Multiples manifest their presence in several ways, but no one symptom distinguishes itself as a clear indicator. Some mothers of multiples report a strong suspicion based on one factor or combination of signals, while others experience absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
Some mothers are fully aware that they are pregnant with two or more babies from the very beginning of their pregnancy. They may have strong and accurate powers of intuition or, more likely, they are under the supervision of a reproductive specialist who is monitoring every step of the conception process. However, most women who spontaneously conceive twins, triplets, or more won't begin to suspect anything out of the ordinary until their pregnancy progresses.
Any of the following indicators may come up in the first trimester. If you experience them to an unusually extreme degree, it may be a sign that you are carrying multiples.
- Weight gain: A singleton mother gains, on average, five to seven pounds in the first trimester. Anything more could indicate multiples…or excessive junk food consumption!
- Abdomen size: With multiple babies in her womb, a pregnant woman tends to outgrow her regular clothing and require maternity gear sooner. Although it is difficult to estimate fundal size (the size of the uterus) in early pregnancy, sometimes an increase is evident, indicating multiple babies.
- Fatigue: Excessive fatigue is one of the most commonly reported complaints of mothers of multiples in the early stages of pregnancy. With their bodies busy taking care of the babies, there is little energy left over for carrying out their daily routines.
- Fetal movement: It's very unusual for a mother to experience fetal movement in the first trimester, yet there is some evidence to suggest that the sensation is more acute when there is more than one baby moving around.
- Nausea: Extra babies can intensify the symptoms of morning sickness, such as nausea and vomiting.
You may be aware of some or all of these indications, or none at all. Perhaps your doctor or midwife brought the symptoms to your attention during a routine exam. However, they are also all normal consequences of pregnancy, which makes it quite difficult to tell whether they are truly a sign of multiples.
The phenomenon of one audible heartbeat is particularly common with monochorionic monozygotics . Not only do they have similar heart rhythms, but they tend to settle close to each other because they are contained in the same sac.
A Certain Something
In addition to physical symptoms, many mothers of multiples report an unexplainable hunch or vague suspicion early in pregnancy. Often it's triggered by unusual circumstances that bring multiples to the forefront of their attention. Perhaps they dream about having twins, or find themselves running across several sets of multiples in a public place. Or they may encounter mysterious phenomena that occur in sets of twos or threes. One expectant mother of twins discovered that the eggs she'd bought for holiday baking all contained double yolks; two days later an ultrasound revealed that she was having twins!
You might assume that multiple babies would be easily identified by listening for multiple heartbeats. Unfortunately, that is not an effective practice in early pregnancy. Distinct heartbeat sounds are usually only detected toward the end of the first trimester, about week twelve. Even then, what sounds like an additional baby might actually be an echo of the mother's own beating heart. In other situations, multiple babies that are positioned fairly close together in the womb may have indistinguishable rhythms that are misinterpreted as a single heartbeat.