Mothers who have multiple births and their babies

Multiple births are births of more than one baby from a single pregnancy, and include twins, triplets and higher order multiples.

This section looks at mothers who have multiple births by maternal age, timing of first antenatal visit, onset of labour and method of birth. Topics for babies of multiple births are birthweight, gestational age, Apgar score at 5 minutes, admission to special care nurseries (SCN) or neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and length of hospital stay.

The number of multiple births in Australia each year is small, and has remained relatively stable at around 2-3% of all births (from 9,285 (3.1%) of births in 2009 to 8,915 (2.9%) of births in 2019).

In 2019, of this small proportion, almost all multiple births (98%) were twins, while the remaining 2% were other multiples (that is, triplets, quadruplets or higher).

The figure shows a line graph of trends in the proportion of women who had a multiple birth by a range of topics including Indigenous status (mother), remoteness area and socioeconomic status from 2009 to 2019. In 2019, 4,428 women had a multiple birth.

Visualisation not available for printing

Most mothers of multiples attended an antenatal visit in the first trimester (81%) and had 5 or more antenatal visits (94%). 

Over half of mothers had no labour, and this proportion has increased over time (47% in 2009 compared with 57% in 2019). Mothers of multiples therefore had a high rate of caesarean sections (71%).

The figure shows a line graph of trends in the proportion of babies who were born as part of a multiple birth by a range of topics including admission to SCN/NICU, gestational age and presentation over 2009 to 2019. In 2019, 8,915 babies were born as part of a multiple birth.

The vast majority of babies from multiple births had an Apgar score of 7–10 at 5 minutes (95%), indicating that they have adapted well post-birth. More than half of babies in multiple births were born low birthweight (56%) or pre-term (66%), including babies who were both low birthweight and pre-term. As a result, 68% of multiple births were admitted to SCN or NICU, and 51% had hospital stays of 6 days or more.