During pregnancy, mothers of twins and triplets are at greater risk of various serious health problems, as well as the risk of losing their babies.
- 20% of mothers carrying twins suffer from induced hypertension (high blood pressure), compared to only 1–5% of mothers of singletons
- the risk of pre-eclampsia is up to 30% for twin pregnancies compared to 2–10% in singleton pregnancies. Triplet pregnancies carry an even higher risk
- the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes is up to 12% for women carrying twins compared to only 4% for mothers with singleton pregnancies. Although the risks to the mother are fairly mild, gestational diabetes can increase the risk of the death to the unborn child or newborn baby
During or after birth:
During birth, mothers of twins are more likely to require intervention, more likely to experience problems.
- C-section is very common among twin births because complications with the birth are more likely with twins – for example, one or both babies are in a breech position
the risks of a range of other problems such as haemorrhage and anaemia are also higher in twin births
- multiple births also carry the risk that, after the baby is born, the new mother will be at greater risk of stress and depression
- women with a history of infertility are more likely to find being a parent stressful. It is more likely to affect their health, even for singleton first-time mothers compared to naturally conceiving first-time mothers or mothers with a history of infertility who already have children
Even the less serious problems may result in the mother spending longer periods in hospital than would normally be necessary. Women may have to spend the last weeks of their pregnancy in hospital, and the birth may have to be induced early.
Risks for twins and triplets
The health risks for twins and triplets are greatly increased compared with those for singletons, mostly because multiples tend to be born prematurely and underweight.
Premature and underweight babies account for half of all neonatal deaths. The risk of early and late miscarriage is also higher for twins than for singleton pregnancies.