Identical Triplets – What You Need to Know
- What Are Identical Triplets?
- What Are the Chances of Having Identical Triplets?
- How Are Identical Triplets Formed?
- How to Find That You Have Identical Triplets?
- Are The Identical Triplets Exactly The Same?
- How Can You Differentiate Between Identical Triplets?
- Risk Factors of Having Identical Triplets
- Parenting Tips for Identical Triplets
The odds of giving birth to identical triplets are rare, but it is possible. Getting pregnant is an overwhelming feeling. You feel nervous and happy at the same time. But if you find out that you are having triplets, no doubt, you will be freaked out and super excited in that same second. Identical siblings, also known as monozygotic triplets, share the same genetic blueprint and develop within the womb simultaneously. Read this article to understand better about identical triplets.
What Are Identical Triplets?
Triplets refer to carrying three babies in the womb during a single pregnancy. When the three babies look perfectly alike, they are called identical triplets. Identical triplets, an exceptional occurrence, involve the birth of three siblings sharing the same genetic heritage. These rare siblings, also known as monozygotic triplets, offer a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of human genetics and growth.
What Are the Chances of Having Identical Triplets?
The chances of giving birth to identical triplets are extremely rare, almost one in a million. But the chances of conceiving triplets can be higher with the use of fertility drugs or other assisted reproduction facilities like in-vitro fertilisation.
How Are Identical Triplets Formed?
Triplets are generally conceived as a result of any kind of assisted reproduction facility like in-vitro, IUI or ICSI. Although rare, in some cases, women also get pregnant with triplets naturally.
1. The Early Stages
In medical terms, identical triplets, also called ‘monozygotic’, start their journey as a single fertilized egg. During the earliest stages of development, the zygote undergoes a miraculous division into three separate entities, each destined to grow into a distinct individual.
2. The Enigma of Multiplicity
While the formation of identical triplets is primarily driven by genetic factors, the timing and manner of the division can be influenced by various factors like medication, some of which remain a subject of ongoing scientific inquiry.
3. Factors Influencing Genetics
Monozygotic triplets or identical triplets are always of the same gender and have the same general DNA characteristics. The surprising bond they share goes beyond genetics, be it shared experiences, memories, or an inherent understanding between the three often astonishes people.
You may also get this question, ‘Are triplets always identical’? Well, no, it is not always the case. In the case of trizygotic triplets, each foetus is formed from a separate zygote or sperm-egg combination, and the babies are not identical but share similar genetics, just like any siblings.
Completely monozygotic triplets are very rare, almost one in 100,000 live births! Sometimes monozygotic triplets are actually quadruplets, wherein one embryo gets absorbed or vanishes. A monozygotic triplet pregnancy carries a risk of the shared placenta, transfusion syndrome, preeclampsia, and preterm labour.
How to Find That You Have Identical Triplets?
It’s quite difficult to know whether you have conceived triplets in the early stage of pregnancy. However, exaggerated pregnancy symptoms like extreme nausea, fatigue, protrusion of the belly much earlier than expected, etc., will all enhance your suspicion of multiple pregnancies. An ultrasound during the first trimester will confirm if you are pregnant with triplets, and it might not be clear whether the triplets are identical at this stage of pregnancy. If an ultrasound reveals that the triplets share the same placenta, it is a definitive sign that the triplets are identical. However, it might be difficult to tell the exact structure of the placenta as separate placentas may also fuse together and appear to be one!
Are The Identical Triplets Exactly The Same?
Identical triplets are formed when a single fertilised egg evenly splits into three separate zygotes immediately after fertilisation. Another possibility is when the single fertilised egg splits into two, and then one of the two again splits into two separate zygotes. In the case of identical triplets, all three babies share the same DNA, gender, characteristics and features. That means they look exactly the same!
How Can You Differentiate Between Identical Triplets?
Well, here comes the tricky part! It’s actually quite difficult to differentiate between identical triplets. Even the parents get confused and cannot determine which baby is which. Parents of newborns smartly follow some tricks to avoid confusion. Some common strategies include tying a different coloured ribbon on each tiny newborn or dressing each baby in a different coloured dress. Some parents even paint one little toenail of each baby with a different colour.
Risk Factors of Having Identical Triplets
The happiness and challenges of a single new borne are commonly known to us. However, in the case of triplets, the happiness is tripled, and so are the challenges.
a) Risks for Mother
The metabolic stress of conceiving triplets will be considerably high for the mother. As the pregnancy progresses, the stress level and risks also increase. The risk factors include:
- Premature labour and delivery
- Hypertension and preeclampsia
- Placenta praevia
- Antepartum haemorrhage
- Post-partum haemorrhage
- Gestational diabetes
- C-section delivery, which includes all the associated risks of abdominal surgery, infection, bleeding and delayed healing and pain.
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss (in some cases).
b) Risks for Identical Triplets
Triplet conception is equally risky for the babies as it is for the mother. The associated risks include:
- Higher chances of having congenital abnormalities
- Premature delivery, most of the triplets are born before 34 weeks of gestation
- Low weight at birth; mostly, each of the triplets weighs around 1.5 kg at birth
- Higher risk of infections at birth
- Cerebral palsy
- Due to premature birth, the babies may have underdeveloped lungs and immature respiratory function, which can cause breathing and circulation difficulties
- Delay in the overall cognitive development of the babies
- Transfusion syndrome in between the identical triplets
Parenting Tips for Identical Triplets
Taking care of triplets in the initial days can be much more difficult than we imagine, but it will certainly improve with time. Here are some tips for caring for your three little ones:
1. Get as Much Help as Possible
First things first, it is important to understand that you and your husband alone are not enough! The more helping hands better would be the situation. It would be great to accept help from either your parents or close family members. Do appoint a trustworthy and professionally trained helper so that you have someone trained in these tasks.
2. Set Up a Schedule and Try to Follow the Same
To avoid chaos:
- Establish a routine.
- Feed the babies on a schedule at the same time every day.
- Tuck the babies to bed for a nap at the same time every day.
It will be difficult to set up a routine in a day, but if you try consistently, it is possible.
Don’t be surprised when you cannot figure out which baby is which initially. So set a system of identification that everyone understands correctly. One of the easiest ways is to assign a colour to each baby and dress them in the same colour every day. Another one is to paint one little toenail of each baby in a different colour of pregnancy/baby-safe nail paint. This will help you avoid confusion as to addressing the children.
4. Get Some Fresh Air
However difficult it is to get the tiny tots ready for a walk, you must go out at least once in two days or, if possible, daily. Fresh air will help the babies’ overall development and de-stress your body!
If you are blessed with identical triplets, consider yourself lucky! While genetics provide a foundation, the influence of environment, upbringing, and personal choices can shape their distinct individualities. Create as many memories as possible and make the most of these moments when you get to spend time with your little ones.
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