When you’re expecting more than one baby, it’s nice to know as soon as possible so you can mentally and physically prepare. Fortunately, technology makes it easier to detect twins earlier than ever.
When can twins be seen on ultrasound? The best time to see twins on an ultrasound is 10 weeks and after, though your doctor may be able to see them before then. Many doctors don’t actually order an ultrasound until the 10-week mark, so that may be the first time you know you’re having multiples.
When you will have an ultrasound and if it will detect your twins depends on many things.
Detecting Twins in Early Pregnancy
You may feel a bit different when you’re pregnant with twins, but you will need verification from an ultrasound to be sure you are truly carrying two.
When Do Twins Show Up on Ultrasound?
Twins can show up on an ultrasound in the early weeks of pregnancy, but it’s also possible for an ultrasound to miss them before the 10-week mark. It depends on the type of ultrasound and how the twins are positioned.
How Early Can Twins Be Detected?
Twins can be detected during the first trimester. However, different factors affect if the ultrasound will pick up both babies super early in the first trimester or in the later weeks.
Twin Pregnancy Ultrasound 5 Weeks
Five weeks is very early to have an ultrasound, but your doctor may have reasons to ask for one. It is possible to identify a twin pregnancy this early, though it can also be missed.
Twin Pregnancy Ultrasound 6 Weeks
Most ultrasounds will be able to see twins at 6 weeks if your doctor orders one this early. Your doctor may have a hard time figuring out if your twins are mo/mo or mo/di this early, but di/di twins may be easier to recognize at this point since they have their own chorionic and amniotic sacs.
Twin Ultrasound 7 Weeks
At 7 weeks, your doctor usually can see twins on an ultrasound if they are in the right position.
Twin Ultrasound 8 Weeks
By 8 weeks, an ultrasound should be able to confirm two babies in one womb. You will probably be experiencing many other symptoms of a twin pregnancy by this point as well.
Twin Ultrasound10 Weeks
You may not have an ultrasound until the 10-week mark. This is called the dating ultrasound and should help pin down a due date.
During this ultrasound, your twins should be easy to find and identify. However, your doctor may not be able to tell you exactly what type of twins you’re having just yet.
Early Signs of Twin Pregnancy: First 2 Weeks
You likely won’t notice pregnancy symptoms the first two weeks, even if you’re carrying twins. A pregnancy test will also not come up positive this early in most cases.
Unless you are receiving fertility treatment, you won’t likely have any reason to wonder if you’re pregnant this early.
Twin Pregnancy Symptoms at 4 Weeks
By week four, you may feel implantation cramps or experience implantation bleeding. Though you probably won’t yet know you’re pregnant, fatigue and breast tenderness could clue you in to the fact that something is different.
Early Signs of Twins: 5 Weeks
Five weeks may bring a positive pregnancy test, a larger belly, and morning sickness that lasts throughout the day. Since your body is carrying two babies, your pregnancy symptoms will be more intense than if you were only carrying one baby.
Early Pregnancy Ultrasound
A dating ultrasound may be performed when you are anywhere from 6-10 weeks along. This ultrasound will confirm your pregnancy and give the doctor an idea of when your due date is.
If you’re pregnant with twins, that may be discovered at this very first ultrasound, and you may even be able to hear their hearts beat.
This early ultrasound is transvaginal, and you will be able to see where your babies are in your womb. Depending on the type of twins you’re having, you will see one or two sacs, a membrane separating your twins, or nothing separating them at all.
Twin Pregnancy Ultrasound Schedule
Your specific situation will determine how many ultrasounds you have and when you have them. However, you can expect to have ultrasounds more often if you’re carrying multiples, no matter what type you’re having.
If your babies are sharing a placenta, expect an ultrasound every two weeks from the 12th week and beyond. Twins who each have their own placentas can expect a dating ultrasound, a 20-week ultrasound, and ultrasounds every 4 weeks after that.
When Do Twins Form?
Twins form during the earliest weeks of pregnancy before you know you’re pregnant. An egg that splits and creates identical twins can split at different times in those early days, and that will determine whether the twins are mo/mo or mo/di.
Fraternal twins are formed when two eggs are released and are fertilized by two different sperm. This also takes place in the early weeks before you know you’re pregnant.
Difference Between Single and Twin Pregnancy Symptoms
You may know that your twin pregnancy is different from a singleton pregnancy just by the symptoms. With a twin pregnancy, you can expect a larger bump to appear sooner.
You will also likely experience more extreme morning sickness and exhaustion due to increased HCG levels.
How Is a Twin Pregnancy Different?
If you are pregnant with twins, expect to see your doctor much more often. You may also be referred to an MFM doctor to help manage your pregnancy if it’s considered high risk.
What To Expect With a Twin Pregnancy
Twin pregnancies often require bed rest, and they don’t typically last the full 40 weeks a singleton pregnancy does.
Your pregnancy symptoms will be stronger when you are carrying twins, and this can lead to exhaustion, nausea, and more weight gain.
Can an Ultrasound Miss Twins at 7 Weeks?
It is possible for an ultrasound to miss twins at 7 weeks, though it isn’t likely.
If one twin is positioned behind the other, then the ultrasound tech and doctor might not see him. A twin may also be missed if there is a problem with the viability of one of the twins.
When Will I Know if My Twins Are Identical or Fraternal?
Sometimes your doctor will be able to tell from an ultrasound if your twins are identical or fraternal, but that’s not always the case.
Your doctor will look at the number of amniotic and chorionic sacs, but that still doesn’t tell the full story of what type of twins you’re having.
If your doctor can confirm that your babies are different genders, then you will know they are fraternal. You may choose to have DNA tests if your twins are the same gender and your doctor can’t tell you for sure if they are identical or fraternal.
No matter when you find out you’re having twins, it’s an amazing surprise that will lead to one of the greatest adventures of your life.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.