Useful Multiple Births Definitions

Now that you are pregnant with multiples, you will be hearing many different terms, diagnoses, or ‘name calling’ by the healthcare professionals, local support chapter, perhaps in your multiple-birth prenatal class or in the resources you have been reading and researching. We have included a list of multiple births definitions and the most commonly used names and phrases you might hear.  Whenever you have not clearly understand any of the feedback you have received, don’t be shy.  Speak up and ask for clarification on anything and everything you don’t understand.

Multiple Births Definition:

Amnion:
Inner lining of sac containing the developing fetus.

Amniocentesis:
Removal of a portion of amniotic fluid, either to test for chromosomal abnormalities that could indicate Down Syndrome or other disorders, or to relieve polyhydromnios.

Cesarean Section (C-section):
Surgical method of childbirth in which a woman’s abdomen and uterus are incised and the baby is delivered transabdominally.

Chorion:
Outer lining of sac containing the developing fetus.

Conjoined Twins:
Monozygotic twins where separation into two individuals is incomplete so their bodies are joined together at some point.

Cryptophasia: 
The secret language of twins.

Diamniotic Twins:
Twins who have developed in separate amniotic sacs. These twins may be either dizygotic or monozygotic.

Dichorionic Twins:
Twins who have developed in separate chorionic sacs. These twins may be either dizygotic or monozygotic.

Dizygotic (Or dizygous) Twins:
Twins formed from two separate zygotes. Commonly known as “fraternal twins.”

Embryo:
The developing baby during the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

Embryo Reduction:
See Fetal Reduction.

Epidural:
Anesthetic injected in a space at the base of the spinal cord.

Fetal Reduction:
The reduction of the number of viable fetuses/embryos in a multiple pregnancy (usually within a higher order multiple pregnancy) by medical intervention.

Fetus Papyraceous:
A fetus which dies in the second trimester of pregnancy and becomes compressed and parchment-like.

Fraternal Twins:
See Dizygotic Twins.

GIFT:
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer – assisted conception method.

Higher Order Multiples:
Triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets or more.

Identical Twins:
See monozygotic twins.

IVF:
In vitro fertilization and embryo transfer – assisted conception method.

Intrauterine Growth Retardation:
Impeded or delayed fetal development and maturation due to genetic factors, maternal disease or fetal malnutrition caused by placental insufficiency.

Monoamniotic Twins:
Twins who have developed in a single amniotic sac. These twins are always monozygotic.

Monochorionic Twins:
Twins who have developed in a single chorionic sac. These twins are always monozygotic.

Monozygotic (or monozygous) twins:
Twins formed from a single zygote. Commonly known as “identical twins.”

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction:
See Fetal Reduction.

Multiple Pregnancy:
A pregnancy with more than one fetus.

Neonatal Death:
A death within the first four weeks after delivery.

Neonatal Intensive-care Unit (NICU):
Hospital unit containing special equipment for the management and care of premature and seriously ill newborns.

Oxytocin:
Hormone prescribed to stimulate contractions in order to induce or augment labor and to contract the uterus to control postpartum bleeding. Pitocin is a trademarked name for oxytocin. Oxytocin also causes contractions within the breasts which squeeze the milk down the ducts to the nipples so the baby can feed.

Placenta:
Vascular organ through which fetus receives oxygen, nutrients and antibodies to infection and excretes carbon dioxide and waste products.

Premature/Prematurity:
Delivery before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Prolactin:
Milk-producing hormone released by the pituitary gland in response to a baby’s sucking.

Polyhydramnios: 
Abnormal condition of pregnancy characterized by excess of amniotic fluid.

Preclampsia:
Abnormal condition of pregnancy characterized by the onset of acute hypertension after the twenty-fourth week of gestation.

Preterm:
See Premature.

Selective Fetocide:
The medical destruction of one or more fetuses in a continuing pregnancy.

Selective Reduction: 
See Fetal Reduction.

Singleton: 
Child born from a nonmultiple pregnancy.

Stillbirth:
A baby born at 20 weeks gestation or later, who shows no sign of life.

Superfecundation:
Conception of multiples as a result of two acts of sexual intercourse in the same menstrual cycle.

Superfetation:
Conception of multiples as a result of two acts of sexual intercourse in different menstrual cycles.

Toxemia:
Hypertensive disorder of pregnancy including presence of bacterial toxins in the bloodstream; also called preclampsia.

Trizygotic:
Fetuses formed from three separate zygotes.

Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS):
A condition in which blood from one monozygotic twin fetus transfuses into the other fetus via blood vessels in the placenta. Can also occur among monozygotic multiples in a higher order multiple pregnancy.

VBAC: 
Vaginal birth after cesarean.

Vanishing Twin Syndrome:
Unexplained loss of one multiple fetus during the first trimester, despite the survival of other(s).

Zygosity:
Describing the genetic makeup of children from a multiple birth.

Zygote:
Fertilized egg.

 

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