Caring For Twins
Twins can really be fun to welcome into the family. After all, two babies mean double the fun and double the love! And who can resist two cute, cuddly little babies? If you have just had twins though, you are probably finding that caring for them is actually quite challenging. New mothers of twins often find themselves overly-fatigued, exasperated, and even overwhelmed at times. If you are pregnant with twins, it is a good idea to anticipate the challenges that raising two babies will bring but is also important not to panic! Here are some great parenting tips to help you care for those multiples while retaining (most of) your sanity!
When the Twins Arrive: Your Emotions
When your twins first arrive you will undoubtedly be overcome with joy and emotion. Giving birth to a baby is a big step in life, and having two is even a more wonderful. However, as the days and weeks pass, and the work begins to pile up, you may begin to feel a variety of emotions. Mothers of twins often feel:
- sad or depressed
It is important for you to acknowledge these feelings as they arise. Try talking to your partner about how you are feeling, or write down your emotions in a journal when you have a spare minute. Remember that parenting twins is a big deal, and you can expect to go on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. In time, your emotions will begin to settle down.
Asking for Help
Asking for help can often be a saving grace when it comes to parenting twins. Don’t be afraid to look to others for a helping hand, whether it be to watch your babies for a while or to help out with the housework. Family members, friends, and neighbourhood mums are often happy to lend a hand. Or, you may think about hiring someone to come in occasionally to get extra dishes, laundry, or chores done.
Many mums of twins and multiples wonder whether or not they will still be able to breastfeed. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, and, if possible, it is a good idea to breastfeed your twins. Many mums find that breastfeeding twins isn’t all that difficult, because increased demand actually creates an increased supply of milk. Here are some breastfeeding tips to help keep your twins happy:
- Breastfeed your babies at the same time. This will help to get them on a feeding schedule and will save you precious time during your day.
- Alternate feeding your babies from both of your breasts. This will give your babies visual exercise and encourage them to drink more milk.
- Get a twin nursing pillow. This pillow aids in supporting both babies while you are feeding them, preventing muscle aches and pain.
- Invest in an electronic or manual breast pump. These pumps help you to collect milk from both of your breasts, allowing you to dump old milk or collect milk for future feedings.
- Talk to a lactation consultant or sign up for a breastfeeding class to make the going a little easier.
Establishing Sleep Patterns
In order to manage all of your responsibilities, it will help if you can establish a good sleep routine for your twins or triplets. Try to get your babies to sleep at the same time, if at all possible. This will allow you time to rest or relax. To establish a sleep routine, try out these tips:
- Engage in soothing behaviours before bedtime arrives. Give your twins a bath, read them bedtime stories, or just cuddle with them. Eventually, these activities will act as signals to your little ones that it is time to take a nap.
- Encourage your babies to drift off in your arms before you put them down. When babies are drowsy, they are more likely to fall asleep.
- Let your little ones sleep together. Twins will often hug or touch one another in bed, and this helps them to fall asleep. It is usually okay for twins to nap together until they are three months old.
- Prevent any sleep time disturbances by keeping their room dark and quiet. Avoid handling your babies after they have gone to sleep. If you need to feed them, put them back into bed immediately afterwards.
Take Care of Yourself
In order to provide the best care for your twins, it is important that you take care of yourself. Be sure to maintain a healthy and balanced diet as you did during pregnancy. Eat plenty of snacks and be sure to keep up your calcium intake. Try to get one to two additional servings of calcium each day, or take a calcium supplement. Remember, you will need 400 to 500 extra calories each day, for each child that you are nursing, so enjoy your food! Sleep whenever possible, and try to get out of the house at least once every day. Visit with other mums or join a twin playgroup so that you can talk with other adults!
Caring for Special Needs Twins
Unfortunately, many twins are born before their due dates, and this can make caring for your little ones even harder. Premature twins often require special care and nutrition. Here are some tips on caring for your special needs twins:
- Begin pumping breast milk right away. Your twins may not be strong enough to breastfeed, but your breast milk is full of valuable nutrients that will encourage growth and development. It will also help them to fight off infection.
- Ask about co-sleeping if your babies are in neonatal care. It has been shown that twins who are allowed to sleep together have more regular breathing and sleeping patterns.
- When your babies come home, be sure to maintain regular health care appointments. Preterm babies need regular health checkups to keep an eye on their nutrition, development, and growth.
- Evaluate your babies’ milestones based on an adjusted age. Preterm babies often develop more slowly than full-term babies. Subtract the number of weeks or months that your babies missed in your uterus when calculating when they should begin sitting up, walking, or talking.