Double the Fun

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Every book on parenting will tell you that life forever changes after the birth of a child. So parents of twins or higher-order multiples (triplets or more) can feel as if they’ve left the hospital and arrived home on a different planet.

Yet multiple births are more common than ever, as more couples have babies later in life or turn to fertility treatments, both of which increase the chances of having multiples. The incidence of twin and higher-order multiple births has climbed rapidly over the last two decades. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of twin births in the United States increased 74%, and the number of higher order multiples increased fivefold. Today, about 3% of babies in the U.S. are born in sets of two, three, or more. Most of these multiple births (about 95%) are twins.

The arrival of multiple newborns presents certain medical, logistical, financial, and emotional challenges for a family. But the upswing in twins, triplets, quadruplets, and more also means an increase in resources to help those families. Often, parents who are expecting multiples find that other families who’ve been through the experience are a great help.

Changes Accompanying the Birth of Multiples
Some of the differences in lifestyle that multiple births will require are easy to anticipate. Standards for household neatness will likely have to relax for a few years, unless you can afford to hire a house-cleaning service. You’ll get a lot less sleep, as multiple babies require frequent feeding and care at night.

The financial impact also can be significant. Any costs associated with newborns — for diapers, clothing, food and medication, high chair, toys, car seats, etc. — are exponentially higher. Even the cost of health care for the delivery of twins is four times higher than with a single birth. Add to this the cost of expanded living space, a larger vehicle, and possibly part-time help in the home. One partner may even need to give up an income to stay home and take care of the babies.

Also, because of the high rate of disability in kids born as part of higher-order births, particularly those born prematurely, there’s the possibility of having to manage the costs associated with caring for a child with a lifelong disability.