Whether you are expecting twins or already raising them, you may be wondering about the differences between identical and fraternal twins.
Facts about Twins
Fraternal twins are non-identical twins. Non-identical are formed when two eggs are released from your ovaries at the same time. Sperm fertilizes both eggs and they develop into separate babies.
Non-identical twins do not share the same DNA as identical twins do and they may be different sexes. Fraternal twins are essentially siblings that are the same age and have shared a uterus. They will be as similar or dissimilar as any other siblings might be.
Fraternal siblings are more common than identical twins and occur in about 66 percent of all twin births.
What Causes Fraternal Twins?
Medical experts have found a genetic predisposition for non-identical twins. So, if you are pregnant with twins, and twins run in your family, you are probably pregnant with non-identical multiples.
Fertility treatments can also cause you to release more than one egg, increasing the likelihood that you will carry fraternal multiples. You may also have a higher chance for twins if you are over 35 years old when you become pregnant.
Pregnant with Twins
There is little difference between being pregnant with identical twins and carrying a fraternal twosome. However, your pregnancy will dramatically change once you find out you are pregnant with twins. Your pregnancy will be classified as high risk and your nutritional requirements will change. You may have to take maternity leave sooner and be more attentive toward your body's needs. You will see your doctor more frequently, have more tests, and will have to watch out for signs of preterm labor.
Although raising a non-identical duo is similar to raising identical twins, parenting twins of any kind raises unique challenges.
Identification of the Twins
In the beginning, you may have problems telling your fraternal twins apart because they may appear identical. Parents of twins often recommend dressing the newborns in different colors to help you tell them apart. If you are uncertain whether your twins are identical or fraternal, a blood test will be able to tell for certain.
You will probably find raising twins to be harder in the beginning than raising singletons. There will be double the feedings, double the crying, and double the diapers. Be sure to ask for help those first few months from friends and family members.
As your children become older they will have instant playmates that understand them completely. Most fraternal multiples enjoy making up silly songs and playing peek-a-boo for hours. Your twins may even develop their own language that only they will understand. This is often called twin speak.
As with regular siblings, your fraternal duo may fight and have difficulty sharing. You can teach your twins to share by giving them their own clothes and toys that they can share with their twin.
Twins should always be encouraged to develop their own interests separate from each other. If you notice that one twin likes dancing and the other singing, you should encourage these differences, especially in the beginning. After the chaos of the first few months wanes, make it a priority to spend special time with each twin. It may be difficult to actually separate them from each other, but you can read one a story while the other plays with a toy.
Twins, especially boy/girl twins may develop at different rates. Your daughter may be ready for potty training earlier than your son. Your daughter may talk sooner and better than your son. Developing at different rates is normal, but if you are concerned one of your twins is developing significantly slower than the other, you should check with your pediatrician.