Hoping for Multiple Babies? 5 Foods to Boost Your Chances
Even when I was tiny, my aunt would tell me I was going to have twins. I was “the one”, she told me: the next generation of twin bearers.
My aunt was a twin herself—but her brother, despite being the larger, stronger, and healthier of the pair at birth, died shortly thereafter. It was her belief that our family held the secret DNA ensuring a long and fruitful lineage of twins.
So I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have to work on it with lotions or potions (in spite of my aunt’s perhaps fanciful notions). I just knew it was going to happen. It wasn’t an outcome I’d have necessarily chosen for myself—but it was certainly one I was more than willing to accept.
If you don’t have a positive, support, fortune-telling aunt yourself, though, never fear—several factors can increase your odds of having a multiple birth, including age, height, and even family history of multiple births (for unsurprisingly complicated reasons which I’m hopelessly unqualified to explain!).
Yet so many people are unaware that certain foods can help induce a multiple conception, too. Regardless of how much truth there is in it, plenty of people hold strong convictions that diet can increase your chance of multiples. And if that belief is as strong as my aunt’s, well, it’s got to be worth something, right! Let’s explore 5 foods best known for having this effect—some individual foods, and some groups.
1) Foods rich in folic acid
Also known as folate, folic acid is a soluble vitamin which performs many functions in the body. Pregnant women must take folic acid as a supplement. It promotes foetal growth and reduces the risk of birth defects. Not taking it is simply not an option.
Some studies have suggested that 40% of women who take folic acid while trying to get pregnant may have a slightly higher chance of conceiving twins. As with all supplements, of course, you should consult your doctor to get the dosage right—especially if you’re trying for a baby.
Foods that contain folic acid include avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, legumes, asparagus, liver, pasta, and breakfast cereals.
2) Maca root
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca root has been proven to be beneficial in boosting fertility, as well as effective in balancing and regulating a woman’s hormones—and even boosting your chances of getting pregnant with twins. Maca root is generally eaten in dried or powdered form. You can add it to your tea, yoghurt, or smoothie.
3) Dairy products
Research has suggested that women who regularly consume dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, and butter are up to five times more likely to conceive twins. This may be because of insulin growth factor (IGF), a growth protein in cow milk as well as other animal products. When you consume a large amount of dietary protein rich in IGF, you’re prone to releasing more than one egg during ovulation (in a process called hyperovulation), which in turn increases your chances of conceiving twins—specifically, non-identical twins.
Cassava has long been known for increasing fertility, as well as for boosting the chances of conceiving twins. That’s because, like dairy products rich in IGF, cassava has hyperovulatory properties. The theory goes that natural hormones in cassava trick the brain into thinking the body has insufficient oestrogen and therefore releasing more gonadotropin, a hormone which heightens ovulation rate.
This food is probably the most renowned for its apparent tendency to cause multiple births—but it needs to be continually present in your diet to have that effect. Yams are a rich source of progesterone and phytoestrogens, which may lead to hyperovulation and thus increase the odds of a multiple birth. Just take Igbo-Ora, a town in Nigeria known as the Twin Capital of the World because of its dramatically high proportion of twins, and indeed multiple births. In Igbo-Ora, twins are so common that they’re traditionally given specific names: Taiwo and Kehinde, depending on who was born first and second. In fact, the town’s twin birth rate is a staggering four times higher than the global average. Scientists have long hypothesised that this is because of the high amount of yam in the diet of the average citizen, which echoes a long-held belief among the townsfolk themselves.
Why you might want to aim for a multiple birth
An Oxford study found that maternal age is actually ‘the most important factor associated with twinning’, and indeed that ‘The number of twin pregnancies increases substantially with maternal age.’ You can also guarantee a multiple birth by having multiple embryos implanted. The question for some, though, is simply: Would you want to? A fair question indeed—so let me finish off with a quickfire round to answer it.
If you’re doing IVF, it is of course less expensive to have twins in one round than have additional rounds at a later date, and at greater expense.
If you’re having a baby later in life but want multiple children, it may make more sense to have all the children you want in one go.
If you’re a single mum, you may love the idea of your child having a sibling to play with—rather than you being their full-time entertainer!
If you can afford a nanny, then you might as well have two babies at once—or even more!
Good luck—and maybe start cooking up some tasty yams, sharpish.