Advertisement

What is a multiple gestational pregnancy?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

A multiple gestation pregnancy occurs when more than one fetus is present in a single pregnancy. A multiple gestation pregnancy results from the splitting of a single zygote or the presence of two or more zygotes. When a single zygote splits the offspring have identical genetic make-up, whereas when two or more zygotes are present the offspring each have a unique genetic make-up. The use of new reproductive technologies, especially in the treatment of infertility has increased the incidence of multiple gestation pregnancies.

Years ago, most twins came as a surprise. Now, thanks to advances in prenatal care, most women learn about a multiple pregnancy early. You might suspect you are pregnant with multiples if you have more severe body changes, including:

     • Rapid weight gain in the first trimester
     • Intense nausea and vomiting
     • Extreme breast tenderness

Your doctor can confirm whether you are carrying more than one baby through ultrasound. If you are pregnant with twins or other multiples, you will need to see your doctor more often than women who are carrying only one baby because your risk of complications is greater. Women carrying more than one baby are at higher risk of:

    • Preterm birth
    • Low birth weight
    • Preeclampsia
    • Gestational diabetes
    • Cesarean birth

More frequent prenatal visits help your doctor to monitor your and your babies' health. Your doctor will also tell you how much weight to gain, if you need to take extra vitamins, and how much activity is safe. With close monitoring, your babies will have the best chance of being born near term and at a healthy weight.

After delivery and once your babies come home, you may feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Ask for help from your partner, family, and friends. Volunteer help and support groups for parents of multiples also can ease the transition.

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

Continue Learning about Pregnancy, Fertility and Childbirth

Treating the 6 Worst Skin Problems During Pregnancy
Treating the 6 Worst Skin Problems During Pregnancy
Anyone who’s been pregnant knows that it’s one of the conundrums of pregnancy -- you have sudden changes to your skin (could be multiple, occasional, ...
Read More
Do You Know What Meds Are Safe to Take While Pregnant?
Do You Know What Meds Are Safe to Take While Pregnant?
Pregnancy—even in our high-tech era—still seems a bit magical. So it’s not surprising that there have always been some pretty far-out ideas about what...
Read More
Avoiding 21st Century Hazards While You’re Pregnant
Avoiding 21st Century Hazards While You’re Pregnant
"Can you hear me now?” “Can you hear me now? ”  When actor Paul Marcarelli uttered that phrase -- over, and over, and over again -- in a mobile phone ...
Read More
What is pregnancy?
Dr. Teneisha C. Davis, MDDr. Teneisha C. Davis, MD
Pregnancy is defined as the interval of time when an egg is fertilized to birth.  This process usual...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.