So you have been to the ultrasound and received the exciting news! The thought of having twins may have you feeling a bit overwhelmed, concerned and even frazzled. So how exactly do you prepare and adjust if you don’t have endless resources and assistance that celebrity moms like Angelina, Julia and Sarah-Jessica have?
Identical? Fraternal? You won’t know that just yet but one thing is certain, having twins has its challenges. For starters, you and your partner will be well-advised to register for multiple-birth prenatal classes which will help you get acquainted with other couples who are on a similar journey
According to the Twins, Triplets and More Resource Guide January 2013 edition*, available through the University of British Columbia, our province had 1,379 twin births (690 twin pregnancies) in 2010. On a typical day in BC, four multiple-birth infants are born (two or more babies at a time).
Realize first and foremost that if you are carrying more than one baby, you are going to need help along the way and it may even start in pregnancy. So communicate with your partner whenever you need a helping hand. Open your door to friends and family who are willing to assist you.
Taking Care of You
Sleep when the babies are sleeping so you get the rest you need. Taking care of more than one baby can be exhausting so make caring for your newborns, your main priority and leave that re-decorating project for another time.
Before your babies are born, discuss with your spouse ways you can regularly make time for each other and your older children while caring for your twins. Keep your list of reliable babysitters or relatives handy so you can occasionally run a quick errand, catch a nap or soak in the tub guilt-free!
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Since many moms of twins or triplets deliver early, stock up early and ensure your nursery has all the essentials. Visit your favourite baby supply store often to take advantage of savings on the necessary baby gear you will need. Consider borrowing some items from friends or family. When it comes to everyday items, take advantage of savings by buying in bulk.
Organize. Organize. Organize.
Go even as far as making a schedule with an auntie coming once a week to do laundry; sister helping you meal plan; and a friend or neighbour coming over to just hold and cuddle the babies while you freshen up.
With twins, a schedule becomes non-negotiable. Do your best to establish a consistent routine so your babies eating and sleeping at the same time. Prepare for some schedule setbacks and for those times, rely on your partner or others to help you get back on track. If you don’t have a consistent routine, you might have one going to sleep while the other is just waking up. Not only could you become very overtired, you and your partner may not get much time to relax together which is so vital to parents of multiples.
Let Go of the Guilt
Bear in mind you only have two hands and can only hold one bottle or change one diaper at a time so you’re bound to have one baby upset, while you’re caring for the other. You are doing the best you can. Give yourself a break; do one thing at a time; and know your baby will be okay while you care for the other.
Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
When friends and family offer to help, consider setting up routine assistance with housework, meal preparation, grocery shopping or those never-ending piles of laundry. As your babies get older and your routines are more established, chances are you can handle more tasks, but go at it gradually. When your twins are ill or teething, bear in mind that you may need some help during those transitions, so keep your delegators list handy.
Get to know other parents who are having twins and stay in touch. You can learn valuable tips from each other and occasionally share a laugh or two from someone who has ‘been there’ and ‘done that’.
Whenever your precious bundles of joy are sleeping, relish every relaxing moment you get. After all you deserve it!
Then there comes that day when you are taking your twins to their first day of school. You are looking back and feeling a tremendous sense of accomplishment –justifiably-so! Might be a time you consider picking up the phone to see if you can help out a new mom expecting bundles of joy times two (or three), and offer up some much-needed and much-appreciated reassurance.
*Twins, Triplets & More Resource Guide for Multiple Pregnancy and Parenthood was compiled by Linda G. Leonard, Associate Professor Emerita, Multiple Birth Specialist at the University of British Columbia. Parents of multiples in BC are fortunate to have access to this all-encompassing guide which includes detailed information on breastfeeding, car seats, delivery, safety and nutrition specific to multiple births plus extensive contact lists and publications. To download this resource, visit www.nursing.ubc.ca/pdfs/twinstripletsand more.pdf