Finding out you’re pregnant with twins (or more!) can be a bit of a shock, and certainly the prospect of dealing with more than one newborn at once can be a bit overwhelming. But there is plenty of support available for you and your family.
Did you know that the number of women having twins or multiple births is increasing?
- 11,073 mothers had a multiple birth in 2015:
- 10,901 of them had twins
- 169 had triplets
- 3 had quads or even more.
This means that 16 women in every 1,000 giving birth in 2015 had a multiple birth (Office of National Statistics).
If you’re pregnant and expecting more than one baby, a healthy diet and lifestyle will make your pregnancy easier as well as giving your babies the best start in life. Whether you’re expecting twins, triplets or just one baby, the advice is similar: Eat well, take gentle exercise, drink lots of fluid and, if you feel stressed, make sure you get support from friends and family, or talk to your midwife.
Expecting two babies rather than just one doesn’t mean you have to eat significantly more. However, it’s normal to put on more weight than a woman who’s only carrying one baby. More help around healthy eating during a multiple pregnancy is available on NHS Choices.
It’s also important to attend all your antenatal appointments so your maternity team can keep a close eye on you and your babies. They’ll also help you to understand your birth options if you are expecting more than one baby. Twins and triplets are not only more likely to be born early, but are also more likely to need special care after birth than single babies.
Further support when you’re expecting twins
You’re not entitled to extra maternity or paternity benefits if you’re expecting twins or multiple babies. Your entitlements to leave and pay are the same as if you were expecting one baby. But you can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for each of your children. If you’re on a low income and getting certain benefits or tax credits, you could get a Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a one-off payment to help towards the cost of maternity and baby items. If you already have children under 16, you can only get a grant if you’re expecting a multiple birth.
During the antenatal period, you’ll also have an opportunity to meet with your health visitor who will give you more information about local support through social services and other organisations. It’s worth also having a look at this leaflet from The Multiple Birth Foundation (MBF) and checking out the advice on NHS Choices.
Other organisations who provide support include:
The Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba) provides lots of information on its website and also has a dedicated freephone helpline called ‘Twinline’, which is open every day from 10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm. Call 0800 138 0509.