Early parental interactions with and perceptions of multiple birth infants
The perceptions and interactions of mothers and fathers of seven sets of twins and one set of triplets were compared to those of parents of 49 singleton infants. Couples were typically interviewed together three times during the pregnancy and at 1 week and 3 months post-partum. Two-weekly observations of mother–father–infant interactions were conducted after the first postnatal interview. Three major themes were apparent in the interviews — the positive and negative specialness for multiple births, difficulties involved in managing more than one infant, and attachment issues — that were also evident during the observations. Although there were few differences in care-giving and interactive behaviours between the multiple birth and singleton parents, the logistics of caring for more than one infant dictated that multiple birth infants were left alone more and looked at, talked to and held less often. Couples used different strategies to care for their infants, varying in both the extent to which they interacted preferentially with the infants and in the relative involvement of the mother, father and others.