- What do you do when both babies are crying?
- Don’t you feel terrible having to divide your attention between two children?
- Aren’t you in a constant state of feeling overextended, overstressed, and underequipped?
- Do you ever get out? Just you and your partner?
- Why don’t you dress them alike? (Or: Why do you dress them alike?)
Go easy on yourself and the expectations you have of what kind of parent you will be. Having children is unpredictable as Life just happens, and if you get too hung up on the ‘perfect’ delivery or trying to be the ‘perfect parent’ you will stress yourself out and feel a constant failure.
Parenting isn’t a competition.
Relax, do it your way and just be a real parent to your children.
Love them, spend time with them, nurture them physically, mentally and emotionally and enjoy them. Most importantly bond with them early on.
All the things you are going to do as a parent (e.g. have a vaginal birth, breastfeeding, etc.) may not work out as you had expected, or may not be as wonderful as you had thought.
Make sure your relationship with your partner is strong and that you communicate well. Don’t take stuff too personally. Talk together, share the care and support each other.
Relax. Stay Calm.
Hire a night nurse, (or get night time help, or share the care during the night) especially in the beginning and especially if you are on bed rest or are having a caesarean.
Spend some one-on-one time with each baby.
Help: ask for it and accept it! Make a simple list with directions for some things so that if someone visits and asks how they can help you can direct them to the list (i.e. wash bottles, throw a load of baby laundry in the wash/dryer, bring you a cooked meal!).
Consider getting some help, especially if you don’t have family near who can support and help you, particularly if you are a first-time parent.
Get out of the house with the babies and join a playgroup no matter what in those first few months. You may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and a bit frazzled but meeting up with other parents in the same boat is incredibly good for your well-being, as you feel supported by a network of other parents experiencing the same things so you don’t feel so alone and isolated.
Join a multiples group. Start with this website TAMBA – Twins And Multiple Births Association -it’s the UK’s leading twins and triplets support charity to see what’s available in your area. It’s specifically for expectant parents of multiples. You’ll meet other mums/parents-to-be as well as get advice from the “pros”. It’s also reassuring to meet mums whose kids are toddlers. You’ll receive great information/advice, make friends, see the bigger picture and laugh.
The first 6 months are often described as Hell! I’ve heard from many parents of twins that the first 6 months are really challenging, tiring, overwhelming and exhausting, and that can come as a shock as you’ve been planning, anticipating and looking forward to the arrival of your babies. Don’t feel guilty. It’s perfectly normal. Keep the bigger picture in your mind. Do something really small for yourself each day to keep you upbeat and balanced – sit down when you can deliberately and have a cuppa, go for a short walk on your own, or go for a scented bath to unwind even if it’s only for 20 minutes, it will rejuvenate you, help you recuperate your energy and give you a much-needed break. So, make sure you’ve talked that through with your partner or friend or family so they can make sure you get a break each day.
Often parents tell me that by about the 7th month things are a little easier although there are still difficult times where you have “two babies and only one mummy”.
Unsolicited Advice. I think every new mother gets this from family members but what people don’t understand is that advice from a singleton mother doesn’t always mean much to a mother of multiples. Some people insist that they know more just because they are a mother, but it’s completely different being a mum to multiples! So, take their well-meaning advice with a pinch of salt, and remember your best advice is going to come from other mums who’ve walked in your shoes! Having twins is a completely different experience than having one baby at a time.
Bed rest: it’s so common in mothers carrying multiples so just keep it in the back of your mind. Not everyone goes on bedrest, just keep it in mind, though. It doesn’t mean you are a failure – it means you are being sensible and doing what’s best for your babies.
Don’t travel somewhere at high elevation when you’re far along in your pregnancy. It is hard enough to breathe with all of your organs squashed up to make room for two babies in your uterus. Don’t add to the stress your body is already under by deciding to go on a snowy mountain get-away !
See a specialist this is especially important if you are carrying identical twins, as there are more issues (twin-twin transfusion, for example).
Pack your hospital bag early and get all the necessary supplies in for the early days because with twins I think it is best to be prepared early, as you never know when you might go into labour.
Learn infant CPR now. (Check out Emma Hammett – First Aid for Life) it will give you enormous confidence.
Be prepared for lots of attention. You and your babies will become Rock Stars over night! You’ll find people will stop you in shops and in supermarkets and coo and aaah and ask lots of questions. They may even offer advice – so be prepared and embrace it!
Labour, Delivery and Immediately After
Don’t get obsessed over your delivery method. Whatever is best for your babies is what you’ll do in the end, anyway.
Before going to the hospital, go out and buy those inexpensive maxi pads. Soak them in a moderate amount of water and then freeze them. After birth, these will provide some soothing relief to your lower regions !
TAKE EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING that’s offered to help you from nappies to bibs.
Give your boobs a break
Hands-free pumping! Also, if in this situation, buy a lot of extra pump pieces so you don’t have to wash the pump parts in the middle of the night and just use the steam steriliser bag once a day.
TRY to enjoy night feedings when you are with the little ones – relax & bond, those are really important moments. There is something very special about the bonding that happens at night if you can focus in on the moment and really embrace it.
Get breastfeeding help early and often if you need it, it’s so very key to your success.
Breast feeding is HARD… if it will help your sanity, stop earlier.
Don’t get hung up on breastfeeding. You’ll get engorgement whenever you get it, and if you don’t, then there’s a few things you can try, but stressing out will not help. Make this your motto “give them what you have, and then give them what they need,” which requires a fair degree of acceptance to whatever the situation is.
Feedings, etc: keep a chart of when you feed each, how much they ate, what their nappy looked like, etc. You’re going to be sleep-deprived and everything else is going to merge in together. Many sites have fancy ones you can buy, or make your own.
Set up a bedtime routine even when your babies are waking every three hours. Then when they are physically ready to sleep through the night, the routine will already be in place. A simple one is bath, feed, bed.
Put them down awake from the start!!!!!
Sleep train your kids as soon as possible. Put them down during the day with noise, with light and then at night with darkness and peace. Get them used to the difference between day and night early on.
Transitional object – More commonly called a lovey or blankie. this is an important aid for falling asleep and self-soothing. To develop an attachment to the “object,” keep it with you and your baby all the time until baby begins to finger, rub on face, clutch, etc. It especially helps to hold it between you and baby when you hold them, so it has your scent. Once they’ve attached, just give it to them for sleep. Now they have a special way to self soothe that makes getting into their bed pleasurable. It’s a good idea to have multiples on hand. It is typically a small (size of a hankerchief) blanket or cloth, unstuffed animal, etc.
Follow a strict schedule at all times for feeding and naps – don’t let social engagements interfere with the schedule. Work your life around the schedule.
Sleep when your babies sleep. It’s so hard to do when you’re used to being an active member of society, but the more rested you are the better your milk production, the better your mood, the better your relationship with your family. Sleep.
One of the best pieces of advice I think is “learn how to use your car seats before you have the babies”. It can be really stressful trying to work them out with a screaming baby in the rain! So, practice!
Don’t insist on all new equipment (i.e. high chairs, etc) Buy things that you need further down the road. It’ll save you money and also prevent you from buying stuff you don’t need!
Decide in advance what remedies you’d like to use for colic, fevers, wind or other ailments and have it on hand. There is nothing worse than your child being feverish or in pain from wind and having to take the time to run to the supermarket to get anything that will help. Better to have it on hand and use the product that you want rather than the only thing the all night chemist has on the shelf. Make no mistake, most of the time you will need some remedy at 11pm not the convenient 3pm.
Buy nipple salve. The absolute best product ever. You can use it on your nipples, but you can also use it on the babies. If they get a little scratch or something you can put it on the area and it heals up quickly. It’s not petroleum based, so it’s safe putting it on their face.
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When they start eating solids, get a waterproof bib.
You don’t need two of everything – one bouncer and one swing. You don’t need two cots right away either, but probably will within 3-4 months.
Small fan to keep in their bedroom. There is new research that says circulating air helps to reduce SIDS
Make sure to get mattress pads that go over the mattress and also the one over the fitted sheet. That way, when there is a spill, drool, etc., you don’t have to wash the fitted sheet.
Get an infant piddle pad for the car seat so you don’t have to clean the entire car seat when there is an accident!
A good activity mat is the best investment for stimulation and curiosity.
Set up 2 changing stations within the house. Especially if you have two floors.
Make a conscious decision to relax and to enjoy this period in all your lives. If you are grounded, relaxed, positive and happy – your kids will be too as they’ll pick up on your vibes.
We can’t all have Beyoncé’s money and help but I hope these tips will help you.