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There is something very special and exciting about twin pregnancies. Yet, the risk of complications also goes up and moms lucky enough to be carrying two need great prenatal care.

How and when do you usually find out you are expecting twins? 

How most people find out about twins

Prenatal care varies from country to country, but most pregnant women in developed countries will see their prenatal care provider within the first trimester. The first prenatal appointment usually includes an ultrasound, and these early ultrasounds usually show twins clearly. In places where your doctor would not normally carry an ultrasound out during the first trimester of pregnancy, they may recommend one if you are large for your pregnancy's gestational age.

Women who are pregnant as the result of IVF treatment and had multiple embryos implanted and women who were on the medication Clomid to conceive will almost be expected to carry twins. In these situations, early ultrasounds are most definitely routine. If you have IVF, finding out how many embryos implanted successfully is in fact the main point of such early ultrasounds.

Early signs you are expecting twins

If you are newly(ish) pregnant and wondering if you could be having twins, you are wondering about something that must cross the mind of every single expectant mother. What are some of the real early signs you might be expecting twins? I bet you can guess most of them:

  • Being exceptionally large for the age of the pregnancy.
  • Worse pregnancy symptoms, such as extreme morning sickness, dreadful fatigue, and water retention earlier on.
  • Feeling fetal movement earlier in the pregnancy.

Before you get all excited (or sad, depending on whether you would like to have twins or not), it is important to note a few things. First, every pregnancy is different. Second, women who have already had a child or more are likely to "show" earlier on because those muscles have all been stretched before. Fetal movement is also often felt earlier on in subsequent pregnancies.

Really noticeable, draining pregnancy symptoms can have all kinds of causes. The only reliable signs that you are carrying twins are two fetal heartbeats being detected, and seeing two fetuses on an ultrasound monitor. If you suspect you are carrying twins, wait until you see these confirmations!

When can you find out if your twins are identical or fraternal?

Fraternal twins come into being when two eggs are released at the same time, and they are both fertilized. This type of twin is also called dizygotic or DZ for short. Identical twins forms from a single fertilized egg that splits into two. They are also called MZ twins. Expectant parents who are going to have twins often want to find out what type of twins they are going to have as soon as possible. In many cases, it is not possible to tell whether twins are MZ or DZ without an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

These procedures carry a small risk of complications, and deciding not to have these tests is certainly a very valid choice. Sometimes you can still find out during the first trimester. If the babies share a placenta, they are monozygotic. If not, they can still be MZ or DZ. Twins that share a gender may be MZ.

Is it really important to know whether twins are MZ or DZ, in the womb? That depends on who you ask. Monozygotic twins do have some risk of developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. This is a complication in which one twin gets ample nutrition while the other is undernourished. This can be very dangerous, and should be watched out for during a MZ or suspected MZ pregnancy.

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