Women sometimes wonder if they are having twins especially if they have very early and noticeable pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting or there are twins in the family. They might also suspect they are having twins if they’ve had fertility treatment- especially if more than one embryo was transferred, or if certain fertility drugs were used to help to get pregnant.
Multiple pregnancies are becoming more common because they are linked to fertility treatments, which are becoming more frequent. The chance of a twin conception also increases with maternal age and the average age of mothers has been slowly increasing. The definite way to find out whether someone is having twins or other multiples is to have an ultrasound scan. The ideal time for the scan is at 10-12 weeks of the pregnancy. During the scan the sonographer can say for sure how many babies, placentas and amniotic sacs there are.
The placenta is an organ attached to the lining of your womb (uterus) during pregnancy. It is connected to the baby by the umbilical cord. From there, the umbilical cord carries the oxygen and nutrients to your unborn baby. The amniotic sac is a bag of fluid inside the womb where the unborn baby develops and grows. Depending on the number of placentas and amniotic sacs the sonographer can tell whether they share a placenta or not and therefore what type of twins they are. This information also helps the sonographer to recommend the right antenatal care and refer to the relevant healthcare professionals.
A multiple pregnancy can be more complicated than a singleton pregnancy and women will receive specialist antenatal care, rather than midwife-led only care. This means women will have a higher level of care with more appointments and tests during their pregnancy. Antenatal appointments are specialist checks by an Obstetrician, where can they can pick up any complications, scan the pregnancy at regular intervals and provide a great opportunity to get information about twin labour, birth and early parenting.
If you had fertility treatment or just suspect you might be carrying twins an early pregnancy scan is a reliable way to answer your question. Booking an early scan can be useful to determine whether you are having twins or not, however before the recommended weeks of gestation it can be difficult to be sure what type of twins you are having.
Beata Anderson, Advanced Practitioner Sonographer