When Logan and William were born, Logan weighed 6.67lbs at birth, while William weighed 7.02lbs. I thought they were small. Like really small. Like any other baby, you could fit them at the palm of your hands, but in two weeks, Logan was 7.71, above his brother, who had 7.45. That means Logan was born lighter but caught up quickly. To your surprise, they weren’t underweight, at least for twins, which was a relief for my wife and me. They were what’s considered average weight.
According to research carried out by Luke et al. in 1991, average twins, in comparison to singletons, are born underweight, and their gestational age is also shorter. At some point, the low weight may be beneficial to the twins but has many shortcomings too. The problem is all over the world, but more common in developing countries. Typically, twins’ weights vary at birth. There is, however, the recommended average weight of newborn twins as advised by researchers.
Who is Mostly Born Underweight, Twins or Singletons baby?
Most twins are born underweight and probably with some complications. Therefore, if you find your child’s birth weight low, it should not be a big deal. Your doctor has somewhere safe to keep your little angels so that they may grow to the recommended weight. As mentioned, William, our Curious Bill, and Logan, our Gentle Bull, were born in the right weights, with William being the heaviest.
Typically, the overall average weight of newborn twins combined will exceed the weight of singleton during birth. Interestingly, a female singleton infant weight is likely to be low compared to one of the twin baby boys’ weight. If the infant’s mother is a smoker, drug addict, or takes illicit brews, her child is likely to be underweight, way below the twin infants’ weight.
Who is An Underweight Twin?
For your information, under normal birth (37 weeks and above), a twin is born with around 2.5 kilograms. Doctors consider weights way below this as underweight. But, like in other things, twins aren’t born equal in terms of weight. It’s common for one child to be heavier than the other, which was the case with William and Logan.
The opposite is, however, also true. Maternal obesity is common in cases of singleton gestation as compared to twins’ gestation. On the same, obesity multiplies the preterm birth risks despite the plurality. Whether you are obese during pregnancy or not, these are the expected results.
I will show you the recommended twin birthweight later in this post and adjust twins’ weight before they attain the gestational age. I will add what no single doctor will teach you about twins’ birth weights, plus other crucial information on babies’ growth patterns.
Why Twins Are Born Underweight
The leading cause of low birth weight among twins is premature birth: the twins born before week 37 of gestation. Infants born 36 weeks or earlier are likely to have less birth weight than their counterparts.
As seen earlier, multiple births come with low birth weights, which come with increased risk to the newborn. Of course, there are some reasons. For instance, because they are born early, they don’t spend a lot of time in their mother’s womb, where babies add most of their birth weight. Naturally, they will be smaller and weigh less. Other reasons include:
- Maternal and paternal age – if a soon to be a mother is over 50s or under 15, their little one is likely to be born underweight.
- Mother’s health – if you come from lower socioeconomic status, you are likely to miss standard pregnancy nutrition, have pregnancy complications, or even miss adequate prenatal care.
- Illicit brews and alcohol – if you happen to consume alcohol, smoke, and use illicit drugs, you will most probably give birth to underweight twins.
- Infections, especially in the uterus, may end up lowering your twin’s birth weight drastically. Infections could be anything from sexually transmitted diseases like Aids, STI, and cytomegalovirus, and rubella.
- Issues with the placenta further raise the problem – the placenta supplies your twins with nutrients, water and oxygen, and takes away waste products from the fetuses. When the placenta fails to do either of these appropriately, the twins will automatically be underweight during birth.
- Exposure to lead or extreme air pollution. Lead exposure is fatal to the fetuses and may result in spontaneous abortion.
- Abuse – moms who are abused during pregnancy, be it sexual, physical, emotional, or otherwise, usually end up with underweight babies. Sometimes, it tragically ends in miscarriages. You must take care of the mother of your kids to avoid disappointment. This applies whether she is pregnant or not.
But if you find your child with the recommended weight like our little angels in the two sacks in my lovely wife’s womb, then you should call yourselves the blessed ones.
Multiple Births – Triplets and Quadruplets – Weights
Blessings might exceed your imagination in instances where the mother carries triplets or even quadruplets. In such a situation, the infants born have increased chances of being underweight compared to singleton or twins. As such, if, after an ultrasound, your doctor confirms you have multiple twins, there are measures you need to take to prevent underweight births.
Can low birthweight be prevented?
- Have a longer gestation period
Among the best ways to prevent low birth weight for your tots is ensuring they are born as close as possible to full term. That is, they should at least be 37 weeks during birth. Your doctor has to clear you to go this far into the pregnancy. The longer your little ones stay in their mother’s tummy, the higher the chances they will have the right weight when they are born. This applies to quads and singletons as well.
- Go for prenatal care
The mothers during pregnancies are advised to visit the clinic for prenatal care. Mothers require more visits when pregnant with twins than when carrying a singleton. This is mainly because you need closer monitoring since multiple pregnancies pose more health risks. When you are checked regularly, your doctor can spot any problems early and arrest the situation before it escalates. You may also need more tests, such as ultrasounds to check on each baby, their progress, and the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb. Visits could mean as often as each week during the first and second trimester and even more frequently during the third.
- Eat a healthy diet
Maternal nutrition and health extensively link to fetal development, which means you need to take it a notch higher with your meals and nutrition. Besides the vitamins given by your doctor, you must increase your calorie intake to add a healthy weight and help your little ones add weight.
During the Curious Bill and the Gentle Bull’s pregnancy, our doctor advised my wife to eat a healthy diet and add up to two times the number of calories she ate each day. This was not the case for our first two babies. My wife ate differently during the two pregnancies; the first and the second girl. But not as much as she consumed during the twin’s pregnancy.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and drugs
My wife and I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, but during her pregnancy, the doctor obviously recommended she keeps off until the boys were born. Illicit drugs and cigarettes are out of the question for us as they should be for any other soon-to-be mom.
They contribute to low fetal development and result in intrauterine retardation growth (IUGR) and other complications. Premature babies with IUGR are underweight, tiny, and physically immature. In case the twins complete their term, they end up being weak, and I know this is not what you want, right?
Birthweight data: facts you should know
- Girls’ pair’s weight tends to vary from boys’ weights. Since our twins’ birth, I have observed several studies that back this, both done in the United States, others outside the US.
- Your twin birth weight may have low birth weight even if the gestation period is full-term – over 37 weeks.
- Many twin gestation term is preterm
- Anemia and preeclampsia are often in twins pregnancies
- Twins’ average birth weight tends to be low by 0.7 kilograms compared to the singletons.
- Results at times vary for dizygotic or monozygotic twins. The twin’s gestation is also two to three weeks shorter compared to the singletons.
- Drug users or alcoholic women tend to give birth to underweight babies, whether they have twins or singletons.
- A woman may engage in activities that restrict weight gain, but this is highly discouraged. Follow your doctor’s advice on how much weight you should add to prevent hypertension, dietary issues, and other problems.
- Low weight on twin pregnancies increases the perinatal mortality rate for multiples.
Why should Birth Weight be a Concern?
Your twins may be very healthy even when they are underweight at birth. On the contrary, being underweight might be a significant problem. For that reason, you should attend all medical checkups while pregnant to avoid any surprises after a nine-month wait.
Low birth weight comes with health issues to the newborn twins, which include:
- Brain bleeding – the bleeding may stop at some point in life, but if it fails, the doctor inserts a tube in the baby’s brain to drain the fluid. If not drained, the child’s brain may block.
- Breathing issues – happens when the newborn twins lack surfactant, a protein that keeps the baby’s small air sacs from collapsing. It is treated by boosting surfactant, which helps the affected baby breathe easily.
- Retinopathy of prematurity – a disease that affects babies born underweight.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis – intestines complications later in life, where the infected child may swell in the belly, leading to feeding problems.
The Relationship between Gestation Length and Low Birth Weight
Now here is what you have been waiting for. Twins born preterm (below 37 weeks) are said to have low birth weight compared to singletons who are around 5 pounds at birth (born between 39-40 weeks). The twins who spend fewer weeks in the uterus tend to weigh less than a twin that takes either 37 or 38 weeks.
Even though the second twin may be born a few minutes from the first, one of the twins weighs more than the other, usually the first to leave the womb. I found that true from our twin’s birth weight. If you already have twins, did you have the same experience? In case you expect a twin, wait and see if that applies to you.
The Relationship between Gestation Length and Obesity
My wife’s weight changed a lot throughout the pregnancy. She added her weights so well throughout the twin’s pregnancy, which is probably why the twins weren’t underweight. But, this is not always the case. So, “How does obesity affect the gestation length of twins”?
In some instances, as research confirms, obesity before pregnancy results in fraternal twins. I said in some instances, as my wife wasn’t obese.
What Should You Do To Ensure You Have The Ideal Weight To Carry Twins?
The solution to almost all of these problems is visiting your doctor. For instance, we always consulted our doctor whenever we noticed something unusual with my wife’s weight. We also asked a lot of questions whenever we weren’t sure about the boy’s weight.
The ideal birth weight for newborn twins is typically less compared to the weight of singletons. To ensure your wife gives birth to average weight twins, she should eat three times the number of calories a woman carrying a singleton eats. This way, you will protect your newborn twins from the many dangers that come with underweight births.