Help on the double

WHILE the birth of a child is cause for celebration, it can also mean concern and trepidation for families, issues that are magnified when more than one child is born.

Helping families and carers work through these issues is the aim of the Wollongong Multiple Birth Association (WMBA), which works with families located between Helensburgh and Batemans Bay.

Founded more than 20 years ago, the association offers services to its members, including a weekly playgroup session.

"At the moment we've probably got somewhere around 45 members across the area we cover," WMBA committee member Danielle Chapman said.

"Most of them are mums but we have dads and grandparents and other carers involved as well."

"We offer a range of ways to help, we have the playgroup each week for children aged zero to five and we get around 15 to 20 kids showing up each week.

"We also have a resource library here with a huge range of media and information that can be accessed and we also help people get in touch with government agencies and those sorts of things if they need assistance."

From her experiences as a mother of twin boys and as a member of WMBA, Mrs Chapman said one of the biggest issues for parents and carers of multiple birth children is a sense of isolation.

"I definitely think one of the biggest problems is the sense of isolation, most people might go through having one child at a time, which is difficult in itself, but when you're having to look after two or three newborns at a time, it can really feel like you're on your own," Mrs Chapman said.

"Just because there's so much work involved, even the little things, like putting the kids in the car, becomes so much more difficult and it can feel like there isn't anyone who can relate to what you're going through.

"Our playgroup is one of the ways we try to deal with that and so is our buddy system, where we pair an expecting mother with somebody who has gone through a multiple birth to provide advice and support. That seems to work really well."

This year's Multiple Birth Awareness Week, which runs March 9-16, is themed "You're Not Alone" and the association is hoping that message will get out to families and encourage them to seek support groups.

The MBWA meets each Thursday at Horsley Community Centre from 9.30am until noon. For information contact the WMBA by email at or phone 0420 868 047.

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