Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 163–176 | Cite as

Raising multiples: mental health of mothers and fathers in early parenthood

  • Susan J. Wenze
  • Cynthia L. Battle
  • Katherine M. Tezanos
Review Article


The rate of twin and higher-order gestation births has risen dramatically in recent decades in the United States as well as other Western countries. Although the obstetrical and neonatal risks of multiple gestation pregnancies are well-documented, much less is known regarding the mental health impact on parents of multiples during the perinatal and early parenthood period. Given that parents of multiples face greater functional demands, as well as other pressures (financial, medical) this population may be at risk for heightened distress. We conducted a systematic review of quantitative, English language studies that assessed mental health outcomes of parents of multiples during pregnancy, in the first postpartum year, and in the period of early parenthood, including depression, anxiety, stress, and related constructs. Twenty-seven articles published between 1989 and 2014 met selection criteria and were included in the review. Studies utilized a wide range of methods and outcome constructs, often making comparisons difficult. Although some studies found no differences, most investigations that compared mental health outcomes in parents of multiples versus parents of singletons found that parents of multiples experience heightened symptoms of depression, anxiety, and parenting stress. We discuss gaps in the existing body of literature on parental mental health related to multiple gestation birth and conclude by discussing the need for novel intervention strategies to meet the needs of this growing population. Parents of multiples may experience worse mental health outcomes than parents of singletons. More research is needed, and future work should explore potential treatment and support options.


Perinatal Pregnancy Postpartum Parent Mental health Multiples Twins 



The preparation of this manuscript was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant K23 MH093410 awarded to SJW.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan J. Wenze
    • 1
    • 2
  • Cynthia L. Battle
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Katherine M. Tezanos
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLafayette CollegeEastonUSA
  2. 2.Warren Alpert Medical SchoolBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Butler HospitalProvidenceUSA
  4. 4.Women & Infants’ Hospital of Rhode IslandProvidenceUSA

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