Could you be pregnant with twins? As if that positive pregnancy test couldn’t be exciting enough, you may begin to wonder whether you might have more than one baby growing inside. That first appointment, usually scheduled between six to eight weeks after your first missed period, can seem like an eternity! Are you pregnant with twins? What are the symptoms of a twin pregnancy?
When my at-home test confirmed my pregnancy, I never stopped to wonder whether I was pregnant with twins, even though fraternal twins run in my family and I was over 30 years old. It didn’t occur to me then that there are some great reasons to ponder this question! If you have been undergoing fertility treatments, perhaps you hope there is more than one. If you conceive twins spontaneously, you may have once romanticized the idea of having multiples. Who remembers the Quints dolls? I still remember the jingle for the commercial! “Quints, quints, five times more fun; I love taking care of each and every one!” Ah, yes, the brainwashing starts early.
What, then, are the symptoms of twin pregnancy? I’ve listed the most recognized signs of twin pregnancy below, but please keep in mind that each pregnancy is unique. You could be pregnant with a singleton and still feel some of these first few symptoms. You may also be pregnant with twins and not experience any of the first four signs. How do I know? Because an ultrasound was the only thing that confirmed my own twin pregnancy; none of the other symptoms applied to me. As such, consider this post a list of fun clues to ponder while you’re waiting to see your obstetrician and solve your pregnancy mystery.
1. Excessive Nausea
Experts suggest you will experience excessive nausea and vomiting because at least 50% of women expecting multiples report getting morning sickness. Women who are pregnant with a singleton are less likely to experience this type of illness; typically just 33% report having nausea. You can see from these numbers alone that the presence or absence of morning sickness is never an accurate way to tell how many babies you are carrying. It isn’t even an accurate way to tell if you are pregnant!
2. Larger than ‘Normal’ Belly
Research indicates that your belly (or more accurately, your uterus) will be larger than what is expected for the particular stage of pregnancy you are in. I find so many problems with this one. First, if you have never been pregnant before, how can you possibly know what your ‘normal’ looks like? No one carries a pregnancy the same way. Second, if you have already birthed a child, you may experience faster belly growth in a subsequent pregnancy. Third, you may not gain a lot of weight before your first ultrasound (see point 5 below). Similarly, depending on the kind of shape you are in when you become pregnant, weight gain and belly growth in the first trimester may be undetectable or nonexistent!
3. Feeling Movements Early in Pregnancy
Another symptom associated with twin pregnancy is the early detection of movements, like kicking. Unless you have had prior experience with what that sensation feels like, especially when the babies are still very small, I highly doubt you will feel much before your first medical examination. Of course, if you decide to ignore your missed period for a few months, then this may apply to you!
4. Elevated Reading During Blood Test
You are likely to be given an alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test just after your first trimester when it is most accurate; however, there are circumstances in which you would be tested earlier. When you are pregnant, the AFP test checks your blood for a substance produced in the liver of your baby. Results from this test can indicate a number of pregnancy outcomes.
A higher than normal reading for AFP in the blood is commonly associated with twin pregnancy. However, as I mentioned in the introduction, this did not apply to me. Due to a previous miscarriage, I was given an early AFP test to check for potential problems, but my test results were considered normal. Furthermore, because the AFP test is typically performed after week 12 of your pregnancy, you will probably experience an ultrasound before you receive an AFP test, which brings me to the last point in this list.
5. Detection Through Medical Examination
Nothing short of an ultrasound or other medical examination like a Doppler, which can detect multiple heartbeats, will confirm the number of babies you are expecting. We can thank modern technology for taking much of the mystery out of pregnancy, so it is a rare story now when you hear about a mother unexpectedly giving birth to multiples. Whether your ultrasound (or other examination) confirms you are having multiples or just one, I hope you will feel joy in learning that you have been given a chance to bring forth new life. Congratulations, mom!
PS – At the risk of losing credibility here, my personal ‘signs of a twin pregnancy list’ would include, “Craving Vinegar (And All Things Tart)“, “Extremely Dry (Couldn’t Wear Contacts) Eyes“, “Signs of Fate“, and “A Reading From a Consistently Accurate Psychic.” I found a great one in New York City! But that’s another story for another day. Or maybe one that should never be told.
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If you’ve wondered whether you could be pregnant with twins, I do hope this list will calm your nerves as you await your first visit to the obstetrician. Speaking of doctors, once you have confirmed a pregnancy with multiples, choosing the right doctor for your unique needs will be very important. I will be discussing that in a future post, so I hope you will come back for a visit.
Until then, please share your pregnancy stories below! Moms with singletons, did you ever think you were carrying twins? Moms of multiples, did you know you were having twins before the doctor told you? What symptoms did you experience?