Triplets, often referred to as multiple pregnancy is a condition when more than one baby is conceived and grows in the womb at the same time. Though considered rare, it is possible for a woman to get pregnant with triplets naturally. There are two ways in which triplets are formed: Monozygotic, where one fertilized egg splits into three identical embryos. All the babies thus formed will be of the same sex and will have identical genes. Dizygotic, where each egg is fertilized by a separate sperm. In this the babies need not necessarily be of the same gender and may have different genes. Triplets can be trichorionic (where each baby has its own placenta and chorion), dichorionic (where two babies share a placenta and chorion while the third is separate) ormonochorionic (where all three babies share the same placenta and chorion). Depending on the type of pregnancy, antenatal care will differ. Each has its own share of risks and problems associated with it and therefor utmost care and rest are essential.
What are the odds of having triplets?
Normally, conceiving triplets is associated with assisted reproductive techniques, but it is not impossible for a woman to conceive triplets normally as well. In assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF, more than one embryo is transferred to the womb to increase the chances of one surviving. There is no scientific evidence to support that identical multiples are an effect of heredity. Moreover, there are no ways to increase or decrease your chances of having triplets. Of course, if you belong to a family where non-identical multiples are common, you stand a higher chance from others who do not genetically belong to such families. Besides, you are more likely to have multiple pregnancies if:
You are over 35 and pregnant.
You have a family history of having triplets on your mother’s side.
You have had multiple pregnancies before.
You are of African descent.
If you have previously had fertility assistance.
You eat a diet which is high in milk, dairy products and yam.
You are extremely lucky!
How can I get pregnant with twins?
Getting pregnant with twins is another type of multiple pregnancy and more common. As in the case of triplets, when a single egg is fertilized by a single sperm which them splits up into two embryos, identical twins are conceived, who have the same sex and identical genes. When more than one egg is fertilized by a separate sperm, non-identical or fraternal twins are conceived. In this case, the babies neither have the same gender nor share the genes.
How likely are women to have twins?
Your chances of conceiving twins are higher if:
Your mom or sister has twins. It doesn’t depend on the men, because it is the woman who is producing more than one egg which then gets fertilized.
You include more of milk and fat in your diet which increases your BMI.
You were on a pill and conceived soon after coming off it. This could be because after coming off the pill your body goes through hormonal readjustment due to which multiple eggs could be released.
Complications of having triplets
Some of the common complications associated with conceiving triplets are:
For the mother:
Pregnancy symptoms tend to be worse—severe morning sickness and heartburn.
You are likely to get breathless as your expanding uterus presses on your lungs.
You are more likely to develop varicose veins as there is more pressure on your blood vessels.
Your blood pressure tends to get high, causing a condition called pre-eclampsia.
Miscarriage could be possible, if proper care is not taken.
Excessive bleeding before, during and after the babies are born.
Too much fluid may accumulate around the babies.
Breastfeeding tends to be more difficult when you have to feed three children.
For the baby:
One or more babies may be stillborn.
The babies may be born before the completion of the term and may have poor growth.
When babies share a placenta and amniotic sac, the umbilical cord may get tangled.
Chances for babies developing Down’s Syndrome is higher in triplets than when you have a single baby. However, this is debatable.
All these are not meant to create panic, but to create awareness so that you can discuss with your doctor and take necessary preventive steps. When you are pregnant with triplets you have more antenatal checkups, your blood pressure will be monitored carefully and so you don’t need to worry much. Multiple pregnancies are more common in the UK least common in Japan and not so common in India. If you happen to be pregnant with twins or triplets, relax and enjoy…not everyone is as lucky as you are!