BMBAN is wishing all mothers a very special Mother’s Day this year. We especially send our love to our expectant and first-time member mums, and congratulate them on their first Mother’s Day!
This poem is for all our multiples mums xx
Their eyes widen as they say not one, but two little heartbeats, For very special mums maybe it’s even more (what a treat!). You’re scared, amazed and happy, but overwhelmed, just a bit, But then you start to wonder, where on Earth are they all going to fit?!
You research and prepare as much as you can, But the bone-aching tiredness runs from your feet to your hands. Emotions are wild, they seem to ebb and flow with the tide, One minute you’re up, and the next? You want off the ride.
But it’s all ok we promise, go find your ticket and sit back down, Because you will push through the pain. You will find your crown. The time goes quickly, isn’t that what everyone says? Well it does my friend, it does, so much that it scares.
Somewhere from within you will find your grit, You may not know it at the time, but when you look back, you’ll see it! You rally and wait and then here comes Baby A! Oh, and there is Baby B! And for our truly blessed mummas, maybe a little baby C.
You may not get to see or hold them right away, but that’s all ok, Remember, you’re a mum now, on this very special day. Kisses and cuddles might be delayed, but never fear, When you do finally get to hold them you will shed many happy tears.
At some point you will be ready to take your babies home, Now this part, my friend, will be challenging on its own! But you will survive, you will thrive, I promise! Just remember to take it steady and be kind to yourself.
Your body needs time to heal, much longer than you might think, But don’t forget to nourish your mind, your heart, and your spirit. The days will be long, and the nights probably even longer, But remember what you’ve already achieved- you’re so much stronger!
Someday soon those little babies will grow so much bigger, The newborn scrunch disappears, and you watch your toddler giggle. It’s probably only then that you will pause to reflect, Jeez, what did I just conquer? I was an absolute wreck!
No you weren’t, not even a little bit, not even at all, You became a very special mum, only few will get the call. You became a mum of multiples, a mum of more, A truly courageous mum, a mum we all adore.
This week marks one of the most significant dates on the multiple birth community calendar – Multiple Birth Awareness Week!
This year, like every year, BMBAN celebrates the special moments unique to multiple birth families, and acknowledges the challenges faced by our members in navigating their unique family situations. BMBAN is incredibly proud of its history supporting multiple birth families in our community and helping multiple generations of multiples!
Life’s a little more fun with multiples
We asked our members to share some of the happiest moments they have of life with multiples, here’s some of their answers!
Watching them all play together and share cuddles!
Watching how much their big brother loves them, and how much they love their big brother!
Watching their big brother give them kisses and hugs, and helping to give their bottles when they were babies!
Holding them in my arms together for the first time, which was many days after they were born.
For many of our members, finding out they are expecting multiples is a daunting time in their lives, but filled with many of these special moments.
Life’s a little crazy with multiples
Look, there’s no denying life is a little crazier with multiples. Logistically, we’ve learned to negotiate many an ordinary task with some extraordinary measures!
Here’s our members comments on the craziest moments of multiples life:
The first time I took twin babies and a toddler to the playground by myself. Absolutely nuts!
Flying to the UK with 3 kids under 2.5 years!
The utter chaos of entertaining a toddler, feeding a newborn twin, and bouncing the other newborn twin!
Trying to figure out how to fold the double pram with screaming babies in the back of the car.
Chaotic, yes indeed!
Life is a little (or a lot) challenging with multiples
Ask any parent of multiples what the most common comment they get is, and we can almost guarantee it’s “I don’t know how you do it!”. Or, in some cases, if you’re a bit unlucky, we do get the odd “I’m glad it’s you, not me!”. Eek (not a great one FYI).
Here’s what our members had to say about the hardest moments of multiple birth life:
Parenting 3 kids under 2 during a global pandemic.
Not meeting twin A for a number of days after her birth.
A house of gastro whilst still breastfeeding twins.
Trying to explain to my friends why my life was different and accepting that some of my friends would not be my friends anymore.
These are few snapshots into the challenging moments our members face. But the multiple birth community now has some excellent data on the other strains placed on multiple birth families.
the costs of twins and higher order multiples were almost 5 times and 13 times respectively, higher than those of a singleton up to the age of 1
pregnant women with multiples are more prone to virtually every pregnancy complication
68% of multiples are born premature and admitted to SCN or NICU, and 50% have hospital stays of 6 days or more;
mothers of multiples have a lower breastfeeding rate, and are more likely to discontinue breastfeeding earlier than mothers of singletons;
61% of parents of multiples experience mental health challenges in their first year;
parents of multiples are 9 times more likely to experience disabling exhaustion; and
67% of parents of multiples said childcare in Australia was not affordable for their family.
It is amazing to have such up-to-date statistics on the key factors impacting upon our members, supporting what our members intrinsically knew about their own day-to-day experiences.
AMBA has released a petition to help achieve greater support for multiple birth families including increased financial support. If you’d like to support the work AMBA is doing in this space, you can find further details of the petition here.
A final word of celebration
BMBAN wishes all of our members, and everyone within the multiple birth community, a very happy Multiple Birth Awareness Week 2023!
This International Women’s Day, we at BMBAN acknowledge the challenges women within the multiple birth community face, showcase how adept our community is at innovating, and consider what further steps can be taken to safeguard gender equality for the current and next generation of women in our membership.
Women in the multiple birth community are innovators by necessity. So many of our daily challenges cannot be solved with traditional approaches. So we find new ways to tackle our problems. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they fail. But no matter the outcome, they innovate.
How innovation has changed multiple births
Multiples pregnancies are classified as ‘high risk’, and for good reason. Whilst complications can affect any pregnancy, multiple birth families are faced with a heightened risk of complications, including pre-term birth and prematurity. Keeping those precious babies safe in utero for as long as possible is the main goal, and technological advancements in screening and pregnancy care are critical for improving outcomes for women in our community. Increasing community knowledge about these risks is also pivotal for providing the highest levels of care for women and ensuring they have adequate supports in place.
Twin-to-twin transfer syndrome (TTTS) is a serious complication associated with identical twin pregnancies. Advancements in medical technology have enabled the treatment of TTTS in utero (fetal laser surgery) and have contributed significantly to the improvement of outcomes in these pregnancies. Technological advancement in this field has had a direct impact on the positive medical outcomes of women and their unborn children.
Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are also a common chapter in multiple birth journeys. Many of our members share stories from the NICU, sometimes even befriending fellow multiples NICU parents who are facing the same vulnerable moments together. With ongoing research, new screening technologies, quality education for healthcare providers and better medical resources, the number of positive stories coming from our tiny NICU graduates is heartwarming.
BMBAN provides education and support to our members during their NICU journeys, and brings awareness to the larger community about the impact it has upon our members. Embracing new technologies has also enabled us to deliver comprehensive webinars to expectant parents, giving them the knowledge and tools to tackle these early days, in a way that has immensely expanded our accessibility to these families.
Adapting to multiple priorities
The subtle shifts in adapting to multiples start early in pregnancy. For many women carrying multiples, they first need to accept what the new dynamic of their family will be, and work through their feelings.
Women often need to commence parental leave earlier than the average, owing to the additional strains of the pregnancy and associated complications. During the pregnancy, greater medical oversight is involved, also necessitating additional periods of medical leave. Absences prior to delivery deplete leave reserves far earlier than anticipated (if sufficient leave is available at all), resulting in increased financial stress and/or pressure to return to work earlier than planned. It can also contribute enormously to a woman’s perception of their value in the workplace and cause hesitation about how these accommodations will be managed and perceived by their co-workers. By way of example, there is no specific ‘additional’ allowance in the national paid parental leave program for multiple births, so despite becoming a parent to two or more children at the same time, needing greater leave periods prior to birth, and incurring significantly increased expenses, the allowance is the same.
Many of our members report immense anxiety and stress at managing the expectations of both their work and home lives, with rapid depletion of leave entitlements due to ‘tag teaming’ sickness in the household (multiples share everything, including germs!), and the stress of managing the needs of more than one child of the same age. Compounding these issues are also significant periods of sleep deprivation during the earlier years (not just when they are babies, but into toddler years too), a factor that needs far more attention for parents of singletons, moreso for parents of multiples.
Family, friends and social priorities also shift for many multiple birth families. Maintaining strong relationships can be very challenging, particularly during those early years when leaving the house can be difficult and physical / mental resources are limited. Opportunities for developing meaningful connections with other parents are just harder. The village is harder to find, and to maintain. Luckily though, BMBAN has created a wonderful (and thoroughly understanding) village of its own for our members, and we have embraced the available technologies to communicate with our members.
The constant juggle drives innovative solutions
Multiple birth families are always juggling. From the moment a multiples pregnancy is confirmed, parents face an endless sequence of shifting priorities. Whilst a safe birth is always a significant milestone, it is only the start.
For example, parents dealing with NICU stays for one or more children are constantly juggling their time, their energy, their emotional resources and testing the support network they have around them (if any). Many of the women in these situations are also trying to preserve their physical and mental wellbeing, attempting to establish or extend breastfeeding in difficult circumstances, or adapting to onerous mixed and bottle-feeding schedules whilst their body is still recovering from the demands of a high-risk pregnancy (and in many cases, major surgery courtesy of a C-Section delivery).
Many day-to-day tasks that are challenging for any parent can create heightened levels of stress for multiples parents. Loading two (or more) small children into a car safely, is challenging. Physically dressing, changing and moving those children as they get older (and heavier), is challenging. Carting those children from a car, to a pram, to a shopping trolley, to a doctor’s office, to their big sister’s school drop off, is challenging. Women managing their mental wellbeing during extended periods of overstimulation with crying or colicky newborn babies, is challenging. A woman maintaining a positive dynamic with her support network (if she has one) in the midst of sleep deprivation, is challenging. As children grow, shepherding toddlers in a safe manner through a car park or around a swimming pool, is challenging. Shepherding those children through the highs and lows of their adolescent and teen years, even more challenging!
In a fairly practical example, over the years we have seen many an innovative approach to some of the more physical challenges associated with moving multiple children of the same age – carts, wagons, double prams, pram attachments, double trolleys, harnesses, and dog backpacks (just kidding!). If you want to see innovation in practice, watch a multiple birth family navigate a beach trip or weekend away!
How we innovate for the future to safeguard gender equality
The challenges women face in the multiple birth community are in many ways akin to those for women more broadly, but it’s the detail in the differences that sets them apart.
Our members’ lived experience indicates that further improvement is needed in the following areas:
Whilst significant improvements have been made, further direct and indirect financial support is required for multiple birth families, including provision for extended parental leave, and recognition of the greater expenses incurred in multiples pregnancies, to improve the quality of outcomes for women.
Better understanding of the physical and logistical challenges faced by multiple birth families. A need for quality healthcare (including allied health) to help women’s bodies recover in the postpartum period so they have the physical capacity to meet these challenges as their children grow is also important.
More awareness of the significant financial impact that multiple births have on families, noting that for many families they may be placed into a situation where they have more dependants than they planned for.
Greater availability of affordable childcare, and sufficient childcare places to enable women to return to the workforce in a meaningful way, and in the capacity that they want to return in, not the capacity they are forced to return in.
Increased community resources for organisations such as BMBAN that support the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of women in the multiple birth community and to be able to leverage newer technologies in digital education.
Better representation of women in the multiple birth community at all levels of government, and in the broader community.
A better understanding of just how brilliant, resourceful, efficient and innovative women in the multiple birth community are.
Women with multiples are truly the most efficient, collaborative and solution-oriented people you can find. We should be creating opportunities for them to thrive in the workplace, in their community and at home. They will find more innovative solutions in one hour of their time, than many will find in a whole day.
BMBAN has been helping multiple birth communities since 1977. We will continue to innovate for many years to come to support the women in our membership and the greater multiple birth community. We proudly celebrate International Women’s Day in 2023.
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