Multiple pregnancy is when a woman is expecting two or more babies at one time. This happens to about 1 in 65 women. Each year in the UK there are over 12,000 multiples births. At BSUH around 2.7% of our births are multiples.
Discovering you are expecting more than one baby can be both exciting and overwhelming news. Most parents are understandably a little apprehensive as being pregnant with more than one baby brings a unique set of challenges.
At the dating scan the sonographer (the person performing the scan) will be checking to see how many babies you are carrying, if your babies are in separate sacs and whether they share a placenta.
Our aim is to provide you with both support and information to help you and your family prepare for your pregnancy, your birth and for when your babies arrive.
Dizygotic or non-identical twins
These twins occur when two separate eggs are fertilised by two separate sperms. This may occur naturally or with IVF.
It is possible for the babies to be both boys, both girls or one of each.
Dizygotic twins are no more similar to each other than any other siblings.
Monozygotic or identical twins
These twins occur when a single egg splits into two after fertilisation.
The twins will either both be boys or both be girls.
Triplets are formed in the same way as the twins above but can be in different combinations, for example three non-identical babies or one set of identical twins and another baby.
Dichorionic refers to twins who have separate placentas. All dizygotic (non-identical) twins and a third of monozygotic (identical) twins will have separate placentas.
Monochorionic refers to twins who share a placenta. Two thirds of monozygotic (identical) twins will share a placenta.
Diamniotic refers to two separate sacs. Dizygotic (non-identical) twins will always have their own sac. Two thirds of monozygotic (identical) twins have a shared placenta but develop in separate sacs.
Monamniotic refers to one shared sac.
However don’t be alarmed by this as most women expecting twins will have an uneventful pregnancy and healthy babies. This is to ensure you have the best possible care for you and your babies. You will have a lot more scans and increased antenatal check up’s with your obstetrician and midwife.
At your first appointment with your consultant, a care pathway will be discussed and agreed with you, this will include your appointments and the number of scans to assess the growth of your babies. Your care will depend on whether your babies are either monochorionic (identical) or dichorionic (non-identical), or if you are carrying triplets.
It is very important to be prepared.
To ensure you are fully informed about your choices for birth and help with your preparation, we hold a free antenatal class, designed especially for parents expecting a multiple pregnancy. The class is held by experienced midwives.
Your midwife will discuss with you when to book via the website. You should attend when you are around 28 weeks pregnant.
This class will ensure you and your birthing partner feel confident in your pregnancy, birth and life with your new born babies.
If these are your first babies you do not need to also book the antenatal class for first time parents – all the information you need will be given at the multiple birth specific classes.
Whatever birth you choose we will support you and provide you with high quality care to ensure you have a positive birthing experience.
More than half of twins are born by caesarean but 4 out of 10 twins are not. Your decision to have a vaginal birth or caesarean will depend upon several factors. Please refer to the Multiple Birth Leaflet to understand the factors that might affect your decision and your obstetrician recommendations.
If I choose an elective caesarean Section:
Please see our page on elective caesarean to find out more.
If I choose a vaginal birth:
You will agree a plan of care with your consultant and midwife.
A hospital birth, in a consultant led unit is recommended.
Call maternity triage when you have any signs of labour so we can assess the wellbeing of both you and your babies.
Once you have settled into the labour room, we may suggest an ultrasound scan to check the position of twin one.
We recommend that we closely monitor both babies’ heart rates continuously using a CTG machine.
During labour you will be cared for 1:1 by a midwife. When the birth is imminent there are likely to be more clinicians in the room to support both you and the babies when they are born.
Once your first baby is born, your midwife or doctor will check the position of your second twin by feeling your tummy and doing a vaginal examination, or an ultrasound scan to check if your second twin is in a good position to be born. On average we would expect for the second baby to be born within an hour of the first. If a delay is anticipated we may recommend your waters be broken and you might need a hormone drip to help with continued contractions.
To help the placenta(s) to be delivered we would recommend the use of a hormone injection and a hormone drip. This is because there is an increased risk of bleeding with a multiple birth, because the placental site is larger.
It is imperative that you feel completely informed and that you have been given accurate information to make a well informed decision around your birth.
Women have multiple births are prioritised to stay in a side room for the duration of their stay on the postnatal ward. Your partner or nominated support person is able to stay with you whilst you and your babies are in hospital so that they can support you and you can bond as a family. The midwives and maternity support staff will make sure that you and your babies are recovering well from the birth and will support you with feeding and caring for your babies.
Twins and Multiples Groups in the Brighton and Hove Area:
Friday 9:45am-11:45am (Term time only)
Salvation Army, Park Crescent Terrace, Brighton. BN2 3HD
Please call: 01273 607095
Monday 9.30 -11.30am
Multiple Birth Group
Hangleton Park Chidren’s Centre. Harmsworth Crescent, Hangleton, BN3 3BW.
Twin and Multiple Groups: Mid and West Sussex Area
1st, 3rd ,5th Friday of the month 10.00-11.30am
All Saints Church
122-122a High Street, Lindfield, Haywards Heath, RH16 2HS.
2nd Wednesday of the Month 10.00 – 12.00pm
East Grinstead Twins & More
East Grinstead Library
32-40 West St
Tuesday 9.15-11.00am (term-time only)
‘Twiglets’ Family Group Meetings
The Needles Children & Family Centre, Three Acres, Horsham, RH12 1RS
Thursdays 1.00 – 3.00 pm (term-time only)
‘Twiglets’ Family Group Meetings
Holy Trinity Church Hall, Titmus Drive, Tilgate, Crawley, RH10 5EU
Fortnightly Friday’s 10.00-11.30am
Multiple Birth Group
Goring United Reform Church, Barrington Road, Worthing. BN12 4EA
NICE [QS 46]: Multiple pregnancy: twin and triplet pregnancies
BSUH: Multiple pregnancy
Twins and Multiple Births Association: www.tamba.org.uk
Multiple Birth Foundation: www.multiplebirths.org.uk
Social Media Support Groups