Multiple Birth Association
When couples first find out they are expecting twins, or Higher Order Multiples (HOM), their initial feelings can be overwhelming. Concerns about how they will manage, money worries, and general anxiety over housing and space can flood their minds. It can really help them to know they are not alone and that many other couples have, and are, experiencing exactly the same rollercoaster of emotions.
Sharing an experience can really make a difference. Although it is tempting to think of ourselves and our feelings as terribly unique and individual, the truth is we share more similarities than differences.
Becoming a member of any support group starts with identifying yourself as “one of them”. Meeting the criteria to join the Multiple Birth Association is relatively simple; you need to either be expecting more than one baby or have had a multiple birth. Importantly, you also need to be willing to join -membership is, of course, entirely voluntary.
Within Australia, there are about 60 Australian Multiple Birth Association affiliated clubs. This means that every club, no matter how many members, or how small, will reap the benefits for its members in being connected with the main organisation. The Australian Multiple Birth Association is the national, coordinating body of multiple birth associations across Australia. (See below for contact information).
In New Zealand, The Multiple Birth Association Incorporated is the national body as well, and combines around 22 local Multiple Birth clubs. Approximately 1500 families throughout New Zealand enjoy membership. (See below for contact information). One important factor in Multiple Birth Associations is that they are run entirely by volunteers. So keeping the energy flowing and the motivation high of the members and council is reliant on everyone pitching in and helping.
Most Multiple Birth Associations are Not for Profit groups, which mean that any surplus money raised is redirected straight back into the club. The outcome of this is that consecutive generations of multiple birth families will gain the benefits of the organisation.
Most of the Multiple Birth groups provide support and membership up to pre school age. But in view of the numbers of parents finding they want to continue their association with individual groups, some do extend the age categories to include primary school age.
What are the benefits of joining a multiple birth association?
We all benefit from knowing that we fit into a group. Having shared interests and experiences unites us. There is an enormous sense of belonging which we gain from being part of a collective. Benefits include:
- General friendship and shared communication about what it means to be a multiple birth parent.
- Coffee mornings, family outings, weekends away and babysitting clubs.
- Regular newsletters and blog updates.
- Helps to avoid loneliness – social networking opportunities can be built up and added to over the years.
- Building networks of physical, emotional and psychological support.
- Friendship and relationship building with the children. This helps them to know they are not “the only” twins/triplets/quadruplets in their area.
- Tips and suggestions from other multiple birth parents who have gone through the same experiences.
- Education on all aspects of managing multiple births and caring for more than one baby. This can include visits from health professionals, lactation consultants and first aid instructors.
- Loaning and hiring of equipment such as nursery furniture e.g. cots, prams and rocker chairs.
- An opportunity to share what worked for you. There is much to be gained from helping others through challenging times.
- Accessing information on multiple birth and caring for twins/triplets and HOM.
- Being part of a research group. Universities and hospitals often recruit parents from Multiple Birth Association/s as part of their sample population for research studies.
- Being part of a Multiple Birth Group can be very beneficial for men, who may feel a lack of male camaraderie and support. The focus of multiple births is often, understandably, on the mother and her babies and some men may feel left on the outer.
- They can be beneficial also for same sex couples who require the same level of community support as any other new parents. Multiple Birth Groups make an effort to be welcoming and do not exclude.
- Help with being kept up to date with new services, resources and products which become available for families with multiples.
- Discounts of goods and services such as toys, cleaning products, baby equipment and food items.
Many parents who initially met through shared membership of a Multiple Birth Association find they develop lifelong friendships which are maintained long after their babies have grown up and are independent.
Resources commonly available on loan
- General baby equipment for hire/loan. Many groups hold garage sales or swap meets where items which are no longer used can be traded for something else.
- Medical equipment which may be specific to premature or special needs babies.
- Breast pump equipment hire. Dual pumps are expensive to buy and it’s not always possible to source one on loan from a pharmacy.
- Books and reference libraries.
- DVDs and videos. These can relate to parenting and raising multiples but can also be relevant for children.
- Children’s books.
- Toy library. These are very useful as they are a great way to rotate toys and maintain children’s interest when the novelty of playing with the same toys has worn off.
- Blogs and chat forums. With the explosion of digital technology, many parents find their first choice in seeking advice is from peer groups. Parents in focus groups report they value advice offered by other parents who are experiencing the same concerns as they are.
But I want to do it all myself!
In the early days of caring for multiples, many parents report they could not manage without the support of other, caring adults. Not everyone has friends and family living nearby and sometimes it’s necessary to rely on newly found friends sourced through a Multiple Birth Association or club.
But like any collective group of adults, there will be some individuals you get on with very well and others not as much. Just because you share a common experience of having more than one baby does not guarantee a firm friendship. But don’t be too dismissive – first impressions can be very wrong. Many close and abiding relationships have been forged from initial wariness and remember, a simple “Hi” is all that’s needed to break the ice.
Some Multiple Birth Associations/groups make up rosters of meal deliveries to new parents. This can make an enormous difference to getting through the early, exhaustive days of parenting. Others make themselves available for school drop-off and pick-ups for older, school aged children and even homework supervision and play dates.
Living in a metropolitan city rather than a rural/regional area is obviously a bonus when it comes to sourcing a Multiple Birth Association. But some geographical areas are known for their higher than average multiple birth rates, raising suspicion about what’s been put in the water or air to cause such a spike in fertility amongst certain communities! And the groups in these areas are not wanting for memberships either.
Multiple Birth Awareness Week is held every year within Australia – for advice on next year’s dates and events which are planned check: