Combatting challenges faced by families of multiples

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Families with multiples bring a lot of joy but come with challenges too. Photo: Multiples2Multiples SocietyBlessings come in doubles, so goes a popular saying and with children being considered a gift from God, Dr. Liz Wala must have the jackpot after giving birth to triplets five years ago. Behind the fascination that comes with having multiples however, there lies struggles unique to such families that hides behinds the fascination.

It is these struggles that Multiples2Multiples, a society that offers support to families with multiple children, is trying to address. Formed five years ago after giving birth to her girl triplets, Dr. Liz Wala tried looking for information pertaining to raising multiplesin Kenya but hit a dead end.

“I tried looking online but there was nothing. I was even surprised that I could not find a book on the same so I had to order online from Amazon,” said Dr.Wala.

Over the five years, Dr. Wala has come to realize that there are problems unique to families with multiples and it is this issue the society tries to address.
“When raising multiples, one must first understand that everything comes in doubles, triples, quadruples or more,” said Dr. Wala. “For instance cots and strollers are hard to come buy so you will find parents selling their old ones on the group,” she said.

The group also offers tips for even the most mundane of topics such as stepping out of the house. “When you get multiples you realize that movement becomes limited because coordinating everyone is a bit of a problem,” said Dr. Wala.
On the online community one will find advice such as getting a bigger or even triplet car seats being sold. They even advice each other on how to handle the glares, stares and constant questioning when out in the public.
“Parents are even joking that we should come up with a list of frequently asked questions,” said Dr. Wala.

Registered in 2011 as a society, Multiples2Multiples would like to move to bigger things by engaging policy change to suit families of multiples. One of these is maternity leave. “We would like a part included to suit those expecting multiples because often you will see that mothers have get off work early on and then they return to work when they are very young,” said Dr.Wala.

Another policy change that Multiples2Multiples would like to influence is the Breastmilk Substitutes (Regulation and Control) Act 2012 which prohibits the advertisement and promotion of designated and complementary food products. According to the Kenya Gazzette Supplement Acts 2012, a designated food product includes formula, breast milk fortifiers, infant formulas.

This poses a problem for many mothers of mutiples because according to Dr.Wala, their breast milk is not always enough. “I understand that breast milk is best but when you have three or four mouths to feed it can prove quite challenging,” she said. This goes without saying there are women who stop breastfeeding due to low milk supply.

The lack of information on formula therefore causes women to supplement their babies diets with other foods which according to Dr.Wala are even more harmful as it can cause injury to the baby's gut which can take weeks to recvover.
“You will see some parents for instance give their babies porridge,” she said.
Mutiples2Multiples would therefore like to see this act revised to cater to the plight of parents with multiple children.

Lastly, the society would like to champion for more maternity health covers to cater for high-risk pregnancies. “In Kenya, many insurance policies do not cover high-risk pregnancies which is very common among multiple pregnancies. This therefore ends up being very expensive for the family yet they still have more obligations that await them,” said Dr.Wala.

It is through these changes that Multiples2Multiples hopes to not only raise awareness only raise awareness on the challenges faced by families with multiples but also make their lives easier.

For more information on Multiples2Multiples Society, call +254722775932, visit their website, Facebook page or contact them on Twitter-@M2Multiples.

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