Welcome to AMBA's perinatal mental health information page for families with multiples.
While it has been estimated that at least one in ten pregnant women in Australia suffers from depression and/or anxiety (1) there is consistent evidence that the emotional health of mothers of multiple infants is poorer and they are at higher risk of becoming depressed, anxious and clinically exhausted after childbirth than mothers of single infants. Research has shown that mothers of twins experience rates of clinical anxiety are three times higher than among mothers of singletons and rates of depression five times higher (2). Even higher rates of depression have been reported among mothers of triplets (3).
While parenting multiples is a joy, there are also many challenges such as:
- The time and intensity of caretaking multiple babies – and sometimes balancing this with older siblings
- Less and more fragmented sleep
- Relationship stress
- Financial strain – more babies mean more resources are needed and returning to work can be difficult
- Increased risk of perinatal medical complications
- The challenge of establishing breastfeeding
It is so important to seek help. Our suggestions are to:
- Join an AMBA club to meet your peers – there is no reason for you to feel that you are alone. AMBA clubs provide many opportunities for contact with other multiple birth families including an ‘Expectant Parents Meeting’ and online forums.
- Visit the Multiples pages on the COPE website to access their resources and search their e-COPE directory for local providers
- Review our sleep advice and look into support from your local sleep and settling service (such as Tweedle in Victoria)
- Keep up communications with your partner
- Know you have feeding options - your midwife is there to support you. If you have left hospital and are at home, review our advice and seek out support from The Australian Breastfeeding Association or look to your peers for advice on bottle feeding; there are a surprising number of helpful tools and techniques.
- Austin M-P, Highet N and the Expert Working Group (2017) Mental Health Care in the Perinatal Period: Australian Clinical Practice Guideline. Melbourne: Centre of Perinatal Excellence.
- Hay, D. A., Gleeson, C., Davies, C., Lorden, B., Mitchell, D., & Paton, L. (1990). What information should the multiple birth family receive before, during and after the birth? Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae, 39, 259–269.
- Robin, M., Bydlowski, M., Cahen, F., & Josse, D. (1991). Maternal reactions to the birth of triplets. Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae, 40, 41–51