With Multiple Birth Awareness Week on 11-17 March, we sit down with Kelly Kilah President of the Sunshine Coast Multiple Birth Association (SCMBA) to find out about life as a parent of multiples and what our community can do to better support these amazing families.
What is your background and what brought you to working with multiple birth families?
I am a high school marine Science teacher. I became pregnant with twins in 2014 which was no surprise considering my husband’s family (his dad is a triplet and he has twin sisters). I went to an expectant parents’ night and realised I needed to join the multiple birth group to get through it all.
Tell us about the challenges that multiple birth families face?
To start with they face difficult and risky pregnancies, usually requiring extra monitoring and care. Once the babies arrive and they have two or more to care for at once, they require more milk for breastfeeding, or twice as much formula, they need more space to sleep them, more nappies all at once, longer times to feed two or more babies. The first six months are very challenging – especially if they are your first babies.
There are always two babies to hold and comfort and often more wakings during the night which results in even more tiredness. As they get older the pressure (or mum’s guilt) of trying to give both babies the same amount of attention, while seeing to their needs and yours, is immense.
What services do SCMBA provide to support multiple birth families?
We provide a wide variety of material things to help families: discounted breast pump hire, low cost feeding pillow hire, new family member packs of clothes, books and brochures, free events during the year (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas Party and Multiple Birth Awareness Week event). But more importantly we provide opportunities for regular catch ups in the form of playgroups. It is well documented that an effective support network can help you get through anything in life, and that is what we are for families with multiples.
With Multiple Awareness Week happening this month, why do you feel that more awareness about life with multiples is needed in the community?
I feel (after experiencing it) that being a new parent to one child, let alone multiples is the hardest thing I have faced in my life so far and I benefited so much from the support that I found in the Sunshine Coast Multiple Birth Association. I want to ensure that anyone experiencing a multiple pregnancy or birth knows where they can get advice, help and support – all from people who have been there themselves before. If we can make someone here on the Coast aware of Multiple Birth Associations, they can tell their niece or cousin or daughter in another town or state
or country, to look up their local Association and get the specific support they need.
What can local families do to best support multiple birth families in their community/friendship group?
If it is someone they know, just show up and offer help – an arm (or two) to hold a baby, hang the washing or bring a casserole for dinner. Simple things that make family life easier. Otherwise, support our fundraising efforts – raffles, bake sales or make donations such as premmie or baby clothes.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Every year the Sunshine Coast Multiple Birth Association hosts an event during Multiple Birth Awareness Week. This year the theme is Strength in Numbers. The event is on March 18. We have always known that this should be the motto of the multiple parent – we gain so much knowledge, security and friendship by becoming part of an Association like ours. Let’s celebrate it! To find out more about SCMBA and their events, head to their website at www.scmba.org.au.
The Sunshine Coast Multiple Birth Association has many close partnerships with local businesses that understand the challenges of multiples and generously help our member families by offering 2 for 1 entries to their venues, or discounts for their products or donations for our raffles. In 2017 we were supported by Rip Curl, The Ginger Factory, Buderim Tavern, Maroochy RSL, Sunshine Coast Council, Happy Snack Company, The Imperial Hotel and April Johnston Photography. We support these businesses in return by promoting them within our Association and holding events at their venues. This year we are hosting five Education Evenings about raising babies, toddlers and children in today’s world which will be open to the public. We will have a variety of expert guest speakers from nutritionists, sleep consultants and psychologists.
PICTURE: Kelly with husband Brendon and twins Emma and Aaron