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Twice as nice or double the trouble

By Morenike Taire, Woman Editor

MOST people are fascinated with twins and other multiple births and when they arrive, everyone around is overwhelmed with joy.

Well, most people. We all have heard stories of fathers of twins and triplets bailing out when their bundles of joy arrive while only one was expected; or when there are already too many little mouths to feed.


A Mr. Egwilo, whose wife gave birth to triplets in Ogun state last year but who chose not to abscond, said he was dazed when he received the news of the arrival of three additional children. He said he later accepted the reality and resolved to face his new status as a father of five kids.

He said his situation now makes him understand better why some men run away when their wives are delivered of twins or triplets. The teacher stated that the responsibility of taking care of even one baby at a time was enormous.

“In those days, when I heard the news that a woman gave birth to triplets and the husband ran away, I would be angry. I would ask, why should a man run away because his wife gave birth? I now know how it feels because the demand is very high.

Myths, fables and superstitions

“The hospital alone will demand for so many things which will make the man run away or even collapse if he does not have a heart. But for me, I cannot run away because it is not my wife’s fault. So, I can’t leave her to bear the pain alone”.

Twin myths…There are also a lot of myths, fables and superstitions that go along with having twins. The Yorubas believe twins bring good luck and riches, though many do not appear to remember this when their wives give birth to twins.

People believe that, depending on how they are treated, twins can bring either fortune or misfortune to their families and communities. In some parts of the Ivory Coast, twins are also said to be able to stop the rain and are often called upon when there are manifestations or events and the weather turns inclement. In Guinea and in the Ivory Coast, when one twin is getting married, the other is also treated like the bride.

There was also a lot of infanticide going on in most of Nigeria until the 20th century, on account of twins being perceived as evil. Twins are also prevalent in Hausa country where they are believed to have special powers to pick up scorpions without being harmed.

Loving twins…Anyway, thanks to all the fascination and well beyond it, modern women are more enamored by the prospects of having twins now than ever. Since two kids have become the acceptable number, having twins would be just perfect for obvious reasons- saving you the trouble of two pregnancies, not to talk of having a permanent playmate for your child from the word go.

Needless to say, a life with twin children would be a life of endless fun, not least of all because of all the pranks. Women who have had twins and other multiple births however warn that it’s not as rosy as it might appear.

Caring for twins…From the very pregnancy, carrying twins means you will have to see the doctor more frequently. Needless to say, you will also put on a lot more weight, making getting back in shape more difficult.

Having twin babies can also be a nightmare, especially when their birth positions are different. They can be a nightmare to breastfeed as babies and feed later on; then think of the pile of laundry!

All however agree that they are worth the trouble.

Twins: Q & A

How are twins made?
There are a couple of ways that multiples are conceived: Multiple eggs are released or there is more than one ovulation. Both (or more) eggs are fertilized and you have fraternal twins. One egg is released but splits in two, resulting in identical twins. In cases of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), there are usually 3 or more fertilized eggs put back into the uterus. The rationale is that not all of these will implant, though sometimes they do.

Why do you need extra care for a twin pregnancy?
Once conceived you have a lot of possibilities on placentas, implantation locations, number of amniotic sacs. For example, you can have two babies, two placentas, and two sacs. You can have two babies one placenta and two sacs. It will be important to know exactly what you are dealing with, particularly when it comes to amniotic sacs. Surprises are not welcome.

Why is there a higher incidence of multiple births?
Multiple pregnancies are on the rise in recent years with more and more twins and other types of multiples being born. The majority of the reason for this rise is the increased use of fertility drugs.

How do you know you are having twins?
Some people find a rapid rate of grow in their uterus which leads some to suspect twins. Sometimes multiple heart beats are heard. Some women also find out when they have abnormally high levels on the AFP (alpha fetoprotein) test that multiples are on the way, since multiple babies would increase the levels of these hormones. It’s also sometimes possible to detect multiples with serial hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels in early pregnancy. About 3% of all twin pregnancies are undetected until birth.
It is possible to have an ultrasound without detecting the other baby.

What are the odds you’ll have twins?
There are reasons that may increase your chances of having twins, triplets or other multiples, with twins being the most likely to occur spontaneously. These include: your age, your family history of twinning and medications you are taking. Procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and others can increase the chances that you will have twins or other multiples. Not only do they increase the risk of dizygotic twins, but also there appears to be an increase in monozygotic or identical twins.

Some people claim that there are other things you can do to have twins such as eating more yams (There is a theory that it is a certain chemical in the yams that helps the women in certain cultures have more twins); and breastfeeding while pregnant (This is said to be caused by the depletion of calcium in your system while nursing and its effect on the egg during conception and ovulation). Welcome to conjecture-land.


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