Close Close
Mother and Baby

6 Factors That Increase Your Chance Of Having Twins Or Multiples

6 Factors That Increase Your Chance Of Having Twins Or Multiples

Time to dig out the family tree and have a think about your diet – these factors both increase your likelihood of having twins or multiples…

So, you’re trying to concieve – and visualising yourself brandishing a dirty nappy while your partner wrangles with a babygro.

That picture in your head includes one baby, not two or three, right? Thought so. Still, there are factors that can increase your likelihood of conceiving twins or multiples.

Are twins common? 

Many fertility experts believe twins are more common than we are aware of, it being reasonably common for more than one embryo to be implanted, yet in a lot of cases, only one twin survives.

Before we talk about increasing your chances of adding two to your brood, it's important to understand how twins are made. You'll probably know that there are two types of twins: identical and non-identical.

  • Identical twins: Identical, or monozygotic twins are made when one egg is fertilised by one sperm, which divides into two seperate embryos. They'll not only look identical, but share the same genetic structures and the same placenta. 
  • Non-identical twins: Non-identical or dizygotic twins are made when two seperate eggs are fertalised by two seperaed sperm. These twins will have their own genetic composition and will have their own placentas. This type of twin is more common. 

‘Identical twins, which make up around a third of twin pregnancies, come from one egg and are basically a fluke of nature – there’s no known common factor in those,’ says David Davies, consultant obstetrician at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital. ‘But with non-identical twins or triplets, which come from different eggs, there are several shared influences.’

From what you eat to the size of your family, get clued up on the likelihood that you’re going to need a bigger buggy. 

Your family history

Yes, that’s your history, not his. In fact, even if your partner has twins in his family, it makes no difference.

‘It’s all about the woman because you’re the one producing the eggs, so if you or your mum are twins, or perhaps your sister has multiple babies, then you’ll be more likely to conceive more than one,’ says David.

>> Read more: How soon after coming off the pill can you get pregnant? 

Your lifestyle

Women who have a low-fat diet, especially vegans and vegetarians, are less likely to have multiples than someone who goes for the whole milk and tucks into steak every Friday.

‘The possible causes of this are subtle hormonal changes in people with these different diets, as well as perhaps someone with a higher fat diet having a higher body mass index (BMI) – that’s a measure for checking how healthy your weight is in relation to your height,’ says David.

That said, even if you are a veggie, there's plenty of fertility superfoods to start adding to your diet if you are trying to concieve - whether that's one baby or two! 

There's also an idea that if you fall pregnant when you are on the pill, or concieve soon after coming off the pill, you are more likely to get pregnant with twins. As difficult as this can be, the idea behind this theory is that for the first couple of cycles after coming off the pill, your body goes through a hormonal readjustment phase and more eggs can be released. 

The number of children you have

Chances are this is just a case of odds – but research suggests the more children you’ve had, the more likely at some stage you’ll conceive multiples. Your chances of conceiving twins is also thought to be higher if you already have twins. 

The more children you’ve had, the more likely at some stage you’ll conceive multiples

You’re simply giving yourself more opportunities to strike lucky. ‘There’s also the possibility that if you’ve always become pregnant easily in the past, you’re basically a good ovulator, so to speak’ says David.

Maternal age

Naturally conceived twins and triplets are more common in women in their 30s and 40s.

‘This is about the way your ovaries work and how their function changes with age, so you may release more than one egg each month,’ says David.

Fertility expert Emma Cannon adds 'There is some idea that the older you are the more likely you are to conceive twins, because apparently as you reach the end of your fertile life the body panics a bit and often releases more than one egg, so that’s one way – it’s a bit risky though!'

>> Read more: 10 ttc tips the fertility experts want you to know 

Where you’re from

Western Europe sees around one in 60 twin pregnancies, while they’re much more rare in South East Asia. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, twins make up one in every 20 or 30 pregnancies!

‘There are no real theories I’m aware of that would account for this, but interestingly if you’re Nigerian and living in another country, you’re less likely to conceive multiples than if you’re based in Nigeria – so perhaps it’s to do with diet or climate,’ says David.

>> Read more: Can you really influence whether you have a girl or boy? 

Fertility treatment

One of the biggies that can boost your likelihood of having more than one child is having fertility treatment, such as IVF.

‘When IVF started to get really affective in the US during the 1970s and 1980s, twin rates pretty much doubled,’ says David. ‘It’s down to your body being given drugs to stimulate it to ovulate and produce eggs.’

Trying to conceive? Take a look at these ovulation facts: 

Expand Image
Expand Image
The average woman’s’ cycle is 28 days, but your cycle can be anything from 22 to 36 days long. Ovulation normally happens about two weeks before your next period, so if your cycle is 28 days, you will ovulate around day 14. Work out when you are ovulating by using our ovulation calculator. 
Expand Image
Your egg lives for up to 24 hours after leaving your ovary, so if you are having sex around your most fertile days, you’ll have the best chance of conceiving. 
Expand Image
That said, your partner’s sperm can live for up to five days, so it’s a good idea to also have sex before ovulation occurs if you are trying to conceive. 
Expand Image
Your partner will release around 250 million sperm during ejaculation, however only around 400 of these sperm will make the ten-hour journey from your vagina, through your cervix and up the fallopian tube, where it can penetrate the egg. Only one can burrow through your eggs outer membrane. 
Expand Image
Ovulation can be affected by a number of different things including stress and illness. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while, it might be time to take a look at your job stresses, or workout routine. 
Expand Image
The sex of your baby is actually determined from the moment your partner’s sperm meets your egg – if the sperm is carrying a Y chromosome, you’ll have conceived a boy and if it’s an X chromosome, it’ll be a girl. 
Expand Image
Every woman is born with millions of immature eggs – half of these will be absorbed by your ovaries before you reach adolescence, the other half will sit waiting for your ovulation cycle to begin. Only 300 to 500 of these eggs (medically referred to as oocytes) will become mature eggs in your lifetime.  
Expand Image
You can have a period even if you haven’t ovulated and you can ovulate without having a period. 
Expand Image
Some women experience some bleeding as their fertilised egg burrows into the lining of their womb, this is called implantation bleeding and can often be confused with a period. Here's how to tell the difference between implantation bleeding and a period
Expand Image
If an egg is not fertilised by a sperm during the ovulation period, it will disintegrate and be absorbed into the lining of the uterus or pass out with the menstrual flow. 
Expand Image
Ovulation happens thanks to two different hormones – during the most fertile week of your cycle, your levels of lutenising hormones (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) will rise. This stimulates the production of follicles in your ovary. 
Expand Image
Each month, one follicle will become larger than the others and produce an egg. Usually only one egg will be released during each cycle. This follicle will also start to produce oestrogen, which tells your body to start thickening the lining of the womb for implantation. 
Expand Image
Once the egg has been released, the same (now empty) follicle will produce another hormone – progesterone, which prevents the release of any more eggs this cycle. The empty follicle is medically referred to as corpus luteum. This level of progesterone remains high enough to prevent any more eggs from being released for the next 12 to 16 days, after which your cycle will start again. This is the same horomone that is in birth control pills. 
Expand Image
Your egg is smaller than the head of a pin when it is released during ovulation. 
Expand Image
Although a lot of women do not experience any physical signs of ovulating, one in five will experience lower abdominal pain, known as mittelschmerz – a German word meaning ‘middle pain’. 
Expand Image
Another physical sign you are ovulating is a clear, somewhat elastic discharge in the days leading up to ovulation. It might sound gross, but try stretching it between two fingers so you know what to look out for each month. 
Expand Image
If you want to be really sure when you are ovulating, monitoring your basal body temperature (BBT) is a good indicator. Your basal body temperature averages around 36.1-36.4°C before ovulation, and rises to between 36.4-37°C after ovulation. The downside to this method is that your body temperature changes 12 to 24 hours after ovulation has actually occurred, meaning there can be little time left to conceive. 
Expand Image
Research has proved your sense of smell increases when you are ovulating. Science tells us you also look more attractive to your partner when you’re ovulating. 
Expand Image
Home pregnancy tests work by checking your urine for the hormone hCG, that your body starts to make once a fertilised egg has been implanted in your uterus. However, this process can take several days, so if you take a test straight away, you might want to re-take it nearer to when your period is due. Find out more about when to take a pregnancy test here. 

 
Related content:

Comments

  • Kacookie84 - 27/07/2016 19:31

    I'm a 31 year old identical twin and I'm 25 weeks pregnant with identical twin boys.

  • hippofeetshoes - 20/11/2016 22:37

    We had twins and all we did was use hormone injections before having DUI and this has given us the greatest gift of all. Noah and Joseph are 4 this Christmas. It lead us to start our own baby business and we advertise our business www.hippofeet.com with your print magazine now. Our eldest Twin Joseph is in your ad and he is so cute. Please look at his picture in your magazine. He is the little blonde boy in maroon dungarees in the adverts. Everyone loves twins! We don't know what we would be like if we had not had our boys.

"