What are fraternal triplets?
In terms of similarity, fraternal triplets are no more alike than siblings who have the same biological parents. The only real likenesses they may have are some resemblances of their features and a shared birth date.
This issue of family similarity has fascinated researchers for a very long time. This is why twins and triplets are so commonly used for studies into the subject of nature versus nurture: specifically, which is the more powerful determinate when it comes to how children evolve into adults.
How common are fraternal triplets?
How similar will these fraternal triplet babies be?
It can be relatively easy to differentiate each individual baby’s personality and temperament from the start. One baby may be more active in the uterus and when born. He or she just makes their presence more obvious in their own unique way.
Parents of fraternal triplets say that it is important to try and see each baby as their own unique little person, rather than one of a cluster of 3. Referring to them as “the triplets” instead of by name should be avoided where possible. Calling them by their individual names will help you and your partner build individual, unique relationships with each of them.
In the early days of pregnancy this can be very challenging, but with scans and your growing tummy, you will find ways to differentiate each of your babies. The fact that they are fraternal and started out from conception as 3 completely separate zygotes may help you to view them from the start as siblings who just happen to be sharing your uterus at the same time.
The fact that your fraternal triplets have experienced the same intrauterine conditions cannot be overlooked. Your diet, environment, prenatal healthcare, and activity level will all influence how your babies grow and develop, both in utero and throughout their lives. The concept of epigenetics is fascinating and looks at how factors such as prenatal nutrition, diet and stress can all influence the genes which are passed on through generations of the same family.
How to increase the chances of having fraternal triplets?
- Have fertility assistance. The more eggs supported to maturity and released through ovulation each month, the greater the chances of conception. Bear in mind though standards exist regarding the number of embryos which can be transplanted back into a woman’s uterus.
- Pick your own parents carefully. Taller women are more likely to have multiples.
- Women who have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) have a greater likelihood of multiple births.
- Have a history of undergoing fertility assistance in the past.
- Eat a diet which is high in dairy foods, milk, and or sweet potatoes.
- Be within an older age group. Women who are over 30-years-old have a higher-than-average chance of having multiples.
- Be of African-American descent.
- Having a multiple pregnancy previously increases the chances.
- Come from a family where multiple births are more common.
- Have lots of sex when you are most fertile.
Average pregnancy weight gain with triplets
- First trimester: 4 to 5 pounds.
- Second trimester: 28-plus pounds.
- Third trimester: 11 to 15-plus pounds.
Monitoring weight is just one way of assessing maternal and fetal wellbeing and should not be considered in isolation of other observations.
Things to remember
Many expectant parents worry about how they could possibly love 3 babies who are all born at the same time. Imagining that you can build a deep emotional connection with more than one baby can seem overwhelming, until they are actually born. When you see your babies and they are individuals, rather than images on a screen or beings fighting for space in your uterus, then all will be clear. Give yourself time and practice to get to know your babies. Nature has designed our babies to help us fall in love with them. Be confident, stay calm and believe in your own abilities.
Good, regular prenatal care is vital. If you are pregnant with fraternal triplets, you will be in what is considered a high-risk pregnancy. Monitoring, check-ups and ultrasounds will become a regular part of your life for the next 7 to 8 months.
Make a point of getting to know your healthcare provider and building a trusting relationship with them. It is important that you feel comfortable enough to ask any question which crosses your mind, so you can clear your thoughts for the next inevitable query.
Don’t forget that in order for your body to grow and support 3 little babies at the same time, you will need to care well for their mother. Eating well, resting when you can, gentle exercise and having healthy emotional relationships will all play a crucial role in supporting your own good health.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.