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While caring for one baby is an undertaking in and of itself, some people hope to take on the challenge of multiples. For a lucky 3 percent of conceiving couples each year, per Baby Center, twins are a reality.
Many hopeful Moms- and Dads-to-be wonder when they’re trying to conceive if there are any tricks they can use to try to up the odds of having two babies. There actually are! Here are some things to look into if you’re hoping to have two bundles of joy:
- Order of birth
- Herbal remedies
- Birth control
- Dairy consumption
- Mother’s milk
While it was once believed that twin pregnancies could only occur to couples who carried a genetic predisposition for them, we now know that anyone can have twins. However, the type of twins is what matters. Anyone can have identical twins. In these pregnancies, the egg splits early in pregnancy and forms two babies that are made from the exact same DNA sequence. These babies share the same sac in utero.
While fraternal twins can technically happen to anyone as well, it’s more common in women that hyper-ovulate. This just means they ovulate more than one time per cycle. In some cases, women ovulate more than one time sequentially, but in other cases they release more than one egg at the same time. This leaves room for the fertilization of both eggs. When that happens, each one develops within its own sac in the womb. Hyper-ovulation typically is hereditary, so fraternal twins usually run in the mother’s side of the family.
Order of Birth
Women who have at least four children significantly increase their chance of having twins following such. Now, that doesn’t mean couples who don’t desire to have five, six, seven or more children should start having them just in the pursuit of twins. But if you’re planning a big family, rest assured your chances of become parents to a dynamic duo get stronger every time.
There are several herbs and supplements that have long been proclaimed as helpful to increasing the odds of twin conception. Some of them include:
- Cassava root
- Maca root
- Wild yams
- Soy isoflavones
Cassava root stems from the woody shrub, or tuber, which is native to South America, more specifically in Brazil. The British Broadcasting Channel notes Nigeria has the highest rate of twin pregnancies in the world. The skin of the this tuber — often referred to as yucca root — contains gonadotrophins, which are known to boost ovulation, thereby boosting the chance of twin pregnancies. Maca root, soy isoflavones, and wild yams are thought to work much the same way by increasing progesterone levels in women. All of these supplements can be consumed in capsule form.
Some women have claimed that high doses of magnesium, zinc and calcium were to credit for their twin conception, too. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim, but the extra minerals won’t hurt. While many women may be eager to test out supplements and herbs that are readily available to them, none of them should be used without first consulting your doctor or midwife. There are plenty of herbs that carry potentially dangerous side effects. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s completely safe.
You read that right! Some forms of contraception can actually boost the odds of a twin pregnancy. The catch? It’s not guaranteed and it may only help initially after you quit using birth control when your body is more likely to hyper-ovulate.
Women who regularly consume adequate amounts of folate are more likely to conceive twin pregnancies. The Journal of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology reported on the results of one study in which women who consumed folic acid were 40 percent more likely to become pregnant with twins than those who didn’t. Take note that methylfolate and folic acid are not the same thing. Folic acid is widely prescribed for pregnancy and is the synthetic form of folate — which is far preferable and easier for the body to synthesize and absorb, thereby increasing its bioavailability.
Drink More Milk
Dairy products have been linked to an increased likelihood of having twins in some studies. The exact causes aren’t fully understood, but it’s possible that the added hormone in dairy products give moms-to-be an added boost of ovulation-friendly hormones. Science Blog notes that in one study comparing women with varying dietary styles, those who didn’t consume milk had one-fifth the rate of twin pregnancies as those who did. Scientifically, this is correlation more so than causation. The same study also reports insulin-like growth factor, commonly found in cow’s milk, may increase the likelihood of twins.
Studies have shown twin pregnancies occur more often to women who are breastfeeding at the time of conception. A studied carried out by Dr. Steinman of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System reports twin conception is nine times as likely to occur in women who are breastfeeding when they get pregnant than in those who are not.
Last but not least, in vitro fertilization can significantly increase the odds of having twins, but it’s not completely black and white. IVF increases the chance of multiples overall, so short of only implanted two fertilized eggs, there is a chance of having triples, quadruplets, and so on. In addition, IVF is a costly procedure.
There you have it — a helpful handful of tips for conceiving not one, but two, babies. With some solid street cred and a good bit of science to back them up, the theories discussed above may or may not help you conceive twins. The good news is, parents aiming for two-for-one parenting deals have nothing to lose by trying.