- Parenting twins, triplets or more is an enormous task. Parents of multiples are more likely to experience mental health challenges and severe, clinical levels of exhaustion.
- AMBA advocates on behalf of multiples families for more support and positive health outcomes - you can read more about our advocacy work here.
- Joining your local multiple birth club can be a great source of friendship and networking.
- Accepting help from your loved ones and engaging with formal support services can help to lighten the load.
The unique challenges of parenting multiples
Around 1.5% of all births in Australia each year are multiple births. Although only a small percentage of parents give birth to multiples, these parents are significantly more likely to experience medical complications, premature birth, mental health challenges, severe exhaustion and financial stress. The additional challenges of raising multiples begin during pregnancy, continue through the postnatal period with two, three or more babies to support, and well into early childhood where issues such as affordable, accessible childcare may come to the fore. It is clear that most parents of multiples will need a lot of support, over a long period of time and from a range of sources.
Support from AMBA and your local multiple birth club
A key focus for AMBA is advocating on behalf of parents of multiples, with the aim to enable positive health outcomes and equality for multiple birth families. In late 2022 AMBA surveyed over 1,500 parents of multiples from across Australia to better understand whether more support is needed for parents of multiples and, if so, what kind of support would be most effective. You can read the report on the survey outcomes here. As a result of the survey, AMBA has launched an advocacy campaign for increased financial support for families. We know many parents of multiples are passionate about the need for greater support - an AMBA petition and template to email your local member of parliament are available here if you would like to add your voice to the campaign.
In addition to advocacy, AMBA helps parents of multiples by linking them to a strong support network of other multiples families. Joining your local club brings opportunities to connect with other parents facing similar challenges, offers a ‘safe space’ to practise getting out and about with your babies, and can be the starting point for many long-term friendships.
Support from friends and family
When your babies arrive home, your day-to-day priorities will be feeding yourself and the babies, and getting enough sleep - everything else can wait. You will have many visitors wanting to share in the joy of your multiples but it is not your job to entertain them; you should feel comfortable asking those who visit to help around the house, for example cooking, cleaning, washing, and looking after older siblings and/or the babies while you rest.
It is natural for active offers of support to reduce once you have been home for a while, but there is no shame asking your friends and family for assistance many weeks or months later.
Health support services and other ideas
Prioritising your mental health can be difficult when you are fully occupied caring for your babies, but if you feel like you are struggling it is so important to seek help. Talking to your GP, maternal and child health nurse or social worker (if you or your babies are still in hospital) can open up a range of possibilities for counselling and other mental health services. The Centre of Perinatal Excellence also provides a range of online resources and an e-directory for accessing health professionals near you.
Making time for your own physical health, while challenging, can also go some way to lighten your load. Simple things like asking friends and family to deliver some fresh, home-cooked meals and taking the babies for regular walks in the pram can be helpful.
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be eligible for some community-based support, for example assistance with basic domestic tasks and transport to and from appointments - enquire about local supports through your multiple birth club or a social worker while you are still in hospital.
If you can afford it, you may wish to take advantage of private services like cleaning, nannies and home delivery meal services. Online shopping and grocery deliveries can save you time and offer convenience until you feel more confident getting out and about.