Predicting Twins

Pregnancy is a wondrous and exciting time, full of new experiences and wonderful surprises. One of the biggest surprises that some moms go through is the discovery that they are going to have twins (or more!) There are several things that can indicate a twin or multiple pregnancy.

The best and most reliable way to confirm a twin or multiple pregnancy is to see it with an ultrasound. An ultrasound is the only guaranteed way to know whether you’re carring more than one baby. An ultrasound may be able to detect multiple embryos as early as your third week of pregnancy; However, the ultrasound will be most reliable at detecting a multiple or twin pregnancy at around 6 to 8 weeks.

While an ultrasound is the best method for detecting twins, there are other symptoms that can, in the absence of an ultrasound, suggest twins. They include:

  • Doppler Heartbeat Count. A Doppler system amplifies fetal heartbeat sounds, which can be distinguished late in your first trimester. An experienced health care provider may be able to recognize the sound of a second heartbeat. However, the sounds can sometimes be misleading, as the second beat could be caused by background noise or the mother’s heart.
  • Elevated hCG levels. While twin and multiple pregnancies do produce higher than average hCG levels, these levels are not out of range of a singleton pregnancy.
  • AFP test results. An AFP test is used during the second trimester to identify the risks of certain birth defects. A twin or multiple pregnancy can produce high AFP results.
  • Measuring large for Gestational Age. Your health care provider may use the measurement of the fundus (the area from the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus) to indicate gestational age. If the measurement is large, you may have multiples. However, there are other factors that can increase the size of the fundus as well.
  • Weight gain. Here, too, many factors can contribute to excessive weight gain. 
  • Excessive morning sickness. Some studies suggest that pregnancy with twins or multiples leads to a greater degree of morning sickness, but researchers are not entirely certain that this is always the case.
  • Early and frequent fetal movement. While multiples often do experience earlier or more frequent movement, many singles do as well.
  • Extreme fatigue. Fatigue can be an indication of multiples; it can also be an indication of work, stress, poor nutrition, or just plain old tiredness.
  • Family history and mother’s intuition. While not exactly scientific, a family history or mother’s hunches can sometimes be indicators of a twin or multiple pregnancy.