The Parenting Journey - An Overview
Congratulations on the birth or expectant-birth of your multiples. Whether you are preparing for when your babies arrive, or whether they are already here, you will have loads of questions about your new journey as a parent of multiples…
Often parents prepare for the birth, but when the babies actually arrive they don’t know where to start! We understand that parenting multiples can be both daunting and overwhelming—and we have practical information and well-tested survival tips to help keep your day running as smoothly as possible, and guide you through all the ages and stages… and to keep you smiling as you experience the wonderful world of multiples!
- Pregnancy & Birth
So, you’re expecting multiples...
If you have just found out you are pregnant with more than one baby, you may be feeling a range of emotions—surprised, scared, joyful, elated, overwhelmed or worried. It can take time to come to terms with the unexpected news that you are carrying multiples and the implications this news may hold for you, your partner, and family.
Becoming pregnant with twins or multiples often occurs naturally, but growing two or more babies can be quite a different experience to that of a singleton pregnancy. Whilst you are still quite likely to have a trouble-free pregnancy and birth, it is important for you to know about the differences that a multiple pregnancy entails. So, we will focus on these differences, rather than on pregnancy in general—there are loads of websites on pregnancy, but often little information about twin-specific issues.
The key things to remember are to listen to your body, understand the differences that may occur due to a multiple pregnancy (this often includes pre term birth) and to look after yourselves. Giving birth and becoming parents to twins or multiple babies is an amazing rollercoaster of an experience!
There is a nice set of images on twins feotal development hosted here..
Click on the links below to find some basic information on the issues you now need to consider, and the first steps you should take to ensure a healthy multiple pregnancy.
Twins make up about 2% of all pregnancies in New Zealand, 75% of these will be fraternal and 25% identical. Triplet and higher order pregnancies can be fraternal or identical, or a mixture of both.
Aside from carrying two or more babies, your pregnancy will probably be shorter than a singleton pregnancy, and you will have greater needs for regular assessment, good nutrition and support.
A multiple pregnancy is confirmed by an ultrasound scan, usually during the first trimester. The first trimester scan is an important assessment tool when you are expecting multiples because this can be the easiest time to identify exactly what type of multiples you are carrying
By the time you read this, you may have booked in with a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)—a midwife, GP or obstetrician—and found out that you are expecting multiples, and that your maternity care requirements will be different to a singleton pregnancy. Multiple pregnancy is considered high risk
You will require more frequent Ultrasound scans during a multiple pregnancy, and although the same range of screening and diagnostic tests are available, they have different considerations when applied to more than one baby!
Growing two or more babies results in huge changes to our body and many of the systems within our body. You are at least three times more likely to have the ‘normal’ problems of pregnancy, such as reflux, severe morning sickness, haemorrhoids, varicose veins andconstipation—and many of these problems feel worse when
Twin pregnancies have increased risks for both the mother and the babies. There is an increased risk of anaemia, vaginal bleeding, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and pre-eclampsia—which occur in singleton pregnancies, but are more common in twin pregnancies. The most common complication in multiple pregnancy is the risk of premature labour and pre-term birth
Some pregnancy complications only occur in twin and multiple pregnancies. These include selective intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and cord entanglement in twins who share an amniotic sac.
- Premature Multiples
Many parents expecting multiples are worried that they will be premature
The Multiples NZ Medical Advisor, Dr Emma Parry, defines preterm birth as: “when birth occurs after 20 weeks gestation and up to 36 weeks and 6 days.” Babies born between 24 and 28 weeks are known as extremely premature.
The average pregnancy length for twins is 37 weeks, with 34 weeks for triplets and 32 for quads—this means a lot of twins (40%) are premature, most triplets (90%) will be preterm, and all higher-order multiple gestations. So, most parents expecting multiples will quickly learn that one of the main risks they face is having premature babies.
The good news is that the medical care pre-term babies receives is constantly evolving and improving, which is resulting in high survival rates for these babies. Recent research indicates that there is very little difference in the survival rates of premature multiples, compared to singletons of the same gestational age. Survival to discharge for premature babies is about 79% at 24 to 26 weeks, and 98% at 30 to 32 weeks—and these parameters are being constantly moved back, with the survival of extremely premature babies.
For more information about premature birth, click here.
For information about the signs & symptoms of premature labour, click here.
- The First Year
The first step in the journey—the first year with multiple babies
Managing newborn multiples is all about the general logistics of caring for two or three newborn babies. Like all logistical exercises, it will probably be easier than you think, and a positive attitude and some good planning will really help prepare you for those early days. Before your multiples are born, we suggest that you simplify your lifestyle and household, and sort out your finances so that you can reduce financial stress, and be able to afford some help with childcare, if you need it.
The first year with multiples mostly revolves around establishing routines for feeding and sleeping—very similar to singleton babies, but only more so! Most mums of twins (and triplets) agree that one routine for all the babies works best for everyone—so all babies are fed and put to sleep at the same time. Your local club will have lots of ideas for coping with your babies, and can help you find all the support that is available locally, and make sure that you know about what you are entitled to from the government.
The key suggestions for managing your new babies, from other parents of multiples, are:
- To take life one day at a time
- For mums to look after themselves—eating well (especially if you are breastfeeding), sleep when your babies are sleeping (or at least sit down, relax and put your feet up), and getting some time-out, when you can
- To not be afraid to ask for help—in factorganise lots of help, from friends and family, and childcare organisations, before the babies are born
- For parents to look after each other, nurture their relationship and work as a team—although multiples are hard work, they are a great opportunity for partners to build a really strong bond!
For more information, follow the links below, or buy a copy of the great Multiples NZ publication, The First Year: Positively thriving with twins, or get one when you join your local club.
- Sole Parenting
This page is under construction. While we upload content to this page, you might find it helpful to seek support from our online Facebook Community. There is a page specifically for Single Parents of Multiples. If you wish to visit this page, click here.
- Special Needs
Multiples with Special Needs
This page is under construction. While we upload content to this page, you might find it helpful to seek support from our online Facebook Community. There is a page specifically for Multiples with Special Needs. If you wish to visit this page, click here.
- Young Parents
This page is under construction. While we upload content to this page, you might find it helpful to seek support from our online Facebook Community. There is a page specifically for Young Parents of Multiples. If you wish to visit this page, click here.
This page is under construction. While we upload content to this page, you might find it helpful to seek support from our online Facebook Community. There is a page specifically for Fathers of Multiples. If you wish to visit this page, click here.