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Top 10 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Having Twins

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Updated May 29, 2014

Many people wonder what it takes to have twins, triplets or more. While having multiples is sometimes an act of fate, parents of multiples say some common factors increased their chances of conceiving them. Most of these are not scientifically proven but rooted more in tradition or personal experience. The following are some influences readers say led to their bigger broods. Have thoughts on why you had multiples? Share them with us.

Keep in mind, too, that if you’re hoping to have multiples, you should be aware of the risks and complications associated with a multiple pregnancy including preeclampsia and prematurity.

1. Have a History

Twin baby boys
Caroline Purser/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Do twins run in your family? If you have a mother, brother, sister, uncle or long lost cousin with multiples, you may wonder if you'll have them too. Sometimes twinning is hereditary, it's true. However, only fraternal (dizygotic twins are influenced by heredity, and then only in some cases. If your mother or maternal grandmother was or had fraternal twins, you might have inherited a gene for hyperovulation, increasing your chances of conceiving twins also.

2. Grow or Gain Weight

A study published by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology correlates the rise in multiple birth rates with rising rates of obesity. Research found that mothers with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higer were significantly more likely to have twins. Again, this statistic only holds true for fraternal (dizygotic) twins. The research also showed that women of above-average height were also more likely to have multiples.

3. Grow Up: Wait Until You're Older

Older mothers are more likely to conceive twins than their younger counterparts. It's thought that the body accelerates ovulation as the biological clock starts ticking faster. Almost twenty percent of mothers who give birth over the age of 45 have multiples. However, the risks also increase; older mothers have a higher rate of miscarriage and are more likely to experience problems such as gestational diabetes during their pregnancy; in addition, their babies are at higher risk for chromosomal abnormalities.

4. Have More Twins

Once you have had a multiple pregnancy, you are significantly more likely to conceive -- and deliver -- twins again! Some estimates suggest that mothers of twins are four times more likely to have twins again than a woman who has never been pregnant, or who only had a singleton.

5. Diet: Yams & Dairy

No one is quite sure why, but the Yoruba tribe in West Africa has the highest rate of twinning in the world. A study concluded that the mother's diet was the cause, being high in cassava, a type of yam or sweet potato. The peelings of this vegetable are thought to contain a chemical that causes hyperovulation. In addition, a 2006 study found that women who consume dairy are five times as likely to have twins.

6. Seek Fertility Assistance

Reproductive technology has dramatically increased the multiple birth rate. Drugs that stimualate ovulation can lead to a multiple pregnancy, but multiples can also result from invitro fertilization. It's not just that multiple embryos are implanted in the mother, but there is also an unexplained increase in the number of monozygotic twins among IVF patients. No ethical doctor would provide treatment if it wasn't warranted, so fertility assistance should only be sought out when necessary.

7. Have A Big Family

The more kids you have, the more likely you are to conceive twins in a subsequent pregnancy. No one knows the magic limit that triggers a multiple pregnancy, so you'll just have to keep trying until it happens.

8. Conceive While Breastfeeding

Most people think that you can't get pregnant while breastfeeding, that the process of lactating keeps a woman from ovulating. However, plenty of mothers of twins disagree with that idea. Some research has supported the theory that the chance of twins or multiples is increased if a woman conceives while breastfeeding. For example, Dr. Gary Steinman claims that women who become pregnant while breastfeeding are nine times more likely to conceive twins than women who are not breastfeeding at the time of conception. 

9. Get Pregnant On the Pill

Birth control pills are usually thought to be 99.9 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. However, that .01 percent might results in a double whammy -- multiples. Sometimes pregnancy occurs when the pill isn't taken consistently; in other cases, the hormonal mix of a particular drug type simply doesn't provide enough coverage to completely prevent ovulation. In either case, playing around with hormones can lead to hyperovulation, increasing the chances of multiples.

10. Just Get Lucky!

Many parents of multiples don't meet any of the classic criteria, yet find themselves doubly blessed. Monozygotic twins are particularly mysterious; no one is exactly certain what causes an egg to split after conception, producing identical twins. The bottom line is that there truly isn't a whole lot an individual can do to influence their chances of having twins; sometimes you just get lucky!
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