What to expect when expecting multiples

A multiple pregnancy comes with multiple anxieties and fears. Here’s what you need to know.


How to cope with a multiple pregnancy?


  • Look after yourself and put your needs as well as the needs of your growing babies first. Try to rest and do absolutely nothing for at least one hour every day.
  • Talk to your friends, partner, family and other moms of multiples about your concerns – this will help relieve some of your stress. It’s also handy to join a support group.
  • Knowledge is power. Do as much research as you can about expecting multiples and how to cope.
  • If you have other children, ask family members or friends to look after them every now and again, so you can have some relaxation time.
  • Get domestic help if you can afford it.
  • Ask family and friends to bring around small meals when they come to visit.
  • The South African Multiple Birth Association is a non-profit organisation that provides moral and practical support to parents of multiples. Visit www.samultiplebirth.co.za or call 0861 432 432 or 082 457 0799 for more information.

Nutrition and weight


  • The general guideline for weight gain during a singleton pregnancy is between eight and 20kg. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Patricia Okeyo advise women expecting multiples to stick to these guidelines.
  • “The starting point of a pregnancy is very important. Women should ensure that they’re already eating healthily when trying to fall pregnant, and not only once they find out they’re expecting,” says Dr Okeyo.
  • A healthy, balanced diet is very important during pregnancy. Rather opt for healthy snack options instead of a packet of chips when snacking in between meals.
  • Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and medications, as these substances can be harmful to your unborn baby.
  • Increase your intake of folic acid and calcium. Ask your doctor to recommend a calcium supplement.
  • It’s important that folic acid is taken one month before you get pregnant (if you plan) and throughout the first three months of your pregnancy, as it decreases neural tube defects in your baby.
  • Increase your protein intake.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins every day, as you require extra nutrients containing zinc, copper, vitamin C and vitamin D.

Did you know?

  • There are two types of twins; identical (monozygotic) and fraternal or non-identical (dizygotic).
  • Identical twins are formed when one fertilised egg divides into two halves and continues to develop into two separate babies. These babies will be the same sex, have the same eye and hair colour as well as the same blood type. Fraternal twins, on the other hand, result from two eggs that are fertilized by two separate sperms. This type of twinning is much more common and is the only type of twinning that is affected by genetics, race, maternal age and previous pregnancies. These babies are also not of the same sex and may not even look anything alike.
  • According to an article on www.twintalkblog.com “natural” fraternal twins only occur in about one in 60 births (1.7%) while the use of fertility treatments can increase your chances of having twins by as much as 20 to 25%. The likelihood of having identical twins has stayed the same and women only have about a 0.4% chance of falling pregnant with identical twins.
  • The term “supertwins” is often used for triplets, quadruplets and other higher-order multiple births. These babies can be either identical, fraternal or a combination of both. Triplets are quite rare and only about 30%, or one in 8000 triplets, is”natural” (conceived without the use of fertility treatments). The chances of having natural quadruplets are only about 6%.
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