Naturally conceived twins occur in about 1 out of every 89 births. Under normal circumstances, your odds of conceiving twins are slim. Taking fertility medications or undergoing a procedure like IVF can increase your chances of conceiving twins, but you may be curious if there is anything you can do to naturally increase your chances of having twins.
How are twins conceived?
Most twins are fraternal. Fraternal twins develop from two separate eggs. Identical twins are rare and happen as a result of just one egg which splits sometime in early pregnancy. Fraternal twins are conceived when two eggs are released during ovulation whereas identical twins are more of a random fluke.
Can you increase your chances of having twins?
Yes, there are some things that will increase your chances of having twins, but some of these things are really out of your control. Having a family history of twins will increase your chances of having twins. This is true if you have a family history of twins, meaning someone on your mother’s side or father’s side of the family has had twins, especially if they had fraternal twins. If your partner has twins in his family, it doesn’t help you any. The reason being is that there may be some genetic component that may cause you to produce more than one egg during ovulation. This “twin gene” may be passed down from your parents to you. Identical twins are not thought to be hereditary.
Other factors that may affect your chances of having twins are your ethnicity and your age. African American women are more likely to conceive twins than Caucasian women. And, Asian women have a lower chance of conceiving twins. Twins are also more common in older women.
Things you can do to naturally increase your chances of having twins:
Take a folic acid supplement: There have been a few studies on the link between folic acid and conceiving twins. One Australian study found that women who took folic acid before they got pregnant were more likely to conceive twins. In fact, according to this study, you may have a 40% or greater chance of conceiving twins if you take folic acid while you are trying to conceive. Some other studies have shown contradictory results making it hard to say for sure if folic acid actually increases your odds of conceiving twins. Nevertheless, folic acid also helps to prevent neural tube defects so it is a good idea to take a folic acid supplement (or a multi vitamin with folic acid) even if you aren’t trying to conceive twins.
Gain weight: A study published in the March 2005 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who were overweight had a higher chance of having twins. Women who were tall also had a higher chance of having twins.
Eat dairy products: According to a recent study by Dr. Gary Steinman, a physician at Long Island Jewish Medical Center who is well known for research on multiple birth pregnancies, women who eat dairy are five times more likely to conceive twins than women who don’t. Dr. Steinman’s study compared women who ate a regular diet with vegan women and vegetarian women who consumed dairy products. Vegans appear to be less likely to conceive twins according to the study. But, it may not be so much that consuming dairy increases your chances of having twins; but rather, that consuming milk or other dairy products from growth hormone treated cows increases your chances of having twins.
Continue breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding and would like to conceive twins, you may want to hold off on weaning your little one. According to one twin study, women who were breastfeeding when they conceived were nine times more likely to conceive twins than women who are were not breastfeeding.
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