Bringing up twins or triplets

Mother with her twins

Although raising twins or triplets can be a joyful experience, you should consider the possible effects on your emotional and financial resources, which are often overlooked. These affect life with twins not just as babies but as they get older as well.

What are the possible emotional costs?

Having a new baby brings its own stresses as well as joys and the emotional challenges of dividing care and attention between two children can be unexpectedly difficult.

  • A number of studies have shown that parents who have twins after fertility treatment find it harder to cope than parents of naturally conceived twins. It is not clear why this is, but it has been suggested that because IVF parents have wanted children so much, it makes them feel less entitled to seek help if they are exhausted or overwhelmed.
  • Some mothers and families with twins experience severe parenting stress, particularly first-time parents.
  • Depression in mothers of twins is more common than in mothers of singletons. This is not just after the birth, but in the early years as well. Social isolation and fatigue are contributory factors.
  • Parents of twins are more likely to go through marital stress and divorce after the birth of the children than parents of singleton babies.
  • Research shows that parents of singleton babies are more likely to enjoy family life and feel confident about parenting.

What are the possible financial costs?

Although it may seem unimportant compared with the arrival of the longed-for children, the financial burden of a multiple birth can present serious problems. Child care costs and possibly the need for a bigger house and car, in addition to daily needs, should also be considered.

  • In the UK, there is no statutory entitlement to grants or benefits for parents of twins or triplets. You are entitled to receive child benefit for each child at the usual rate, plus additional credits depending on your income.
  • Having twins may affect one or both parents’ ability to work, particularly to work away from home.
  • A recent US study found that with each additional multiple birth child, the odds of having difficulty meeting basic material needs more than tripled.

The expert says...

Jane Denton

"Even with healthy twins, coping with the demands of two children simultaneously can be overwhelming. Twins and triplets cannot be compared with closely spaced siblings as some people assume. The greatest challenge is treating each child as an individual."

Ms Jane Denton, Director of the Multiple Births Foundation

Have you had or begun IVF treatment recently?

The HFEA want to hear your views on single embryo transfer.

Your feedback will help them develop their approach to the risk of multiple births from fertility treatment.

  • What did your clinic discuss with you?
  • How did you decide on the number of embryos to transfer?

Let them know in this patient questionnaire