Despite the expanding literature on empirically supported strategies for treating perinatal mental health concerns in new mothers, no published reports have examined tailored support interventions for parents of twins or higher-order multiples. The goal of this study was to improve our understanding of the unique postpartum experiences of new mothers of multiples, gauge interest in both traditional and e-health approaches to mental health care, and discuss aspects of mental health treatment viewed to be most helpful.
Twenty-eight women who had given birth to their first set of multiples within the past year were recruited online. Participants completed self-report measures of depression, anxiety, and sleep disruption and took part in telephone focus groups.
On average, participants had elevated depression and anxiety symptoms and notably disrupted sleep. Although some positive elements of the postpartum period were noted, most participants described this time as stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting. They identified experiences that were unexpected or unique to parenting multiples and indicated numerous desired aspects of mental health treatment. Interest in internet-delivered care was especially high.
This study lays the groundwork for the development of a targeted psychosocial intervention to address mental health concerns among new mothers of multiples, particularly those who are already engaged and seeking support and community online. This report also suggests myriad ways in which providers can best address the needs of this population (eg, utilize providers with expertise in multiples, deliver care in the home, use e-health approaches, and normalize unique stressors and negative moods).