While there is awareness that multiple birth pregnancies and postnatal experiences
are more challenging generally, little is known of the mental health impacts.
To explore multiple birth mothers pregnancy experience and mental health outcomes
during pregnancy, following delivery and postnatally.
An open online anonymous survey was used to collect data from multiple birth parents,
1006 responses were collected. 713 completed the survey fully, providing very detailed
responses to open-ended questions, whilst 293 provided high level responses only.
The challenges of a multiple birth pregnancy was associated with high levels of mental
distress and mental health problems. 73.3% of respondents noted that they experienced
challenges during their pregnancy, and of these, 84.7% cited these challenges as directly
impacting upon their emotional or mental health. Despite the challenges, 70% of these
respondents did not seek treatment or a diagnosis. At birth, 73.7% of those surveyed
had a caesarean delivery and another 2.3% had at least one baby delivered via caesarean.
Almost 28% of respondents reporting experiencing a traumatic birth, with over 60%
not seeking support or treatment.
The heightened risk of postnatal mental health problems and emotional distress is
indicated with 69% of respondents experiencing stress, anxiety and/or depression in
the postnatal period. In addition, over three quarters (77.5%) experienced feelings
Conclusion and Implications
The results reveal the significantly higher risks of emotional and mental health distress
for parents of multiple births. This begins in the antenatal period, and continues
at birth and throughout the postnatal period. The results highlight the imperative
need for information, screening and early detection, support and treatment. Given
the high prevalence of emotional and mental health distress, low rates of help-seeking,
and isolation, the need for continued advocacy to support the unique needs of this
population group is urgently needed.