Multiple Pregnancy

Most women with a multiple pregnancy will be having twins. Occasionally higher multiples are seen such as triplets.

Twinning is commoner if there is a family history of twins. The chance of having twins increases with maternal age as well. Assisted reproduction techniques also increase the multiple pregnancy rate.

The background incidence of twinning is about 1:80 and for triplets about 1:900.

Most twin pregnancies are non-identical and have two sets of membranes each and two placentas, which can be fused or separate. Identical twins usually have one placenta and one outer membrane.

The diagnosis of a multiple pregnancy will usually have been made in the first trimester. By looking at the thickness of the membranes on ultrasound we can usually tell if the pregnancies are identical or non-identical.

If you are having a multiple pregnancy you will need more frequent antenatal visits and scans to make sure the babies are growing at similar rates. Any of the potential problems of pregnancy is more likely to happen if you are having a multiple pregnancy.

Twin pregnancies can be delivered at Rockhampton Mater from 32 weeks gestation. Triplet or higher multiple pregnancies will need to be managed in Brisbane.

Many women wish to have a vaginal delivery of their twin pregnancy. Dr Etherington is happy to deliver twins vaginally if the leading twin is in a head-first position and if there are no other pregnancy problems. The labour will need more frequent monitoring than for a single pregnancy to ensure that both babies are delivered in good condition. We aim to keep the interval between the twin deliveries to less than 30 minutes. If you are having a vaginal twin delivery you should expect there to be more trained staff in the room at the time of delivery including the obstetrician, the paediatrician and a number of midwives.

If your twin pregnancy is complicated by another obstetric risk factor then delivery by caesarean section will usually be recommended.

Some women also choose to have their twins delivered by caesarean section in the absence of any other obstetric complication.