Having one child is daunting enough for new parents – but imagine how it feels to be told you are expecting twins or triplets.
But parents in South Yorkshire have somewhere to turn to for help, advice and support – the Sheffield Twins and Multiples Club.
The club began almost 30 years ago and now has 180 members across the region.
Current members include several families with triplets – and one adjusting to life with quadruplets.
Its thriving Facebook page and website is a one-stop shop for supporting families, offering advice on how to cope with more than one newborn, feeding, sleeping arrangements and equipment.
Members also regularly meet up after giving birth to discuss how life is going and to continue to offer each other support.
Carron Charlesworth, of Birdwell, Barnsley, joined the group in 2011 shortly after discovering she was having twins, Eliza and Freddie, now aged three.
The 39-year-old and husband Mark, 47, already a dad-of-two, planned to only have one child together so it came as a shock to discover they were having two.
She said: “I panicked and Googled having twins. I needed to find a club that was full of members like me, which is how I found the Sheffield Twins and Multiples Club.
“We went into this kind of shock where we pretended it wasn’t happening until we came round to the idea. When we started to go for scans it started to become more real.
“I didn’t really meet up with anyone in the group until I had the babies and was on maternity leave.”
Carron became chairman of the group in 2012 and has seen the group flourish in the last 12 months.
She said: “There is a definite need for us. The issue that we have is that many people in the medical profession don’t know about is.
“Midwives and health visitors don’t know to point people in our direction and it shocks me how few know about our club. A lot of people come to us through word of mouth or see the posters in Jessop’s.”
Laura Hollister, 32, of Hillsborough, is one of the new mums who saw a poster advertising a talk at the club while having a scan.
Despite being parents to two-year-old Elliott, Laura and husband Martin, 33, were not sure what to expect after they discovered they were having twins. Laura, who gave birth to Aaron and Lucas in July, said: “We already had a two-year-old but we thought things were going to be a bit different.
“We had a lot of questions about practical things, like how to fit three car seats safely in the car, which turns out you can’t do. The midwife didn’t have many answers about practical things.
“We went along to a talk by Carron and there were some other people having twins around the same time as us and we’ve met up since.
“You can post things on the club’s Facebook page and get answers. You can also buy things a lot cheaper on there too, compared with eBay.”
Now Laura has been given the task of arranging the club’s biggest social gathering of the year – its Christmas party. Around 250 people, including 150 children, will descended on City Limits, on Penistone Road, Sheffield, on Sunday, November 30, from 2pm to 4pm.
Laura said: “We’re looking for a bit of help to make the party a bit more of a celebration for some very busy and stretched parents with some really special children.”
The group is seeking raffle prizes, particularly suitable for adults, along with party food to make their celebration extra special – to help is contact Carron on email@example.com.
n To join the Sheffield Twins and Multiples Club visit its website Sheffield Twins & Multiples Club or join its page on Facebook.