Should You Purposely Get Pregnant With Twins or Triplets?

Pregnant Woman Sitting On Porch Reading about the risks of IVF twins and triplets
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Maybe you have been trying to conceive for years, and you have struggled to pay for your IVF treatments. Now, your doctor is suggesting a single embryo transfer... but you want to try for twins or even triplets.

Or, perhaps, your doctor has treated you with fertility drugs like Clomid or gonadotropins. An ultrasound has shown multiple follicles developing, and your doctor has asked you not to have sex. The risk of conceiving multiples is high, and he wants to avoid that possibility.

But wouldn't it be easier if you could just get pregnant with twins or triplets? You could create your family in one pregnancy and possibly avoid paying again for costly fertility treatments.

Please think again.

Multiple pregnancies come with risks, for both you and your future babies.

Risks of Twins and Triplets for the Mother

A multiple pregnancy puts your health at risk.

Your chances of developing pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes are higher with multiple pregnancies.

Also, the risk of miscarriage and preterm labor is increased. You may get pregnant with more than one... but not get to take them home.

Another factor to consider, if your babies are born prematurely, you might not get to take them home right away. Depending on how premature they are, they may need to stay in the hospital for weeks or even months.

This can be a highly stressful situation for a new mother and father.

Don't discount the stress multiples will place on your family after you bring them 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 a premature birth. According to the March of Dimes, more than 50% of twins are born premature. The statistics are even worse for triplets—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
  • General health problems

We're talking about long-term problems. Not problems that they will necessarily outgrow or recover from quickly... or ever.

Premature babies may also be born having serious problems with their lungs, stomach, or intestines. 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 even then, your risk of identical twins are higher than average. You can get pregnant with twins even if you transfer just 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 transfer more embryos than necessary or before you have sex despite your doctor telling you to abstain please consider the risks you and your babies face.

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Article Sources
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  • Complications and Problems Associated With Multiple Births: Fact Sheet. American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

  • Multiples: Twins, Triplets and Beyond. Quick Reference Fact Sheet.