Q&A: What can I do to improve my chances of having twins?
I would like to have twins and was wondering if there were anything that I could do to increase my chance of a twin pregnancy. Can you give me any ideas?
I hate to say it but this is one of those questions that drives me crazy! I can understand the allure of having twins—from “getting it all over with at once” to just experiencing something really special, but twin pregnancies are substantially higher risk than singletons. And higher order multiples—triplets or more—may come with even greater dangers. Preterm birth, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and hyperemesis are just four of the complications more common with multiples. The chance of birth defects is greater too. So be careful what you wish for!
The only clearly proven intervention that increases the chance of multiple pregnancy is the use of fertility drugs and assisted reproductive techniques. But because of the increased pregnancy risks associated with twins and greater, multiple pregnancies are starting to be considered a relative failure (or at least a negative consequence) of assisted reproductive technologies. The best programs now tout their singleton rate, and many in-vitro programs with good statistics are limiting the number of embryos they recommend implanting, to try to avoid the risks of multiple birth.
You may wonder why I am emphasizing risk when you know so many healthy pairs of twins. The problem with the concept of risk is that it depends on odds. So while a singleton pregnancy may have a 10 percent chance of coming a little early, a twin pregnancy has about a 50 percent chance. And while a singleton has a one or 2 percent chance of coming extremely early (requiring newborn intensive care) a twin has about a 10 percent chance. With these odds, most twins do well, but the chance of serious problems is vastly greater than with a normal healthy singleton gestation.