are pregnant with twins, chances are you will be told even more crazy myths and beliefs. Things like there is always a good twin and a bad twin or twins have telepathy. While you may find that you sometimes refer to one of your twins as “the good one” or you may think they are communicating to each other with their minds, parents of kids who are not multiples say the same things. If you have ever been curious about some of the things people say about twin pregnancy, here are 10 myths busted once and for all.
1. Twins skip a generation
You have probably heard the long-standing belief that twin pregnancy skips a generation. While this may happen on occasion, it is entirely by luck and not because of any sort of actual genetic or scientific component to it. This is just one of those beliefs that started at some point, probably because this was happening in enough families that people decided it was a scientific fact, and has continued to be passed on and believed.
2. Identical twins run in families
This may be the most shocking twin pregnancy myth to bust because most people assume any type of twins are (or can be) genetically linked. Identical twins do not run in families, and all pregnant women have the same odds of having them. Who knew?! That is because identical twins happen when one egg is fertilized and then splits in two. There is no known cause for this. Every woman has the same chance of having an identical twin pregnancy (about 1 in 250).
On the other hand, the genes for hyperovulation (releasing more than one egg per ovulation) which cause fraternal twin pregnancy are carried in the mother’s genes. This is passed down through the mother’s genes since only females ovulate. Just because there are fraternal twins in a woman’s family does not mean she will have twins, but there is a higher chance.
3. Identical twins have one placenta and fraternal twins have two
While it is common for fraternal twins to develop two placentas and identical twins to share one, this is not always the case. About a third of identical twins have two separate placentas and about half of fraternal twins share a placenta. Interestingly, when fraternal twins have one placenta it is usually because what started out as two separate placentas fused together into one. So the number of placentas does not necessarily indicate whether a twin pregnancy will result in identical or fraternal twins.
4. Twins that are boy/girl can be identical
Although a set of twins that is a boy and a girl can look pretty similar, especially in the baby and toddler stages, it is completely impossible for them to be identical. Since identical twins are conceived from one egg splitting into two, both babies have to be the same sex because they share all the genetic code that is in that one egg. Maybe it is just a habit to ask if twins are fraternal or identical but if they are boy/girl you now know the answer without having to ask.
5. Twin pregnancy always results in babies born early
It makes sense to believe that twin pregnancy would result in premature babies that are smaller than average since they are sharing the space that is typically taken up by one baby. The fact is that most twins are born in the same range of time and weight as a single baby. It is true that twin pregnancy has a slightly shorter expected gestation. Twins are considered full term at 38 weeks instead of 40 weeks. Most twins are born at 35+ weeks and weigh, on average, 5 and a half pounds. This is pretty on par with babies who are not born as a set of multiples.
6. Having a twin pregnancy means you will gain a ton of weight
This is not true at all. Doctors recommend that pregnant women gain between 25 to 35 pounds while pregnant with one baby and between 35 to 45 pounds with a twin pregnancy. Women pregnant with twins should gain about a pound and a half per week, which is just slightly above what women pregnant with one baby should gain.
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7. Twin pregnancy is full of complications
While there are possible complications that can come with a twin pregnancy, not every woman pregnant with twins will experience them. Just like some women who are pregnant with one baby experience lots of complications while others do not. The fact is that there is no reason to think that just because you are having twins that you will have a rough pregnancy.
The important thing is to learn about complications that can come with twin pregnancy and what you can do to prevent them. For instance, women pregnant with multiples are two to five times more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy. It often develops earlier and is more severe than in pregnancy with one baby. Anemia is also more common in a pregnancy with multiples than with a single baby. If you know these things then you can take steps to minimize your risk as much as possible.
8. Breastfeeding twins is too complicated
While some moms have a hard time producing milk, it has nothing to do with how many babies you have and is just the way your particular body was made. Juggling two babies may seem like a lot at first, but breastfeeding twins is possible and absolutely normal. Lots of moms to twins breastfeed their babies. It will take some practice and a schedule that works for you and your babies. Many twin moms feed both babies at the same time “tandem style” with one baby on each breast. The advantage is that both babies are fed in half the time of feeding them one at a time.
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9. You are destined for a cesarean section
It is true that a twin pregnancy has a high chance of ending with a cesarean section (or c-section) but around 40 percent of twins are delivered vaginally. That means the odds may be better than you expect to try for a vaginal delivery if you are pregnant with twins.
The birth options for twins depend on a number of factors and are dependent on your particular situation. If both babies are healthy and head down, the chances are high that you can have a normal vaginal delivery even with two babies to deliver. Sometimes the intent is to deliver both babies vaginally, but the second baby may shift during the birth of the first baby, causing the need to have a c-section in order to safely deliver your second baby. This happens about 25 percent of the time.
10. Twins are exactly alike
Although they may look the same, twins are like any other siblings. They may have a lot in common, but it is likely that they will also have just as many differences. Their personalities will be different – sometimes extremely different. They will even have different interests. Whether they are fraternal or identical twins, they will still be two separate people. You may even find it interesting that they do not look exactly alike. Even identical twins have differences in their appearance that you will notice more and more over time.
Even with twins being a pretty common event, twin pregnancy is still fascinating to most people. While there will always be myths and old wives’ tales about all pregnancies, there is something about twin pregnancy that makes people come up with and believe all sorts of things. But now, the next time you hear someone ask whether a set of boy/girl twins is identical or you hear someone say that twins skip a generation, you can smile and know the truth.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on What To Expect At Your First Pregnancy Ultrasound.
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