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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 23:21 GMT 00:21 UK
Multiple mums call for classes
Jane Elliott
BBC News Online health staff

Linda Jones with twins Emily and Melissa
There are few courses for multiple births

Linda Jones felt out of place in her ante-natal classes.

Her bump was larger than those of the other women, she was more likely to need a caesarean, and there was a much greater chance her child would be premature, needing treatment and monitoring in a special care unit.

Linda was expecting twins.

But she says a lack of special courses designed specifically for mothers-to-be of multiple babies, left her feeling an oddity.

Courses

"To have had our own course would have been fantastic, nobody would have been treating me and the other mum who was having twins as an add-on.

"Because I was having twins I was huge. The jaws of the other mums used to drop when they saw me.

"There was no consideration on the course for the fact that our babies could come early.

"I would have liked them to have taken us for a visit of special care and to talk to us about the problems of breast feeding.

This is one time that one plus one definitely does not equal two
Cindy Carter

"I had so many questions that the midwife could not answer."

Linda, whose twin girls Emily and Melissa are now aged four, said that although multiple births could be problematic, there were also benefits which were too often understated.

"Having two babies is difficult, but it is very positive as well."

Needs

A recent article, by childbirth educator Cindy Carter, in the International Journal of Childbirth Education, calls for special classes for mothers expecting more than one baby.

"This is one time that one plus one definitely does not equal two.

"Having multiples changes your life.

"Multiple moms have a lot of fears and some very real questions that need to be addressed prenatally: What if I can't truly love and meet the needs of two, three or four babies at the same time?

"How do I meet their individual needs and not show favourites?

"Is it possible to breastfeed twins? Triplets? When am I going to sleep?

"What if one of the babies doesn't survive? Are they still a twin/triplet/quad?"

Ms Carter said it was also important that mothers having a multiple birth should be offered a tour of neonatal intensive and special care units.

Tailored

Helen Forbes, director of Twins and Multiple Births Association (Tamba), said there were not nearly enough dedicated courses for parents of twins.

In places they were being offered, midwives were often running the courses in their own time, she added.

"There are some parts of the country where dedicated midwives do run courses, but you do have to be very lucky."

She said Tamba was working with one local hospital to encourage specially tailored classes for parents expecting a multiple birth, as the requirements were very different from singleton births.

"The babies are often born early, particularly with triplets.

"So if they go to ordinary classes they have often already given birth by the time they start, and so they often do not get any class or preparation."

Melanie Every, of the Royal College of Midwives said: "Given the lack of resources available, trusts need to concentrate on the needs of the majority of their clients.

"So you are more likely, therefore, to have specialist antenatal classes for women expecting a multiple birth in large regional units that have a high number of multiple births."


SEE ALSO:
Many of us were once a twin
18 Oct 01  |  Health
Twins in school - together or apart?
28 Aug 01  |  Education
Number of twins on increase
05 Jul 01  |  Health
Birth of twins defies odds
01 Aug 00  |  Wales


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