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…
- Your family history
- Your lifestyle
- Number of children you have
- Maternal age
- Where you’re from
- Fertility treatment
So, you’re TTC – 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.
‘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.
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.
Number of children you have
Chances are this is just a case of odds – the more children you’ve had, the more likely at some stage you’ll conceive multiples.
The more children you’ve had, the more likely at some stage you’ll conceive multiples
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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.’