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Twins and Premature Birth

Most births of single babies happen at 39 weeks. But the average length of a twin pregnancy is 35 weeks.

Babies that are low birth weight tend to weigh less than 5 pounds. This increases their risk for many major health problems.

Some problems are brief, such as:

  • Jaundice

  • Anemia

  • Trouble breathing

Others have lasting effects, such as:

  • Constant respiratory problems

  • Intellectual disability

  • Cerebral palsy

  • Vision and hearing loss

  • Feeding problems

To lower the chance of early births, women who are pregnant with twins usually see their healthcare providers more often. They also are watched for signs of preterm labor. Their healthcare providers may treat preterm labor with bed rest and medicines to stop contractions. Near the 20th week of pregnancy, healthcare providers may recommend regular ultrasounds to check the growth rate of the twins to make sure they are growing at about the same rate. During the third trimester, the healthcare provider may suggest a nonstress test or a biophysical profile (nonstress test with a weekly ultrasound). This will help check the well-being of the twins.

If you're carrying twins, closely follow your healthcare provider's advice about diet, exercise, and rest. Avoid harmful things, such as tobacco smoke and alcohol. Prenatal care is important. Make sure you keep all your prenatal appointments. Learn the symptoms and signs of preterm labor, and what to do if you experience them. Do all you can to lessen your risk of having your babies too soon.

Medical Reviewers:

  • Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
  • Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
  • Irina Burd MD PhD