When you're pregnant or trying to conceive, you're sure to get all kinds of well-intended advice: what to eat (or not eat), how to fight morning sickness, how to stock the nursery. You'll also hear a lot of speculation on the baby's gender, and maybe even some old wives' tales that hint you're having twins, or about the best ways to guarantee a pregnancy with multiples.
As What to Expect reports, about 4 percent of births in the U.S. are multiples, with most of those pregnancies being twins. There are certain built-in factors that can increase your chances of having more than one, such as having twins in the family, undergoing fertility treatments (which involve taking hormones that stimulate ovarian production), being African American (they're slightly more likely than white women to have twins), and being an older mom (women over 35 produce more follicle-stimulating hormone, which makes a double egg release more likely). There's also one stat about twins that's not quite as fun: Parents of twins are slightly more likely to divorce than parents of singletons, according to a report in Reuters.
Whether you're already expecting twins, hoping to, or just want to salute the unique journey that is motherhood-with-multiples, you'll find these beliefs and myths about twindom fascinating (and some of them are actually true).
1. Finding A Double-Yolk Egg
You crack your breakfast egg into the frying pan and find not one, but two yellow orbs. An eerie coincidence? Maybe. According to Very Well Family, this is a long-held superstition that predicts your family is about to grow by two more.
2. Eating Yams
It's nowhere close to Thanksgiving, but you're hungrily eyeing the display of sweet potatoes in the supermarket... maybe even putting a few in the cart. If you're hoping for a double view on the sonogram, go ahead and indulge your craving. As BabyGaga explained, sweet potatoes contain a hormone that is thought to stimulate the ovaries, upping the chances of releasing more than one egg.
Even better: Go a little more exotic and eat cassava, a root vegetable that's considered the "true" yam. The BBC recently reported on Igbo-Ora, a small town in Nigeria that has the highest rate in twin births. Researchers speculate that diet may have something to do with it; cassava is one of the mainstays of the Yoruba tribe's diet, and the peelings contain a chemical that may trigger a two-egg release during ovulation.
3. Dreaming Of Two Babies
If you're pregnant, your own body may be sending you hints that you're expecting multiples. Old wives' tales abound about dreaming of, thinking about, or just having a hunch about twins. As the founder of the maternity clothing line TummyWear noted on her website, when she went for her first ultrasound she found herself saying, "I bet they'll find twins or something." Sure enough, the sono revealed that she was expecting two boys.
4. Drinking Bourbon
Of course, you shouldn't drink any kind of alcohol if there's a chance you might already be pregnant. However, if you're TTC, it's thought that your chances of multiples increase if you drink bourbon, per TwinStuff. There actually may be a grain of truth in this: Bourbon contains a biologically active phytoestrogen, which imitates estrogen in the body and may affect ovarian production.
5. Bringing Good (Or Bad) Luck
Going back to the twin-rich Yoruba tribe, there are a lot of superstitions and traditions surrounding twindom, according to a report from Cambridge University. For instance, twins are thought to have magical powers and can either bring health, happiness, and prosperity to their families or disease, death, and bad luck — so parents tend to treat them with kid gloves, just in case. The twin born first is thought to be "curious and adventurous," while the second-born is "careful, more intelligent, and more reflective."
6. There's A Breastfeeding Link
Legend has it that women who become pregnant while they're still nursing a first child are more likely to be carrying twins, according to TwinStuff. The truth? Although the odds of conceiving while breastfeeding are lower, because the high prolactin levels of nursing moms suppress ovulation, women can and do get pregnant even when they have a young infant, reported Parents.
7. Eat More Dairy For Twins
Chow down on milk and cheese if you want to conceive twins. That sounds like a myth, but there's actually science behind this: A New York obstetrician who has studied multiple births closely has found that women who eat animal products, particularly dairy, are four-fifths as likely to have twins as women following a vegan diet, according to research published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine. The probable reason: Animals (and people) produce a protein called IGF in their livers that can help stimulate the follicle-producing hormone in the ovaries, leading to more egg production.