Multiple Birth Awareness Week (March 11 to 18)

As a parent, there can be many challenges associated with carrying, delivering and raising two or more children at once. To share some insight, we spoke to Australian Multiple Birth Awareness (AMBA) chairperson and mother to identical twin girls, Ashlee Tenberge. Ms Tenberge shares tips for parents and explains why accessing the right support is so vitally important.

What are some of the challenges that new parents to multiples may face?

Having a multiple pregnancy is more high risk in terms of a number of health concerns. There’s a high risk of pre-term delivery and increased risk of things like gestational diabetes.

If you have your baby full-term, (the main challenge is) trying to manage more than one baby at a time. It’s significant and it’s one of the things that’s quite hard for anyone who hasn’t had multiples to get their head around. You have two babies who need feeding at the same time, burping, nappy changes, and there are sleeping challenges. Then there’s the financial impact – parents have to buy two or more of most things.

What challenges did you face as your girls grew up?

As they got older, one of the main challenges was trying to engage with my girls on an individual level. Even though they’re twins and they’re identical, it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re the same or that they like the same things. In fact, my two are chalk and cheese, despite the fact that they look exactly the same!

It’s really important that the parents or guardians, through the toddler years, start trying to develop individual relationships. That needs to transfer into the schooling environment as well, with teachers understanding that multiples are not a single unit. They are individuals with individual needs, wants, desires and learning abilities.

What have you enjoyed most about being a parent to multiples?

I’ve enjoyed seeing how my girls relate to each other. There’s the sibling bond, but then there’s definitely this twin thing. They don’t have some special language or anything, but they just seem to ‘get’ each other. I look at them sometimes and see that they look exactly the same, but they’re so different. It’s just amazing for me to watch as a parent, to see how they’ve grown and developed.

What are your tips for new parents to multiples?

The ‘strength in numbers’ theme for us this year was really around (the concept of) finding your tribe. When you’re raising multiples, you need a lot of support, which is the reason AMBA exists. It’s about finding strength through having your family and friends around to support you; it’s finding strength through creating a network with people who understand what you’re going through.

You’re not alone! It’s a really unique community and no one understands it like another family that’s gone through the same thing. The overall message is to reach out!

Support is available

You can find your nearest club via the AMBA website: https://www.amba.org.au/clubfinder. If you need medical support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! We support expectant and new mothers, including those of multiples, with everything from antenatal care (including maternity shared care), to personalised advice about breastfeeding and many postnatal issues.