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Mothers of twins or triplets twice as likely to suffer postnatal depression

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Mothers of twins or triplets are almost twice as likely to suffer postnatal depression as mothers of single children, a survey has shown.

The online poll of over 1000 mothers found 17% of mothers who had multiple births had experienced postnatal depression. A further 18% said they were unsure if they had been depressed.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates 10% of all mothers suffer postnatal depression, which causes feelings of helplessness and anxiety.

The survey, conducted by the Twins and Multiple Births Association, found mothers who suffered postnatal depression reported less sleep and less help from friends and family than non-sufferers. They were also more likely to have developed complications during pregnancy and received poor quality care.

Half of the respondents reported spending less than an hour a day talking to another adult, and many said they felt isolated.

A small number of women reported that they had walked out on their babies, but returned. Others said they felt alone, cried regularly, self-harmed and had contemplated suicide.

Many mothers who suffered postnatal depression said they had not received leaflets about postnatal depression from health visitors who had promised to supply them with the information.

President of the Twins and Multiple Births Association and former public health director, Judi Linney MBE, said: ‘At present many families struggle because not all of the NHS is sufficiently informed and equipped to meet the challenges of multiple births and pregnancies.

‘Improving access to multiple-specific parent education and providing practical support during the early days would do much to promote the health and wellbeing of mothers and their babies.’

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