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Should I Purposely Try To Get Pregnant With Twins Or Triplets?

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Updated May 08, 2014

Question: Should I Purposely Try To Get Pregnant With Twins Or Triplets?
Answer:

Getting pregnant with twins, or even triplets, may sound like a quick way to build your family when you're dealing with infertility. After all you go through during treatment, not to mention the cost of each treatment cycle, wishing for twins or triplets in hopes of completing your family in one swoop sounds enticing.

Some couples ask their doctors to help them get pregnant with twins, either by placing more embryos than needed into the uterus during IVF treatment, or by using higher doses of fertility drugs during non-IVF cycles. However, multiple pregnancies come with risks.

Risks For The Mother

A multiple pregnancy puts your health at risk. Your chances of developing pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes are higher with multiple pregnancies. Also, the risk of miscarriage and preterm labor is increased.

Another factor to consider, if your babies are born prematurely, you might not get to take them home right away. This can be a highly stressful situation as a new mother.

Once you do get home, twins and triplets require more than twice the work of caring for one baby. Family and friends may offer their help at first, but that doesn't last forever. Eventually, you'll be on your own.

Risks To The Baby

Besides the increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, the biggest risk to your babies is premature birth. According to the March of Dimes, more than 50% of twins, and more than 90% of triplets, are born premature. For higher-order pregnancies, like quadruplets or more, virtually all babies are born premature.

While doctors today are better able to care for babies born prematurely, a premature baby still has a higher risk of cerebral palsy, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and general health problems. Also, premature babies may be born having serious problems with their lungs, stomach, or intestines, because they didn't have enough time to fully and properly develop in the womb.

Not every twin or triplet pregnancy will lead to preterm labor, but the risk is significantly higher than a singleton pregnancy.

The Bottom Line

Of course, you can't completely eliminate the risk of getting pregnant with twins or triplets during fertility treatment (unless you're using IVF, and you transfer only one embryo). But there's a big difference between accidentally getting pregnant with twins or more, and trying to get pregnant with twins.

Before you push your doctor to help you get pregnant with twins or triplets, be sure to consider the risks you and your babies may face.

More on twins:

More on getting pregnant with infertility:

Sources:

Complications and Problems Associated With Multiple Births: Fact Sheet. American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Accessed August 20, 2008. http://asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/complications_multiplebirths.pdf

Multiples: Twins, Triplets and Beyond. Quick Reference Fact Sheet. Accessed August 20, 2008. http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_4545.asp

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