Many women suspect that they might be carrying more than one baby, but how can you know for sure. The following indicators may point towards a multiples pregnancy.
This is the only way to know for sure if you are carrying more than one baby. Multiples can be identified in an ultrasound.
Doppler Heartbeat Count
Fetal heart sounds may be detected by a Doppler system late in the first trimester. Experienced doctors and midwives may be able to detect multiple heart beats; however, this can be inaccurate since a single pregnancy heartbeat can be detected in several areas of the mother's abdomen.
Elevated hCG Levels
hCG is the hormone that is produced during pregnancy. Women who are carrying multiples may have increased levels of hCG; however, increased levels of hCG does not automatically indicate multiples. Further investigation would need to be done to verify the cause of a high hCG level.
Abnormal AFP Test Results
Alphafetoprotein (AFP) Screenings are performed during the second trimester. It is also called the maternal serum screening or the triple marker test and is used to detect certain birth defects. This test measures the amount of a certain protein that is secreted by the fetal liver. Therefore, a multiples pregnancy may give off a positive or high test reading.
Measuring Large for Gestational Age
Most doctors and midwives monitor a women's fundal height (the distance between the top of the pubic bone to the top of the uterus) during pregnancy. This measurement can help indicate the gestational age. Women who are carrying multiples often experience more uterine stretching, and the fundal height may be greater than the actual gestational age. However, there may be other factors that cause this to occur.
There are numerous factors that can cause excessive weight gain, and most are attributed to poor eating habits. The amount of weight a woman should gain depends on her height, body type, and pre-pregnancy weight. On an average, women who are carrying multiples only gain about 10 more pounds than those carrying a single pregnancy.
Excessive Morning Sickness
About half of all pregnant women experience some form of morning sickness during their pregnancies. While some mothers of multiples report an increase in the severity of morning sickness, many do not. Just because a woman is pregnant with multiples does not mean that she will experience a double or triple dose of morning sickness.
Early or Frequent Fetal Movement
Although controversial within the medical community, some moms of multiples do report that they felt the baby move earlier than expected. It is also important to know that most women do experience earlier movement in subsequent pregnancies than in their first pregnancy.
While this can also be caused by stress, work, and responsibilities, it is also commonly reported by women who are pregnant with multiples. This may be associated with the mother's body attempting to provide nutrients to more than one baby.
History or Intuition
A multiples pregnancy can run in certain families while some mother's may have an uncanny intuition that they are pregnant with multiples.
Remember that many of these signs can indicate that something else is going on, and the only way to be 100% positive that you are carrying multiples is through ultrasound confirmation.
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association