Curious about all things twins? I learned a lot about twins during my pregnancy. Here are 11 twin questions and facts about twins you probably didn’t know.
Shock. That was my reaction when I found out I was having twins. When I saw the two little embryos. The feeling I still harbored as the doctor began her measurements. And one I carried with me all the way home, waiting for the feeling to sink in. Then… my mind began to race. “Where do I even begin?”
11 twin questions and answers
I’ve gathered a ton of info and facts and answered many of the twin questions I had when I first learned I was expecting them. See which ones seem most interesting to you:
1. What do “mo/mo,” “mo/di” and “di/di” mean?
Di/di stands for dichorionic/diamniotic and describes a situation where each baby has his own placenta and his own sac. They’re completely separate and don’t touch one another. They also take in their nutrients from their own placentas. This is the lowest-risk type of twins. (This was the type of twins I had.)
Mo/di stands for monochorionic/diamniotic and describes twins in separate sacs but share the same placenta. They’re riskier than di/di twins, particularly for “twin to twin transfusion syndrome” (where one twin takes more of the placenta’s nutrients than the other).
Mo/mo stands for monochorionic/monoamniotic and describes twins who share both a placenta and a sac. This is the highest-risk type of twins (and the rarest). They’re at risk for cord entanglement (something that mo/di twins avoid) as well as TTTTS.
Since I had di/di twins, I didn’t discuss these risks with my doctor. But they’re the most common complications I learned from other moms who had mo/di and mo/mo twins. There may be more complications to look out for. This is where your doctor will help guide you through what those exactly are.
Because of the complications surrounding mo/mo and mo/di twins, these pregnancies deliver earlier than di/di twins. With my di/di pregnancy, the doctor said it’s possible for me to deliver at 38 weeks. (Which is the most I was allowed to carry the babies. I ended up delivering at 35.)
Both mo/mo and mo/di twins are almost always identical. The only difference is that mo/di twin cells separate into different sacs.
Di/di twins tend to be fraternal and can produce same-gendered twins (like mine) as well as boy/girl combinations.
Speaking of which…
2. What do fraternal and identical mean?
I crack up whenever someone asks me, “Are they fraternal or maternal?” Goes to show how little people know about twin DNA. Don’t worry, here’s the breakdown:
Identical twins began when one sperm fertilized one egg. Those cells then divided, which means that each twin has the same DNA as the other.
Fraternal twins began when two sperms fertilized two eggs. Some women, whether through genetics or older age, drop more than one egg each cycle (hence the two eggs).
Carrying fraternal twins is like having two siblings growing in the same uterus. For this reason, fraternal twins have different DNA, just as non-twin siblings do. Boy/girl combinations are always fraternal.
3. What is a “singleton”?
“Singleton” is the term twin moms call pregnancies or kids who are not multiples. I never even knew the term until I entered the world of twins.
4. How much weight do twin moms need to gain?
I was expected to gain between 37 to 51 pounds for a twin pregnancy. I barely scraped by at 35. And my doctor advised me to aim for 24 pounds by 24 weeks.
This formula came about because those first 24 weeks were crucial for the twins to gain that weight. It’s difficult to gain weight with how small our stomachs will get after that point.
This varies based on your needs and health, but in general, twin moms need to eat 600 extra calories. (Singleton moms eat 300 extra calories.)
5. How much sooner are twins born compared to singletons?
Over half of twin pregnancies will be born prematurely (earlier than 37 weeks). The average twin pregnancy delivers at 36 weeks*. And while full-term for a singleton baby is 40 weeks, twins are considered full-term at 38 weeks.
6. Do all twins need to stay in the NICU?
Even though my twins were born prematurely, we took them home with us. They passed the tests, from weight to eating to breathing to regulating their temperature. We went home with them after three days.
7. Can twins be born vaginally?
Yes—that’s how I delivered mine. Depending on your doctor, you might want to discuss the requirements for delivering vaginally.
My doctor listed a few, such as both babies needed to be head down and the first baby needed to be larger than the second. It also helped that my twins didn’t share a placenta, which would likely need a C-section.
Talk to you doctor, though. I know other moms who delivered vaginally even when the second baby was breech or sideways.
It’s still likely though that you’ll deliver in the operating room. The hospital has this practice just in case any complications happened. There would then be no need to wheel me from a private room to the operating room.
8. Who will be present during a twin delivery?
C-section or vaginal, your delivery room will likely be filled with doctors galore. With my singleton pregnancy only four people were with me (my mom, my husband, my doctor and a nurse).
But my twin pregnancy included about 16 people in the room. This included my doctor, a resident doctor, two nurses, an anesthesiologist, and a slew of NICU pediatricians for each baby.
9. How can I have a healthy twin pregnancy?
There’s no formula that will guarantee you against bed rest, pre-eclampsia, or other complications.
Still, best practices can help you improve your chances. One thing I would do all over again is my diet. I had a terrible first trimester, causing me to gain a measly two pounds those first two weeks.
Given that I had only a few more weeks to reach my goal of 24 pounds, I ate like a pig. I’m talking smoothies, burgers, spoonfuls of Nutella. Really gross unhealthy stuff. And while I gained the weight, I also brought on more complications and sluggishness.
So my advice is to stick to healthy food. It’s not easy eating all that food, so consider buying a juicer or making smoothies. You’re able to sidestep all that chewing by blending it up and downing it one easy to drink meal.
Or eat high-calorie healthy food, such as eggs, avocados and sweet potatoes. Fortify your smoothies with protein powder. Choose the right food.
I would also advise on getting tons of rest. Now isn’t the time to push yourself or bust out those maternity exercise tapes. Exercise should be light, if you even exercise at all. Lying down also prevents the weight from bearing down on your cervix.
It’s easy to assume that resting means you’re not doing anything. That’s far from the truth! As you rest, you’re devoting your energy to creating your babies. On the surface you’re not breaking a sweat but your body is just as consumed with being pregnant as if you were out and about.
10. How many twins are there compared to singletons?
According to Baby Center, twins now account for 3 of every 100 births in the United States.
This has risen in the last few decades by 76%, mostly because more women are using fertility drugs to become pregnant, which increases the chances of carrying more than one.
Also, women are waiting to have children and are therefore have bodies more likely to release more than one egg.
11. Is it normal to feel scared about having twins?
You may have a difficult time accepting the news about the twins. Maybe it wasn’t part of your “plans.” Your feelings are normal and you’re not alone.
Rest assured, you’re part of a select group of people now. I have an instant bond with other parents of twins (or even people who are twins). You’ll feel challenged, but you’ll also emerge so much prouder of yourself about all you can do.
From carrying twins to caring for them alone, these are the little wins that will make you stronger. So be kind to yourself. Your situation is unique. You can’t apply the same standards you may have had of parenting a singleton to twins.
This pregnancy is temporary. Whatever hardships come—especially in the newborn stage—will end.
You won’t shuffle your attention from one baby to the next once they can entertain themselves. They won’t always tandem feed. And you’ll carry one baby while the other one walks behind you instead of the fragile babies they once were.
If pep talks don’t work, one thing that always did was searching through online videos for cute twins. Now that my twins are over a year old, they do those cute things you see twins do.
The laughing at each other, the copying one another, and all the stuff that makes it so much fun. Watching these cute twins reminded me that they have their fun moments too.
Welcome to the world of twins!
Since becoming a twin mom, I’ve entered a world I previously could only glance at from the surface. I’ve learned a ton of facts about twins. Over a year in, and I’m so happy to be part of this community.
Raising twins is tough business. You’ll learn so many nuances you never knew about, and a whole new system of managing your kids.
But in time all the lingo will sound familiar. You’ll have figured out how to bathe both at the same time in the big tub, and the art of burping two babies. All these facts about twins will become second nature.
Yes, you’ll get double the love and double the blessings. And all the other well-meaning platitudes that in the end, are absolutely true.
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Get more tips about twins:
- How to Avoid Excluding Your Non-Twin Child
- Surprising Costs of Raising Twins You Never Knew
- How to Handle Twins after a Singleton
- Just Found Out You’re Having Twins? Here’s What You Have to Do:
- How to Sleep Train Twins: The Ultimate Guide
Your turn: Do you have additional twin questions? What were interesting facts about twins you learned? Let me know in the comments!