Guidelines for Media Coverage of Multiple Birth Families
Multiple births, especially higher-order multiples (triplets or more), can generate considerable public interest. Traditional and electronic media frequently feature stories about families who are expecting, welcoming or parenting multiples. Many of these stories offer wonderful glimpses into the unique lives of these special families. But because media projects involving children can have unintended or even negative consequences, we have developed the following guidelines.
- Respect Schedules – Keep in mind that most multiple birth families need to maintain a routine to function well, and face signiﬁcant logistical challenges. They also have more demands on their time and energy than most, and already face the inherent difficulty of trying to create an environment that is as normal as possible for their children, without the added challenge of public exposure.
- Understand health issues – This is especially important for infants who may still be fragile from a preterm birth and are more susceptible to illness. Parents may want to wait until the babies are deemed in stable condition and the mother has had time to recover after delivery before participating. Please be patient. A good story is evergreen.
- Double-check facts – Many stories about multiples, even those that are well-done, seem especially prone to containing inaccuracies in the statistics quoted, or information about fertility treatments and zygosity. These errors contribute greatly to the myths and misconceptions about multiples that are so prevalent and problematic for families trying to care for their children. Please visit our Stats and Facts web page for accurate information, or contact our office.
- Don’t be afraid to say no – Do not feel pressured to do something you are not comfortable doing. You are allowed to maintain privacy for your children to grow and thrive! You may consider appointing a media spokesperson, such as a well-spoken family member, friend, lawyer or doctor to talk to the media on your behalf as a compromise.
- Explore your motives – Media attention can be very ﬂattering and in some cases ﬁnancially tempting as well. Those motives are understandable. Just remember that media exposure can have wonderful beneﬁts, but will likely require trade-offs that are easy to downplay or ignore at ﬁrst. You should keep in mind that only a very small number of families have garnered life-altering fame or ﬁnancial rewards from their participation with the media. So it is important to have other reasons for participating. Think about both the current and long-term best interests of your children to temper expectations, ﬁlter motives and increase the odds of having a positive and fulﬁlling media experience.
- Consider timing – Parents of multiples often ﬁnd themselves in the media spotlight at an exceptionally vulnerable time: right after delivery, while the babies are in the NICU, and during the ﬁrst year when the mother is at greater risk for postpartum depression and other possible complications of a high risk pregnancy. So you may want to wait until the babies are in stable condition and mom has had time to recover after delivery before talking to the media.
Hospitals have public relations staff to help navigate this process, so don’t be afraid to ask. Just remember that they work for the hospital, not you. Most are very aware of the need to protect and advocate for your family, but their ﬁrst priority is to work in the best interest of the hospital.
After discharge, consider the children’s current health status, sleep schedule and developmental phase before agreeing to complex commitments. Also, if you are in the middle of a crisis or juggling challenges you may want to postpone participating in media opportunities until your situation has stabilized.
- Make a plan – Decide in advance what you are willing and not willing to talk about. It is your right to decline to answer any question. Inquire about the project’s angle. Knowing the purpose, content and direction of the story can help you make informed decisions about whether to participate. Also remember to maintain your composure! Nothing said can be assumed to be “off the record” until all media professionals have completed their work, turned oﬀ their equipment and left the interview.