6. Support For Parenting Multiples
Peer support from Multiple Births Associations
There are local Multiple Births Associations in different parts of Finland. Their services include coaching, get-togethers, cafés, flea markets and many other activities for multiple birth families. Find the association nearest to you and join at www.suomenmonikkoperheet.fi. Most local associations have a website and are on Facebook.
Peer support is also available on the internet and from social media discussion forums focusing on twins, triplets or multiples.
Information and support for parents of premature babies is available from Kevyt – the Association of Premature Babies’ Parents. The association has a discussion forum at www.kevyt.net.
video: Peer support from Multiple Births Associations
video: Why join the Finnish Multiple Birth Association?
Support network of friends, relatives and society
It is advisable to think about your support network during pregnancy: are there grandparents, friends, acquaintances, neighbours or other reliable people available if you need help with child care or housework? Does the municipality where you live provide family work services of the maternity and child health clinic, or are home services available? Examine the existing support networks, preferably before you become exhausted.
video: Where to get help for multiple pregnancy and after the babies are born?
Family benefits for multiple families
The public health nurse writes a certificate of pregnancy after the pregnancy has lasted at least 154 days (about five months). The certificate entitles the mother to apply for Kela benefits.
In order to receive maternity grant, the mother must have a health examination before the end of the fourth month of pregnancy. The examination may be performed by a doctor or a public health nurse at the maternity clinic. Maternity grant is multiplied for multiple birth families.
Maternity leave starts no earlier than 50 weekdays and no later than 30 weekdays before the expected delivery date. If the baby is premature, that is, born earlier than 30 weekdays before the expected date, maternity allowance is paid starting from the next weekday at the latest. If the mother has applied for the maternity allowance period to start 50 weekdays before the expected date and, for example, the babies are born 40 days before the expected date, the start date of the maternity allowance period will not change, but the parental allowance period is prolonged for the mother by the number of days separating the babies’ actual date of birth from the date that falls 30 days before the expected date. If you have not applied for early maternity allowance and your babies are born before your maternity allowance period starts, the maternity allowance period begins on the next day and the parental allowance period is extended by the corresponding number of days, so that the end date does not necessarily change. During the period of maternity leave, maternity allowance is paid to the mother for 105 weekdays. The duration of maternity leave is the same, regardless of whether you have one or multiple babies.
The father of multiple babies can use a maximum of 18 working days of their paternity leave entitlement, followed by additional days of parental allowance, to be able to be at home together with the mother to take care of the babies.
After maternity leave, a parent can take parental leave and receive parental allowance. The parental leave period can be split between the parents.
The parental allowance period starts immediately after the maternity allowance period. The parents of one baby are paid parental allowance for 158 weekdays. If two or more babies are born at the same time, the parental allowance period is prolonged by 60 and 120 additional weekdays for twins and triplets, respectively. These so-called additional days of parental allowance can be used partially or fully during the maternity or parental allowance period or immediately thereafter.
Thus, in multiple birth families, one of the parents can be on parental leave and receive parental allowance, while the other is using additional days of parental allowance. In this way, both parents can be at home taking care of the babies.
You must apply for parental allowance no later than one month before the start of the parental allowance period. You may apply for parental allowance at the same time you apply for maternity or paternity allowance. If the father wants to use additional days of parental allowance immediately following the birth of the babies, it is advisable to submit the application to Kela as soon as possible after the babies are born and ask the clerk at Kela to process it as quickly as possible.
The parental allowance period may be split into a maximum of two periods. If the baby is premature, that is, born earlier than 30 weekdays before the expected date, the parental allowance period is also prolonged.
Paternity leave is the same for fathers of multiple babies and fathers of one baby (born or adopted).
The maximum duration of paternity leave is 54 weekdays (approximately nine weeks). Of these, the father may take 18 weekdays at the same time while the mother is on maternity or parental leave These days may be divided into a maximum of four periods. The father may take paternity leave until the children reach two years old.
The father may also take all of the 54 weekdays of paternity leave after the maternity allowance and parental allowance periods, divided into a maximum of two periods. However, any days of paternity leave taken during the maternity and parental allowance period (max. 18 weekdays) will be subtracted from the number of days available.
Apply for paternity allowance from Kela after the birth of your babies or after you have started your paternity leave. A decision cannot be made until Kela knows the date of birth of the babies. You must apply for paternity allowance no later than within two months of the date on which the children reached two years of age.
The father must inform his employer about paternity leave no later than two months before the start of the leave. If the duration of the leave does not exceed 12 weekdays, informing the employer one month in advance is acceptable. If the babies are very premature, the father has not necessarily had the opportunity to inform the employer about his paternity leave. Therefore, it is advisable to discuss the matter with the employer well in advance and inform them about the planned length of the paternity leave you are going to take when your babies are born. The expected start date of paternity leave is the expected date of delivery. However, you should inform your employer that multiple babies are often born weeks before the expected date and that the start date of your leave may change accordingly.
The amount of child benefit depends on the number of children in the family. You may apply for child benefit in advance, but a decision is not made until your babies are born. The register office informs Kela directly about the birth of your babies.
Both parents at home taking care of the babies
Parents of multiples would often like to get more information on how the father can take family leave at the same time as the mother. Half of all multiple birth babies are born prematurely before the 37th week of pregnancy. This means unanticipated changes to plans.
Parents of twins can stay at home together for the maximum amount of time if the father takes 18 days of paternity leave and then the 60 weekdays of prolonged parental leave while the mother is receiving maternity or parental allowance. This makes a total of approximately 13 weeks. (In addition, the father has the right to take the rest of his paternity leave days. The father may also take normal parental leave. During these periods of leave, the mother cannot receive family benefits.)
More information about all benefits: http://www.kela.fi/web/en/multiple-birth-families and http://www.kela.fi/web/en
video: What kind of family benefits are there for twin or triplet pregnancies?
Your well-being is important
The well-being of parents is important. Remember to reserve time for yourself and for activities that promote your well-being. Exercise, listening to music, meeting friends or some other activity of your own is a great recharger of batteries in daily life, particularly when life is demanding.
video: Parents can take parental leave simultaneously
video: Parents qualitytime
Finally, we want to wish you all the best and lots of luck on your wonderful and exciting journey towards parenting multiples!
‘Can you imagine, some people are so unlucky that they only have one baby in their tummy.’
– Aino, age 3, a twin.
Questions and assignments:
At the maternity clinic, discuss the possibility of getting municipal home help after the birth of the babies.
Find out whether the maternity and child health clinic, hospital and/or local Multiple Births Association arrange coaching for multiple birth families in your municipality.
Find your nearest local Multiple Births Association at www.suomenmonikkoperheet.fi. There you will also find instructions on joining.
Are you on a tight budget and leading a challenging life with small children? Think about ways of balancing your family’s economy.
Find out whether your family could go on a supported holiday: www.lomajarjestot.fi Information about supported holidays for multiple birth families is available at the Multiple Births Association’s website at www.suomenmonikkoperheet.fi