Quintuplets are a set of five babies born altogether at the same birth. They’re like twins, or triplets, or quadruplets, but there are five of the lovely little things, all at the same time. You might hear them called ‘quints’ or, perhaps less catchily, ‘high-order multiple births’.
The bottom line is that they’re rare – incredibly rare. And identical quintuplets, when all five siblings share exactly the same genes, are even rarer. Due to fertility treatment, though, quintuplets are becoming slightly more common.
Here’s what you need to know.
In this article: 📝
- What are the chances of quintuplets?
- What are the different types of quintuplets?
- How to have quintuplets?
- Things to be aware of when pregnant with quintuplets
What are the chances of quintuplets?
We said quintuplets are rare. And we really mean rare. In 2017, only 49 sets of quintuplets were born in America. Meanwhile, the first all-girl quintuplets in the US ever were born only in 2015.
So, the odds of quintuplets? Something in the region of one in 57 million, or one in just over 60 million. There isn’t exact agreement on this, because when you get to these sorts of numbers, it’s difficult to say precisely.
What are the different types of quintuplets?
Different types of quintuplets happen thanks to the different things that happen to your eggs in the womb. The different types are known as monozygotic or polyzygotic quintuplets.
Monozygotic quintuplets. These are the super rare ones. Also known as identical quintuplets, they are genetically identical and of the same sex. The odds of these being conceived? We don’t even know, they’re so uncommon. They happen when your fertilized egg splits into five different embryos – which doesn’t occur often.
Polyzygotic quintuplets. Still pretty rare, but with fertility treatment, less so. Polyzygotic or fraternal quintuplets happen when different eggs are fertilized by different sperm at the same time. This way, they’re not identical. When multiple fertilized eggs are implanted during fertility treatment and by a miracle many come to term, this can happen.
Mix and match (not an official term). Finally, quints can happen thanks to both processes. There may be multiple embryos and some of these can then split. That means you’d have some identical and some fraternal quintuplets.
How to have quintuplets?
While we understand the process of how quintuplets are made, there’s not exactly a foolproof way to have quintuplets deliberately. If it’s your dream to have five little scamps all at the same time, a bit of finger-crossing is probably going to be your best chance of success.
But things might be on your side if some of the following are true of you:
- You’ve had multiple births before. Mamas with a history of multiple births tend to be more likely to have them again.
- You’ve a family history of multiple births. If there’s a precedent, you probably have a better chance. Far from a guarantee though.
- You’re older when getting pregnant. The older you are when conceiving, the greater the chance of quintuplets.
- You’re taking fertility treatment. Things like fertility drugs and IVF treatment boost the chances that multiple eggs will be fertilized. And that ups the chances of quintuplets.
It’s not easy to deliberately get pregnant with quintuplets, but if that’s what you want, by all means give it a go!
Things to be aware of when pregnant with quintuplets
You’re one in perhaps 60 million. Wow! If you’re pregnant with quintuplets, you’re going to want to know what’s coming round the corner. Here are some things to be aware of:
- The average gestation (time spent in your uterus) is 29 weeks, rather than 40. That means that your quintuplets are likely to arrive preterm.
- Most likely, you’ll have a caesarean delivery. Birth is a physical strain as it is. With five different babies to manage, it can be that much harder. A c-section is very common with multiple births.
- Multiple births can happen on different days. Meaning, although they’re quintuplets, they may not share a birthday. Multiple birthday parties, anyone?