Twins - Double The Trouble Or Double The Pleasure? Both!

If You're Having it double the headache, or double the joy? Probably both!

What Causes Twins?
The number of twins is on the increase, probably because of IVF treatment where more than one fertilised egg is placed in the womb.

Of the non-IVF twins, there are two causes:

  • Two eggs are released during ovulation and both are fertilised by separate sperm - it is possible twins can be fathered by two different Dads! In this case the twins are not identical (even if they have the same Dad!). Non-identical twins are also known as fraternal, they share about half their genes so they may or may not look the same. It is even possible for a couple of mixed race to have one white and one black twin - now wouldn't that be fun! You could just imagine the comments from some dumb folk.
  • Identical twins result when the egg splits into two during the first 14 days. In this case both twins have similar looks - the saying 'two peas out of the same pod' has more than an element of truth! If the egg splits into two after around 14 days, the result could be Siamese (conjoined) twins, but this is extremely rare. The reasons why the egg splits are not really known, although a recent study has remarked that medical treatment to encourage ovulation may cause the wall of the egg to weaken thus making it more likely to split.
  • So, you found out from your ultrasound scan that you are expecting twins. How do you know if they will be identical? Do you have to wait until they are toddlers before this is apparent? Maybe.

    Firstly a boy/girl pair are not identical. If your scan reveals two babies of the same sex, you need to find out whether there is one or two placentas: if there's one, your twins are probably identical; two placentas and the jury's still out. Even after birth you still may not know. Again, a single placenta places the odds heavily in favor of identical twins, two placentas either fused or separate are inconclusive; the only way then to get the answer is through a DNA test, or you can wait until they start to grow up.

    Feeding Twins
    In the first few days you will think this is impossible. It is possible to breastfeed two babies but a bottle is easier, especially if you have help. It is also easier to monitor how much each baby has taken if you use a bottle.But you probably want to breastfeed because it is better for your babies. It can take several weeks before your breasts produce sufficient milk, so a combination of your milk and a formula feed may be necessary until your milk production gets up to speed. Try to feed both babies at once otherwise you will be at it non-stop.

    Raising Twins
    There's no denying it's hard work. According to Tamba, the Twins and Multiple Births Association, twins should be encouraged to achieve a sense of individuality. To this end don't dress them in matching clothes, if you are given matching clothes as a gift try to ensure they wear their identical outfits on different days. Ask family and friends to send individual cards and presents, and try not to refer to them as 'the twins'.

    It has been known for many years that twins' language is about six months behind their peers. They talk later and in shorter sentences. This can lead to reading difficulties later and problems when they start school. You can help by ensuring that you find time to talk and read to them, individually if possible as if you talk to them as a pair the dominant one will respond and the other may just opt out. If you can't find the time or energy for a bedtime read, play them a story tape.

    Above all, try to raise two individuals. There's a story of one mom who took her two boys to nursery: one was asked what his name was and his reply was 'Michael and John'! Sad.


    Author: Tony and Katy Luck who have a website about raising babies.


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