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Risks of Having Multiples

By: Crystal Cook

A woman’s body is made to carry children. The question is, how many?

A woman’s body is made to carry children. The question is, how many? If we look to nature, we find the chance of conceiving natural quadruplets is 1 in 730,000. Now, with fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization, it is more common.

Does nature give us the magic number?

Any pregnancy has inherent risks, but when there are three or more fetuses, those risks increase. With each additional life vying for precious nutrients and room to grow, there oftentimes aren’t enough, leaving both mother and babies vulnerable.

Possible pregnancy complications with multiples include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm labor
  • Preclampsia
  • Uterine bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Excess amniotic fluid
  • Placenta abruptio/placenta previa
  • Complications from cesarean birth

Infant complications with multiples include:

  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Premature birth
  • Immature organ development
  • Mental retardation
  • Developmental/learning disabilities
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Lung/intestinal issues
  • Blindness/deafness
  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Death

Women who give birth to multiples are twice as likely to suffer from gestational diabetes, and the risk of heart attack during pregnancy is increased with each additional fetus. As the uterus grows, the expectant mother may experience breathing difficulties.

Once born, the tiny newborns are placed into intensive care, and their conditions are monitored closely. All multiple pregnancies result in premature delivery; sometimes the infants are simply too small to survive.

Many multiple pregnancies have the expected outcome: beautiful, healthy babies. Every mother needs to be aware of the risks as well as the rewards of having multiple births before undergoing such a massive and life-changing undertaking.

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