Mercede Sebghati , Asma Khalil
The incidence of multiple births has risen in the last few decades. This rise is mainly due to the widespread use of assisted reproduction techniques mainly because of increasing maternal age at conception. Twin and higher-order multiple pregnancies are associated with increased risk of perinatal, as well as maternal, mortality and morbidity compared to singleton pregnancies. There can also be psychosocial and socioeconomic implications for women and their families.
Multiple birth pregnancies occur when more than one foetus is carried in a single pregnancy. They are more likely to result in the babies being born premature than those from single pregnancies. It is estimated that half of all twins are born prior to 37 weeks. Multiple births more than twins have even a higher chance of being born prior to 36 weeks. Twins and other multiple births are often induced early if labour is not spontaneous.
One possible pregnancy complication in multiple births is whether they share the same placenta or have a separate one, they are at higher risk of complications if they share a placenta The current recommendation is for all twins sharing the placenta (Monochorionic twins) to be delivered at 36 weeks and all twins with their own placentae (Dichorionic twins) to be delivered at 37 weeks.
Growth of babies in case of multiple births is often lower than in singletons and there are separate twin growth charts used to project birth weights. These babies face a higher chance of suffering from complications which can result in long term medical conditions.
Studies also suggest that twins born through IVF have a greater tendency to prematurity than those that are conceived naturally.
Women with multiple births are more likely to develop high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia which can increase the chance of early detachment of the placenta.
Once parents find out they are having multiple pregnancies they need to start planning for making the birth as safe and ideal as possible. The safety and health of both mum and babies is a priority. You should have good access to obstetric care and a hospital that has a NICU. Being monitored closely during pregnancy and being actively involved in the decision on how the babies will be born is very important.
Australian Multiple Births Association (AMBA)
COPE – Centre for Perinatal Excellence
Through the Unexpected – Perinatal Diagnosis
Panda - Perinatal Mental Health