This is a Clarion Call on the Nigerian National Assembly and The States’ Houses of Assembly to prevail on the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Government to provide better and sustainable support for Twins and Multiple birth families, including both financial and non-financial support.
Through my own recent experience, I believe that there is a gross lack of support for families who have multiple births from a single pregnancy (twins, triplets, quadruplets, and other higher Multiples).
Multiple births are generally treated the same as singleton births in terms of support available to families. However, while this approach may benefit government and employers, it puts families who have multiple births at a disadvantage.
There are a lot of similarities in the way singleton and multiple births are treated. In fact, while it is understood that the Nigerian Government have responsibility for different aspects of support, there are very few differences, even although one parent is having one child and another parent is having multiple children. For example—
- Maternity Leave
- Maternity Pay:
But there is a stark difference between having two (or more) singleton children (separate births) and having multiple births. One example is in terms of returning to work where, as a generalisation, the more children a family has in one birth, the less likely it is that they will be financially and physically able to go back to work in a full time (or close to full time) capacity due to high nursery fees for multiple children at once, whereas it is more likely that this would be possible for a parent of a singleton child.
There is also a concern in terms of the provision of child benefit, due to the financial pressure of having multiple children at once (e.g many families have premature children, struggle to breastfeed and therefore rely on expensive formula milk; many pieces of equipment, such as car seats, beds, food, etc., require to be bought twice).
The same expenditure mechanism applies to multiple children.
The Twins and Multiple Births Association (“TAMBA”) also recognises that there is a need to address this issue. They have collaborated on studies and published a number of reports that show how having multiples affects families financially, emotionally, socially and physically. These include “The Effects of Twins and Multiple Births on Families and Their Living Standards” and “Cost of Childcare in Households with Multiple Births”. Yet there has been little, if any, progress.
Better provision and accessibility of services such as Home Start, multiples’ clubs and infant feeding specialists would I believe be a positive start for parents and their multiple birth children, as would encouraging healthcare professionals to be mindful of multiple birth families (for example, providing one prescription / minor ailments treatment per child, rather than grouping multiples together).
Having multiples is a privilege. However, it is well documented that relationship breakdown, high risk pregnancy, financial worries and post natal depression, to name a few, are more prevalent in families with multiples.
Improved support would help families be better off financially, physically and emotionally, easing the transition to parenthood, reducing the financial strain, encouraging parents of multiples back into the workplace and supporting family relationships.
God bless you.
Godwin Chinonso Ezeaka
(Secretary BoT, Twins and Multiple Births Care Foundation