Mothers of multiple births are almost twice as likely to suffer Post Natal Depression than mums of single children, according to research from Tamba, the Twins and Multiple Births Association.
Mother of triplets, Maggie Couston, also a Clinical Psychologist, says, ‘The months after my triplets’ birth should have been a joyful experience but instead I felt exhausted and isolated. My babies were the most precious thing in the world to me, but I thought I wasn’t good enough for them, and frequently thought of ending things or walking away.’
More than 1,000 mothers of multiples responded to the 2008 Tamba Health and Lifestyle survey: 17% of respondents had experienced PND, whilst a further 18% were ‘not sure’ if they had. This is nearly double the number of all mothers who suffer PND (10%).
A small number of women had walked out on their babies, but returned. Others felt alone, cried regularly, some self-harmed, and a few contemplated suicide.
The Tamba survey revealed that some fathers of multiples also suffered from PND.
The Tamba survey found that mothers who experienced PND were:
- Less likely to have attended multiple-specific parent education classes
- Less likely to be a member of Tamba
- More likely to have received poor quality antenatal care
- More likely to have developed pregnancy complications
- These mothers also had less sleep and less help from friends and family.
Half of all respondents spent less than an hour a day talking to another adult, and many described feeling profoundly isolated.
Many mothers who suffered PND cited: health visitors who promised to drop off leaflets about PND but did not do so; doctors who told mothers they could not be treated when breastfeeding; and advice to ‘take more time for yourself’ without any prospect of help to look after their babies.
Being aware that you are at increased risk of PND as a mother of multiples should help you and your family look out for the danger signs and be ready to seek help quickly if necessary.
Tamba provides support for multiple birth families, including the Twinline (open 10am–1pm and 7pm-10pm) and website. The Twinline number is 0800 138 0509.