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.
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:
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.
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: