A multiple pregnancy is when you're pregnant with 2 or more babies. This can mean twins, triplets, quadruplets or more.
Almost 2 in every 100 births in Ireland are twins. A woman is more likely to have twins if there are twins in her extended family.
More people are having fertility treatments. This means multiple pregnancies are becoming more common.
In most cases, a dating scan at 11 to 13 weeks will tell if you are pregnant with more than 1 baby.
Types of multiple pregnancy
Identical twins happen when 1 fertilised egg splits in 2. Each baby has the exact same DNA, so they will look very alike and be the same sex. Around 1 in 3 twin births in Ireland are identical.
Around 2 in 3 twin births are non-identical. This is where 2 sperm fertilise 2 eggs at the same time. The babies may be different sexes. They will look more like siblings than twins.
Triplets can be identical or non-identical. Sometimes only 2 of the 3 babies may be identical. Sometimes all 3 babies may be identical.
How multiple pregnancy differs from a single pregnancy
Most women with multiple pregnancies have a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies. Your bump will be bigger than women who are having 1 baby.
Complications and multiple pregnancy
Complications can be more common with multiple pregnancies. It may be safer to have your babies in hospital.
Your care will be led by an obstetrician if you are pregnant with twins or multiple babies. Your medical team may tell you to have your babies in a hospital that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This is because you may go into premature labour.
Pre-eclampsia and anaemia are more common in a multiple pregnancy.
During labour and birth there will be more healthcare professionals than usual present.
Breastfeeding and multiple pregnancy
It is possible to breastfeed twins and even triplets. Your midwife will help guide you.
Planning for a multiple pregnancy
Your babies may come early. This might change your plans with work and leave. Consider starting your maternity leave earlier than planned.
When your babies are born, you will be very busy caring for them. Take any help and support offered. Try to establish feeding and sleeping routines early on. This will help you deal with the extra tasks a multiple birth brings.