Life with newborn twins can be twice the pleasure, double the fun and plenty of challenge. Chew on these tips to get yourself in gear for a great adventure!
- START HERE: You were given two precious ones to love because your heart is big enough, your arms are roomy enough, you are enough. Don’t let the idea of double everything scare you. You will all find your rhythm and dance through the days soon enough.
- WELCOME HELPERS: People who love you will want to be around you, see the newbies, and help you. Let them. Compile a list of things that others can do while they visit, or on their way to visit you. When someone asks how they can help, refer to it and let them know! Here is a list of common ways others can help you at this time: https://www.twiniversity.com/2014/02/how-to-help-a-new-parent-of-twins/. Seek out help if it hasn’t come to you. You may also think about hiring a postpartum doula, overnight baby nurse, or counselor. In order to do this “let others help you thing,” you might need to work on the whole “Let go and let God thing.” You might need to trust Him by trusting others to help. Take it as a chance to rid yourself of some ego, some detrimental perfectionism, or controlling tendencies.. Even if they don’t do it 100% like you would, 75% of the work has been done and you can always touch it up to your liking. This absolutely goes for singletons as well, but bringing home twins-multiples does increase the overall workload and you may find the extra help more necessary than ever.
- WATER BREAK. Get water. No, Seriously. Take a sip of that water you have next to you, or take a short walk to the refrigerator to get some more. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day is typical protocol for good health, and imperative for a healthy pregnancy. When breastfeeding singletons, it is important to stay hydrated with at least 8-10 glasses. When breastfeeding multiples, realize that you may need 10-12 glasses of water. This can include some non-caffeinated teas as well, and you can tint* the water with fruit juice or something to add variety. Hydrate yourself throughout each breastfeeding ‘sesh’. I understand that 10-12 glasses seems a bit much, especially if you aren’t used to drinking the recommended 8 glasses/day. Just do your best here.. Keep a pitcher of filtered water handy and remember to refill your glass just before feeding the babes.
- SUPPLEMENT AS NEEDED. You may need to supplement feedings with formula while you double your milk production. Do not fear this, mama. When done properly, supplementing will not hinder milk production. This can be for a short time, maybe just the first week, or on and off until lactation regulates.
- Helpful hints for supplementing:
- Use a syringe at breast so the babes are still suckling through supplement feedings and triggering more lactation.
- If bottle feeding, use a slow flow nipple & tip bottle just enough to get formula/breast-milk into nipple without letting baby suck air. (Keep the bottle more horizontal than vertical) This will help to slow the flow and prevent baby from falling into the lazy feeder trap.
- Supplement only after breastfeeding. If supplementing with bottle, let someone else feed babies their supplement while you pump.
- Inform yourself. Check formula labels/ingredients and pick the formula that’s best for your family/children. Use WIC if possible to ease cost. Or choose an organic formula with less cornstarch if you wish. Remember, you are mama and quite capable of making the best choice for you and your kiddos.
- Helpful hints for supplementing:
- EAT. If Breastfeeding twins, be sure to eat around 3200 calories per day. Otherwise, you can aim for 1200-1800 calorie diet depending on whether you just gave birth to twins or supertwins. In any case, eat foods that are nutrient rich and favors fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, proteins and unrefined carbohydrates. Eat often (at least 3 meals and 2 snacks/day). Eat a stack with dairy just before bedtime.
- EAT YOUR VITAMINS. Especially Calcium, Omega-3’s, Zinc, Iodine, and Iron.
- CONNECT WITH A LACTATION CONSULTANT. Whether you plan to breastfeed or not, finding a lactation consultant while still pregnant can help you get a head start on what to expect. Building a relationship now will help you overcome any battles with breastfeeding or stopping lactation as necessary later.
- HAVE A SET OF BOPPY PILLOWS/BOUNCERS/SWINGS HANDY. These will make care routines, especially feedings, with twins so much easier. The great thing about boppy pillows is that they keep the babies propped up a bit during & immediately after feeds while they begin digesting. This is true with bouncers and swings as well, but then each of these have motion which is not ideal for settling tummies. The only issue with boppy pillows is that most of them do not have any type of restraint to keep a baby from sliding/falling/front flipping off. So, only keep them on boppy pillows while you are right there with them. You may even want to move the whole deal to the floor as they begin to move around so there are no dives off the couch. A Cuddle-U by Leachco might solve this problem as well, though I haven’t had personal experience with it, and so cannot give you my full recommendation. Same goes for Table for Two twin feeding system.
- LEARN POSITIONS FOR TANDEM FEEDING. Whether it be breastfeeding or bottle feeding, taking care of two at once is a challenge. Good thing for us there are a ton of resources out there with suggestions for how to do this in a way that is comfortable for you and your babies. Lactation consultants are an amazing support this way, as well as doulas. Here are some ideas for breastfeeding your hangry duo: https://www.twiniversity.com/2018/08/the-best-positions-for-breastfeeding-twins/
- COLOR CODE or label bottles, pacifiers, bibs, etc to keep track of whose is whose. This is especially important with bottles so that you can see how much each of the babies drank.
- KEEP A DAILY LOG. Life with twins is busy and can be exhausting making it hard to keep track of and remember how much your babies have eaten, slept, or had wet/soiled diapers. Keeping a daily log will give you, your partner, and your pediatrician peace of mind as you jot down important notes and reminders. Here is an example:
|5a||4oz F||W||Up @ 5:10a
Down @ 5:45a
|Up @ 515a|
|6am||Down @ 6:20|
- CREATE & STOCK A BABY/MAMA ESSENTIALS CADDY. Have a caddy stocked with diapers, wipes, tissues, coconut oil, hand sanitizer, nail clippers/files etc. Bottled waters and snacks for mama. Bottles filled with water and a container for pre-portioned formula if formula feeding. Ideally have a couple of these in typical caregiving spots around the home, or one that you can easily carry with you to another room.
- GET OUT. Make it a point to get out at least twice a week to enjoy some fresh air and new surroundings. Call a friend, hire a doula, enlist help as needed so that you can enjoy this time! Postpartum hormones can be changing doubly, so get
- CONNECT with husband/partner, children, family, friends and yourself. Let others enjoy time with babies and allow yourself freedom to spend a few moments alone, with other children, with lover, etc.
- MORE OF EVERYTHING… Including doctor visits, for you and babies might be necessary. So keep a plan for that in the back of your mind.
- CHECK IN on yourself and get your partner or someone who knows you well to do the same. The risk for postpartum depression can be higher after giving birth to twins, mainly due to increased hormones in flux.
- STOCK UP ON PADS. The amount of lochia and blood loss will be more after a twin birth. This is due to twice as much placenta and twice the uterus stretch. Make a few “padcicles” by putting aloe, witch hazel, and a bit of lavender on an overnight pad and put them in the freezer or refrigerator. I suggest refrigerator so that it’s not unbearably cold!
- EXPECT EXTRA WEIGHT. Mom’s will typically gain 30-70 lbs during a pregnancy with twins. This weight can come off with a healthy diet, exercise, and adequate sleep. If you feel like you need extra help with this, consider investing in a nutritionist, health coach, or pull together a group of friends that will buddy up with you for walks and recipe sharing. As your doula, I am available to encourage walks & exercise, and provide healthy cooking! You can also check out www.drbarbaraluke.com and register for her nutrition and health program during pregnancy to help keep desired weight gain, and then lose it afterward.
In the Sears’ Baby Book, Tips for Parenting twins are outlined in this way:
Doubly Prepared – Set up and stock the nursery by the beginning of your third trimester. Join a Mothers of Twins Club, and whatever multiples clubs there are locally. These are so helpful, for building friendships to carry you through twinning, resource for parenting tips, and for some great second hand items.
Double team – The father or another committed caregiver, other than mother, should helping mama through all caregiving tasks, including breastfeeding! If papa has to work, ask around for help.
Dinner for two – Getting babies on a simultaneous feeding schedule will give everyone more time for other things. Otherwise you will feel like you are literally feeding babies all day. It doesn’t always work out, but it is definitely a good target.
Double Duties – Try to get babies on a similar eat, activity, nap schedule and develop a consistent routine.
Doubly Organized – Learn to delegate tasks to family members or hired help. Get tips for shortcuts and prioritize. For instance, the need to nap might come before the need to do dishes.
Double up in bed – Twins can share the same bassinet for awhile.
Double the help – Hire help or get a good schedule of help flow from family/friends.
Carrying Double – Babies need to be held, a lot. Find ways to carry babies around in baby carrier/sling. Get Dad to hold one while you take care of the other etc.
Seeing Double – Get different bracelets, painting toenails different colors and other identifiers can help you keep track of whose who, especially for identical twins. After spending some time with your babies, you will know better, but for the first few weeks it may be confusing. Don’t feel bad, just get a system to keep it straight.
Two Names – Make sure you are parenting individuals, not one person with two bodies. Call them by their names. You have two individual little people in your life who will probably grow to be quite different. As these differences present themselves, you will see more and more that this is true.
Resources for parenting twins:
Multiples of America
Greater Nashua Parents of Twins & Multiples
Queen City Mothers of Twins Club (Manchester NH)
NH/MA Twin and Multiples Service Agency
Websites like Twinslist.org & Twinversity.com are great!
Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More, by Karen Gromada
“The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two”, by: William Sears, MD, Martha Sears, RN Robert Sears, MD and James Sears, MD
“When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy”, by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein
“What to do When You’re Having Two: The Twins Survival Guide from Pregnancy Through the First Year” by Natalie Diaz, founder of Twinversity