The discovery of a twin pregnancy can bring on a whirlwind of emotions for a woman, ranging from excited to panic-stricken. Most doctors with twin pregnancy experience will advise their patient that a twin pregnancy carries a "high risk" label strictly due to the amount of possible complications that can arise. It is true, however, that every woman's chance at complications is related to her individual characteristics. For example, if a woman has a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or even premature births, her doctor will need to look out for these specific complications and advise her to avoid situations that will add to her chances experiencing them. Generally speaking, there are several aspects of a woman's habits and heredity that can affect the outcome of a multiple pregnancy.
A woman's age has been linked to the possibility of fraternal twins, with other factors such as heredity (a family history of fraternal twins) at play. A woman's chance of fraternal twins is increased between the ages of 35-39, while peaking at age 37. However, other risk factors associated with miscarriage are also more common at this age as well, including pre-eclampsia, diabetes, and birth defects/genetic abnormalities. It is worth noting that pregnancy complications are also prevalent in pregnant women under the age of 20 years old.
Women that are relatively tall and/or heavier than average tend to conceive fraternal twins more often. While their bodies are more suited to carrying two babies, shorter and lighter women are at risk for a greater strain on their bodies. Obese women, by contrast, are also at risk for pregnancy complications, and therefore must be in constant communication with their doctors.
Women who have already given birth are at an advantage here. The previous stretching of the uterus serves as a good preface to the demands of stretching for two babies.
Identical vs. Fraternal Twins
Identical twin pregnancies are also at a greater risk for complications. This may be because identical twin fetuses have the added risks associated with sharing a placenta, the shared wall of the amniotic sac, and the other twin pregnancy risks.
The pregnant woman's diet has a major role in keeping the pregnancy moving along. Because preterm labor and low birth weight are major obstacles in a twin pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association recommends that a woman pregnant with twins aims for a weight gain of at least 24 pounds by the 24th week to reduce the incidence of these factors. Weight gain and proper nutrition are also imperative to the development of the placenta, which delivers the nutrients to the babies.
Stress has been a known risk factor of pregnancies since modern medicine was only a future thought. Pregnant women must seek help for responsibilities whenever possible, and must realize that taking it easy is not a "when you can" task, but a "must do."