Research by Tamba have found that mothers to be of multiple babies are not warned that their babies may need to spend time in a neonatal unit. With a figure of 1 in 5 expectant mothers of twins, triplets or more not being warned have now got access to a “Multiple Births – A Parents’ Guide to Neonatal Care”, a new free guide to help prepare them prepare themselves. Created by Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association) and Bliss, the special care baby charity.
A recent online survey by Tamba of over 688 parents of multiples who had their babies in the last 18 months found that 1 in 5 (21%), or an estimated 2,310 mothers of multiples, are unprepared for the possibility that their babies are more likely to be born early and need care in a neonatal unit. Of those parents who said they were unprepared, over a half (54%) went on to have one or more baby needing this type of care. Without adequate preparation, many of these parents were alarmed and in some cases traumatised by the experience. Many more found it practically difficult to cope. Tamba and Bliss are reminding all health professionals to advise expectant parents of this possibility and are launching a new guide to support them.
The survey also found multiples are more likely to be born early, with 57% of twins born before their expected due date of 37 weeks (11% before 32 weeks). Babies born from a multiple birth are smaller, with 8% under 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) and 45% between 1.5 and 2.5kg (3lb 5oz – 5lb 8oz). 46% of all twin families and 94% of triplet families required special care for one or more of their babies. Pleasingly, the vast majority of parents had extremely positive experiences of special care units.
Keith Reed, Tamba’s CEO said, “It appears that some health professionals, on occasion, forget to advise expectant parents of multiples that their babies may need treatment in a neonatal unit. In other instances, parents may have been told but not picked up on the fact. Either way, the point needs stressing and ideally more than once. It’s such a simple thing that can make an enormous difference to our families.”
Bliss’ Head of Fundraising and Marketing, Caley Eldred said, “Women pregnant with multiple births are at greater risk of giving birth prematurely and it is important to ensure that they are given information to help them prepare. With the right support on the unit and from our joint resources, multiple birth parents can be well placed to make the most of their early parenting experience.”
Kate Spencer a mother of twins born at 32 weeks who spent almost a month receiving neonatal care said, ‘I knew that it was a possibility that the twins may be born early but did not think for a minute that they would be born so premature. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared for them being rushed away straight after delivery. I only heard them cry and did not get a glimpse of them until 29 hours later. Even then I could not see their faces properly due to the amount of tubes, and the machines just beeped constantly. It would have made such a difference to have been prepared for this possibility.”
For more information about Bliss, visit www.bliss.org.uk
 2% of twins were born before 27 weeks; 8.7% between 27-32 weeks; 46.7% between 32-37 weeks; and 42.6% over 37 weeks. The survey contained some surprising results for higher-order multiples (who are typically born earlier), for example no triplets were born before 27 weeks and no quads were born before 32 weeks.