Curious about all things twins? I learned a lot about twins during my pregnancy. Here are 11 interesting facts about twins you probably didn’t know.
Shock. That was my reaction when I found out I was having twins. The feeling I still harbored as the doctor began her measurements and when I saw the two little embryos. 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?
I felt terrified. I was scared of how my body would handle two babies and all the complications I’d face, and wondered how I’d care for twins on top of my three-year-old. And I dreaded the extreme sleep deprivation—as if one baby wasn’t tiring enough, I’d now have two to deal with.
Going through a twin pregnancy without a clue on what to do is a challenge. You may not know anyone who had twins to turn to or learn from. You scour the internet looking for bits of information but can’t seem to find one place that talks about those early weeks. And you feel overwhelmed and alone.
11 twin facts about twins
Despite the shock, one thing was for sure: I learned several interesting facts about twins I never would’ve known otherwise.
I discovered that there are different types of twins, and how we even have twins in the first place. The many differences between a twin pregnancy and a singleton one. And I never even knew what a “singleton” was until I became a twin mom.
It seems I’m not alone in discovering interesting facts about twins. After reading the article below, fellow twin parent Andrea C. wrote:
“Accurate 💯 I loved this article as I love all of your articles. I have twins too and it’s tough, but they are amazing! ❤️💙”
Whether you’re expecting twins or are curious about them, below are several interesting facts about twins you might not have known. See which ones are new to you:
1. What do “mo/mo,” “mo/di” and “di/di” mean?
One of the first interesting facts about twins I discovered was that there are different types, depending on how they were formed in the womb. And these types affect the length and even risk of your pregnancy.
Di/di stands for dichorionic/diamniotic where each baby has his own placenta and sac. They’re completely separate and don’t touch one another in the womb. Having their own placentas mean they take in their nutrients separately. 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 TTTTS, or “twin to twin transfusion syndrome.” This is when 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 need to discuss certain risks with my doctor. But these are 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 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 was 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 weeks, 6 days.)
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2. What do fraternal and identical mean?
I chuckle whenever someone asks me, “Are they fraternal or maternal?” For what it’s worth, there are no “maternal” twins, but there are identical ones. Here’s the breakdown between fraternal and identical:
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. Both mo/mo and mo/di twins are almost always identical. The only difference is that mo/di twin cells separate into different sacs.
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). Di/di twins tend to be fraternal and can produce same-gendered twins (like mine) as well as boy/girl combinations.
Carrying fraternal twins is like having two siblings growing in the same womb. For this reason, fraternal twins have different DNA, like non-twin siblings do. Boy/girl combinations are always fraternal.
3. What is a “singleton”?
I never even knew the term “singleton” until I entered the world of twins. It’s simply a word to describe non-multiples.
For instance, my eldest is a “singleton,” while his brothers are twins. I know many singleton moms, but few twin moms. And I had a singleton pregnancy first and a twin one next.
4. How much weight do twin moms need to gain?
Twin moms are usually expected to gain more weight than they normally would with a singleton pregnancy. Personally, I was expected to gain between 37 to 51 pounds throughout the twin pregnancy (I barely scraped by at 35).
My doctor also advised me to aim for 24 pounds by 24 weeks, which can be difficult if you can’t stomach much during the first trimester. (For instance, I gained a measly two pounds those first 13 weeks).
This general rule of thumb came about because those first 24 weeks are crucial for the twins to gain that weight. It’s also more difficult to gain weight considering how small our stomachs will get after that point.
Weight recommendations will vary based on specific needs and health, but in general, twin moms need to eat 600 extra calories a day. (Singleton moms tend to eat 300 extra calories.)
5. How much sooner are twins born compared to singletons?
Because of extra risks and the simple lack of space, twins tend to be born earlier than singleton babies. In fact, over half of twin pregnancies are born prematurely (earlier than 37 weeks), and the average twin pregnancy delivers at 36 weeks.
And even if you make it past those milestones, most doctors will want to deliver no later than 38 weeks (compared to 40 weeks for singleton babies).
You can see why. My doctor told me that a twin mom at 32 weeks is already the same size as a singleton mom at 40 weeks.
6. Do all twins need to stay in the NICU?
No, not all twins need to stay in the NICU.
Even though my twins were born prematurely, we were able to 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.
That said, because they’re smaller and shared the womb, they tend to need a bit of help after they’re born. Also, higher-risk mo/mo twins will likely spend time in the NICU, especially since their average delivery is 30 weeks.
7. Can twins be born vaginally?
Sometimes—that’s how I delivered mine. Discuss with your doctor the requirements for delivering vaginally.
My doctor listed a few of hers, including both babies needing to be head down, and that the first baby had to be larger than the second. It also helped that my twins didn’t share a placenta, which would likely have needed a C-section.
Talk to you doctor, since every case is different. For instance, I know other moms who delivered vaginally even when the second baby was breech or sideways.
Also note that mo/mo twins are hardly allowed to deliver vaginally, given the high likelihood of the cord getting tangled and knotted.
Regardless of how you deliver, it’s still likely that you’ll deliver in the operating room. Our hospital had this protocol in case any complications happened—there would be no need to wheel me from a private room to the operating room.
8. Who will be present during a twin delivery?
But my twin pregnancy included much more than that. As I say in my book, Expecting Twins:
“A twin delivery involves more people, regardless of how you deliver. My doctor gave me a heads up that there would be a ton of people, and she was right. If your delivery is anything like mine, it might include your doctor, a resident doctor, nurses, multiple NICU pediatric doctors (I had four for each baby), an anesthesiologist and your partner.
These folks will be working hard and fast to ensure a safe and healthy delivery for your twins. It’ll be a crowded room, but it’s nice to know you’re taken care of and are in good hands.”
9. How can I have a healthy twin pregnancy?
There’s no formula that will guarantee 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.
Given that I wasn’t exactly close to reaching my goal of 24 pounds by 24 weeks, I ate just about anything. I’m talking smoothies, burgers, spoonfuls of Nutella—really 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 always easy eating a lot of calories, 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.
Another option is to eat high-calorie, healthy food like eggs, avocados and sweet potatoes and to add protein powder to your smoothies.
I would also advise on getting tons of rest. Now isn’t the time to push yourself or bring 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, but 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?
This has risen in the last few decades by 76%. More women are using fertility drugs to become pregnant, which increases the chances of carrying more than one. Women are also waiting longer to have children and are more likely to release more than one egg.
11. Is it normal to feel scared about having twins?
You may be freaking out about the news of your twins because it wasn’t part of your “plans.” Rest assured, your feelings are normal and you’re not alone.
You’re part of a select group of people now. To this day, I still 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.
This pregnancy is also temporary. Whatever hardships come—especially in the newborn stage—will end.
You won’t always shuffle your attention from one baby to the next, especially once they can entertain themselves. They won’t always tandem feed. And you’ll someday carry one baby while the other one walks behind you.
If pep talks don’t work, one thing that always will is searching through online videos for cute twins and the heartwarming things they do. Laughing at and copying each other, and all the stuff that makes it so much fun. Watching these cute twins will remind that twin life has plenty of 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, 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.
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
- Preparing for Twins: A Checklist of Everything You Need to Do
- Signs That You’re in Labor with Twins
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and get your copy of the Twin Pregnancy Checklist! Download it below—at no cost to you: