Multiple Gestation

Last Updated: March 28, 2019

Definition - What does Multiple Gestation mean?

Multiple gestation is the experience of carrying two or more fetuses in one pregnancy. While it is possible for multiple gestations to occur naturally, the odds increase dramatically with fertility drugs and assisted reproductive technology (ART).

Multiple gestation is also called multiple pregnancy.

FertilitySmarts explains Multiple Gestation

There are two types of multiple gestation:

  • The release of more than one egg per cycle, resulting in multiple embryos and fraternal twins or triplets (dizygotic).
  • The splitting of a single fertilized egg, resulting in identical twins (monozygotic).

These circumstances can be caused by:

  • Natural biological circumstances
  • Fertility drugs, including ovulation induction (OI) medication, causing the release of multiple eggs from the ovaries
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF), in which multiple embryos are transferred into the uterus

The risk of pregnancy increases with each multiple. While women pregnant with twins typically experience a pregnancy similar to a woman pregnant with a singleton, a high-order pregnancy, (3 or more fetuses), can greatly impact the chances of complications. These chances increase with each additional fetus present. The most common complications include:

  • Preterm delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Behavioral disabilities
  • Miscarriage

Additionally, carrying a multiple gestation pregnancy can increase the chance of health complications for the mother, including:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Labor and delivery complications
  • Higher risk of postpartum depression

In circumstances of high order multiples, selective reduction may be advised to limit the chance of risk to mother and fetuses.

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