If one baby is a dream come true, then two must be perfection! Many parents hoping for more than one bundle of joy leave the conception up to chance, not knowing that there are many factors at play that can be influenced. Some are impossible to control, such as race and height, but others are easily adjustable, such as weight or diet.
1. Discontinue Using the Birth Control Pill
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s safe to assume you aren’t currently using birth control. However, if you are not already using it, going on the female birth control pill and then stopping shortly before trying to conceive has been known to help women trying to have twins. Your reproductive system will be knocked slightly off-kilter for your first couple of ovulation cycles, potentially elevating hormone stimulation and causing more eggs than usual to be released, greatly increasing chances of a fraternal pregnancy.
If you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to conceive while taking the female birth control pill you also have a greater chance of having twins. However, becoming pregnant while on the pill is extremely unlikely after all, it is birth control!
A common method of influencing a twin pregnancy is taking the pill, but inconsistently, so that your hormones are altered in a way that increases the likelihood of twins. Before you play around with your birth control and your hormones, however, make sure to speak with a licensed professional to make sure that this is a safe course of action.
2. Adjust Your Diet
Consumption of yams and sweet potatoes are believed to positively affect a mother's chances of conceiving twins, based on a study of the very heavily twin-populated Yoruba tribe in West Africa. This is due to the yam peel containing a chemical called cassava that leads to extremely high levels of ovulation. Supplements may help as well, especially folic acid ones. Start taking a folic acid supplement roughly a month before you start trying to conceive.
Dairy is also believed to play a large role in twin conception as well, though some sources find this controversial. That being said, a study by Dr. Gary Steinman of Long Island Jewish Medical Center found that women who consume dairy are five times as likely to have twins as women who do not, and there is no evidence that disproves his findings.
3. Adjust Your Partner’s Diet
It’s not just your diet that affects your chances of conceiving twins; your partner’s eating habits play a role as well! Zinc is known to increase the production and mobility of sperm, which increases your odds of having twins, especially fraternal ones. Leafy green vegetables are a fantastic source of zinc, as are bread, wheat germ, cereals, seeds, and even oysters.
4. Conceive While Breastfeeding
It's a common myth that it's impossible to become pregnant while breastfeeding. This is false information, as it is perfectly possible to conceive while breastfeeding. In fact, a study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine found that breastfeeding mothers were more than ten times more likely to conceive identical twins than average! This is due to your body creating a higher amount of prolactin while lactating.
5. Already Have Children
This is just a matter of numbers! The more times you conceive, the likelier you are to eventually hit the twin jackpot. Additionally, women with more than one child already are statistically likelier to conceive twins than women with no children.
6. Gain Weight (or Height)
In 2005 a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology discovered that maternal BMI affects the conception of twins. After studying more than 50,000 pregnancies they found that mothers with a BMI of 30+ were far more likely to have fraternal twins. That being said, it should be noted that a BMI of thirty or more is considered obese and may lead to significant health problems.
The study also found that the taller a woman was, the likelier she was to conceive twins. Sadly, height is not something you can control, but it may be a small comfort to know that, although it is a factor, height was not found to affect twin conception nearly as much as weight.
7. What Race Are You?
Like height, we can’t change our heritage. However, it helps to know which races are known to produce the most twins, and which are less likely. African and European women are far more likely to produce twins than average, while the odds for Asian and Hispanic women are far less than average.
8. Come From a Family of Twins
Again, we can’t control our genetics, but if you come from a family with a history of fraternal twins, you are more likely to conceive fraternal twins as well.
Note that while there is a "twin gene" that has been known to be passed down through families, this gene only affects the mother. Even if your partner is a twin, with twin parents and twin grandparents, your likelihood of conceiving twins together will not be affected.
9. Wait until you’re Older
A 2013 study in the Journal of Mid-Life Health found women over thirty-five are more likely to give birth to twins. This is because they produce more follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), which results in a higher number of eggs released during ovulation, in turn increasing chances of a fraternal pregnancy.
Women over the age of forty-five are even more likely to conceive twins, the likelihood clocking in at a whopping 17 percent! Unfortunately, it is often difficult for women to conceive later in life. Serious complications during pregnancy are a potential problem as well.
However, if you are capable of having a healthy pregnancy past the age of thirty-five or forty-five, you are much more likely to have twins than if you were younger.
10. See a Fertility Specialist
Speaking with a fertility specialist is always a good move if you’re trying to influence the number of children you conceive. There are many (safe and legal) prescribed drugs that can assist with multiple pregnancies. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is also an option, particularly when it comes to raising the chances of conceiving identical twins. A fertility specialist should never be discounted when it comes to finding just the right treatment.
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to having twins. Although there’s nothing you can do to control your height, race, or genetics, there are plenty of things that you can easily influence.
If you’re on the female birth control pill, go off it, or play with your dose with a licensed professional’s agreement, of course! Adjust your diet, and/or your partner’s diet, to include ingredients and supplements beneficial to twin conception.
Consider the fact that older women and/or women with high BMIs are likelier to have twins, though this may lead to other pregnancy complications. If you’re breastfeeding, consider this a good time to try conceiving. And, if all else fails, or if you just have questions, speak with a fertility specialist.
Do you have twins of your own (or know someone who does) and want to give advice? Questions? Thoughts? Don’t forget to leave a comment below!