There is some higher level or risk in women, who are expecting twins or more babies at a time, though most of them end up delivering healthy babies and with minimum complications for themselves. But it is considered that the more babies a woman is carrying, the higher her risk for possible complications is. The risk or premature delivery, which increases babies’ chances of health problems, also becomes greater.
What are the chances of babies’ premature arrival?
It has been discovered, that as a rule about 60% of twins and more than 90% of triplets arrive prematurely, or before the 37th week; the twins pregnancy usually lasts about 35 weeks, while pregnancy with triplets usually ends by the 33rd week, and quadruplets’ pregnancy lasts no longer than 29 weeks.
What are the risks or premature birth?
Premature delivery is called the delivery of a baby or babies before the 37th week of pregnancy. As a rule those babies, who arrive before their natural time are not ready for the outside world, as most of their systems and organs, like lungs, brain, etc are not developed completely, they immune system is not able to fight most infections yet, and these babies can not even swallow and suck.
It is clear, that the earlier a baby arrives, the greater is the risk. Premature delivery, which occurs between 34 and 37 weeks usually lets the babies do well enough. And even babies, born before the 28th week may survive, but they need intensive medical care and some luck.
What are other potential complications of having twins, triplets, or more babies?
Besides the risk of arrive before their natural term, there are several more problems, concerning pregnancies with twins, triplets, etc.
Twins, triplets, etc usually do not gain their healthy weight before they arrive. Considering the average weight of a single healthy baby to be somewhere around 7 pounds, twins usually arrive with the weight of no more than 5.5 pounds, each of triplets may even weigh no more than 4 pounds, and quadruplets usually do not gain more than 3 pounds each. Any baby, who weighs less than 5.5 pounds by the moment of his arrival is considered to have a low birth rate.
And all babies, arriving with low birth rate, even if they are not born prematurely, are likely to have health problems, like troubles with breathing on their own, not resisting to infections, inability to control their body temperature or put on weight.
Preeclampsia is a disorder, which is characterized by high blood pressure and much or protein in the urine. This phenomenon develops in about 10 – 15% of women, expecting more than one baby at a time, twice the rate of women, who carry one baby. in case of a severe preeclampsia, many organs can be affected, and there may even life – threatening problems.
Gestational diabetes is also the more common health complication in women, carrying more than one babies at a time. In case if your doctor found this kind of problem, it is extremely important to keep to severe diet and have insulin shots, if necessary in order to avoid serious consequences for you and your babies as well.
Placental abruption occurs, if the placenta gets detached from the wall of the uterus before delivery. It can happen any time, beginning with the second half of pregnancy, and it can also lead to premature delivery or even stillbirth.
It is also not an uncommon phenomenon, when the placenta detaches right after the first baby has been delivered vaginally. In this case, the second baby arrives with the help of cesarean section.
Twin – to – twin transfusion syndrome is quite a rare (about 15%), but extremely serious complication, which occurs in identical twins, when blood flows from one fetus to the second through their shared placenta. The only way to treat this complication is to drain amniotic fluid from the sack of the baby, who receives extra blood, though the chance of both babies’ survival this kind of treatment is about 60%, two to three times higher than without any treatment conducting.
Does a woman need to be put on bedrest?
The very term “bedrest” has a variety of meaning, beginning from mere curtailing your activities in some way to literary not getting out of bed. If there is any health complication or if there is much risk of premature delivery, your doctor may put you on bed rest. Though there is no proof that bed rest prevents premature delivery, it can improve babies’ birth weight. So, even if your pregnancy is going smoothly, without any evident complications, but your doctor or midwife recommend you to take it, you should better follow their advice.
What are the chances that a woman will lose one or more of her babies?
Any women, expecting twins has a risk of a miscarriage of one of her babies yet in early terms, while the second baby stays in place. This kind of situation occurs in 20% of all twin pregnancies, and it is called the “vanishing twin”. In case if a woman carries three babies at a time, the risk to lose one or more of them during the first half of pregnancy becomes somewhat higher, about 40%. When one of the babies gets vanished even yet before the first ultrasound, a woman may not even be aware of her multiple pregnancies, and the only symptom of her miscarriage will be some vaginal bleeding, while all the remaining babies will go on developing normally.
Stillbirth occurs when a baby gets lost after the 20th week of pregnancy. This phenomenon is a little bit more common in pregnancies with twins, triplets and more babies, but it is still considered to happen rarely. Only 1 to 2% of twins, triplets and more babies are stillborn, compared with about 0.5% of singletons.
There are also cases, in which babies are lost at the very end of pregnancy, and they are delivered together with the baby/babies, who survive. Rarely, but still possible, that a stillborn baby/babies is/are delivered several weeks before the survival one/ones.
In case if you are expecting monozygotic twins or triplets, who share one placenta, the loss on one of them after the 20th week of pregnancy can be dangerous to the surviving of the rest of the babies. In the case of dizygotic twins, the rest of the babies have a good chance to survive and develop normally.
What can be done in order to reduce the risk?
The best protection will be your getting aware of your pregnancy with two or more babies at a time as early as possible, though many health complications do not depend either on your lifestyle or your behaviour. However, the earlier you will get to know about your developing twins, triplets, etc, the more time your doctor will have to catch and treat any possible health problem.
It is also important to be aware of the most widespread risks and complications of multiple pregnancies, however, do not get too much involved in any negative information. You should also know all the premature delivery signs. It is extremely necessary for all of you to be well-nourished and well hydrated, and, finally, you are never to miss any prenatal appointment and make sure to follow all your doctor’s instructions.