The thought of growing not one but two babies inside you sounds overwhelming. And, giving birth and taking care of twins sounds, let’s be honest, tiring, and exhausting. But who says it has to be? Who says managing twins should be hard work? With a scheduled routine, you can ace double parenting incredibly with ease and comfort. You will certainly find managing them easier once you get the drift of your everyday routine.
Double Mommy’s Guide To Managing Twins
Let’s be real, you can get hardly any sleep when you are taking care of one baby. Most of you have episodes of exhausted tears from the bathroom more often. So naturally, it is expected to believe that twins will be double the work. That’s when the phrase “so much to do, so little time” comes to life.
But with patience and practice, you can benefit by saving time with double the fun, hugs, and kisses! This double mommy’s guide to managing twins will make you a pro by the third month, with less stress and more joy.
Prepare Your Bump
Let me guide you through the long journey ahead of you right from the beginning. Women with twin pregnancies are more likely to have pregnancy health problems and complications. So, more check-ups are highly recommended. You can only be sure of twin pregnancy after an ultrasound(1), which is best to be taken at 10-12 weeks of pregnancy. It is quite normal to experience another whole load of morning sickness, pressure on the bladder, and heartburn with twins in your bump. Relax.
You should take care of your diet with an increased intake of protein, folate, iron, calcium, iodine, carbohydrates, fats, and overall nutrients as directed.
Keep The Hospital Bag Ready
Pack your hospital bag early in your pregnancy, ideally by 30 weeks. As twins often arrive early and usually are said to be born at 37-38 weeks(2), some women are made to take rest at 30 weeks itself. So you can skip the worrying in bed if you are already packed. Check with your hospital to get a list of what you need to bring. Don’t forget to pack enough supplies for two babies. According to Twins Trust, about 40% of multiples need extra care after they are born(3). Chances are, they will be staying for a few days at the hospital. As twins are often smaller than single babies, you need tiny baby clothes rather than newborn-size clothes.
Prep Your House For The Twins
Clean your house before the twins come home. Get everything done before they arrive. Do not, I repeat, do not procrastinate prepping your house for the twins as they will be quite a handful for you to get even your everyday work done. If you are someone who wants her house spotless now, you won’t mind the mess after three months with them. Because you will be busy juggling your family’s needs once they arrive. The relief is that they won’t stay young forever!
One thing you shouldn’t forget is to keep every baby essentials, like diapers, wipes, extra baby clothes, at each level of your house. That way you can avoid running up and down the stairs every time one of the babies needs to be changed. Set up a portable crib in the area where you will be spending most of your time with them, so that you can have them near you safely. Another timesaver is stocking your freezer with ready-made meals, and a list of recipes of easy meals that your partner can cook quickly. Whenever you are cooking, make double portions and freeze one.
Buy Twin Baby Essentials
Make sure that you buy things your babies are going to need in advance. While some of them can be borrowed or use second-hand ones, other few such as car seats should be purchased new. Contrary to popular belief, many of the essentials(4) can be shared for both babies. What babies can share are:
- Baby bathtub
- Nursing pillow
- Breast pump
- Formula [enough for two weeks]
- Changing table
- Portable crib
- Baby monitor
- Double stroller
- Playing mat
What each of the babies needs are:
- Car seat with accessories
- High chair
- Front carrier
- Infant seat
- Baby towels
- Sheets and swaddles
- Baby clothes [buy more onesies and sleepers till they are one]
- Burp cloths
- Diaper bag
Buy all of the aforementioned essentials before the twins arrive home. Each baby needs 8 to 6 diapers a day. The twins need nearly 4500 diapers in the first year(5). So, stock up! The wise option is ordering online because you can have them delivered to your doorstep, saving energy and time. Order them in bulk from online auctions. Many companies that make baby products offer special offers for families of multiples; coupons and discounts to save some dollars.
Plan and Prepare
A plan will save yourself from many caught-off-guard moments in the future. It is scary and easier said than done. No matter how much you plan and expect, things will get hard around once the twins are born. But, making a plan will make the future less scary and a lot more comforting. You will certainly feel like you are already halfway there after verbalizing your fears and anticipated challenges. Discuss with your partner how you are going to manage the twins and ways you can help each other. Tending the newborn may mean that you don’t fall in love instantly as you had expected, which is normal. But you will get there in a few days.
Do not wear yourself by overthinking all the worst-case scenarios even before they are born. Take care of your body and rest well during your pregnancy.
Keep Your Saviors
Extra pair of helpful hands are what you will appreciate while managing twins; nannies, babysitters, housekeepers, and whatnot. You will most likely need all the help you get during the first six weeks. Many double mommies wish now that they had saved some money before hiring a nanny to help around. But if you are low on budget, ask your parents, relatives, or friends to help out [there is no shame in asking]. You will be grateful even for a cooked meal. You will find yourself saying “fine” when you are practically drowning. Keep your pride aside and do not turn down any offering hands.
Get Professional Help
Always look for professional advice from your sleep consultant, night nurse, lactation consultant, and therapist. There is no shame in getting advice from others. This will help you in many different ways.
Stick To The Schedule
One of the important factors in managing kids, in general, is scheduling everything and sticking to it no matter what! You have no idea how much scheduling will help you with managing twins. Once you get past the initial shock, schedule the twins’ timing of their needs such as feeding, bathing, diapering, napping, changing, playing, etc. Develop a routine that will work for your whole family. But keep in mind that as they grow up, you will need to adapt the routine with the change in needs. Schedule their doctor and dentist appointments at the same time.
If you stick to the schedule, you will get the drift pretty quickly which will make managing them easier with extra hours of sleep. You can set up a board where you can note down things that need to be taken care of [which will be helpful to your partner as well and vice versa]. To avoid confusion with identical twins, don’t take off the hospital tags till you can tell them apart.
Nursing newborn twins can get overwhelming because it is tricky. Especially when it’s your first experience with breastfeeding. But do not stop the next minute it gets difficult because it will be. You will need to try different positions to find what works best for both of you.
You can either breastfeed one baby and then the other. But to save your time, breastfeeding them together is more appealing(6). No pressure as it will be the first time. Once you get used to the position and hold, you can sit back and relax while bonding with your babies. Don’t forget the drill; feed, burp, and change.
A U-shaped nursing pillow will fit comfortably around your waist and will keep both the babies at the breast which will leave your hands free to adjust their mouths. Or, you can rest one baby’s head in each palm or on pillows with their legs behind you. Or, hold one baby in the football hold and cradle the other in front of you. Try to alternate breasts with each feeding to make sure they produce equal amounts of milk and to lessen the chances of blocked ducts.
The amount of milk is based on the amount of stimulation from sucking, so don’t worry about not having enough milk. Your lactation consultant will show you how to hold babies and discuss milk supply and how to get them on the same schedule. Another useful method is using breast pumps [when they are 8 weeks] which will give you extra time to get your work done.
Bottle feeding is the next best nursing method that doesn’t need your presence. Your partner or helper can feed them while you can do your work. Follow the instructions while mixing the formula and always wash and keep the bottles clean.
After feeding, hold them upright and gently rub or gently pat their back to bring up any wind. Don’t try to wind both babies at the same time if you are feeding them by yourself. Make sure that you never leave your babies unattended while bottle-feeding them. Don’t forget that nursing and feeding is the best time to bond with your babies, so take full advantage of them.
If one of them gets a blocked nose, try everything to get rid of that. For the first months, babies cannot breathe out of their mouths, so they constantly wake up when they can’t breathe. When two have a stuffy nose, you don’t get any sleep.
Always keep extras of everything in your car. Extra pair of clothes for each baby, diapers, nappies and even potties will help you on a road trip. Don’t forget to restock them either. This way you can always be prepared which is never a bad thing.
Bathe Twice A Day
It is advised to bathe the babies twice a day; morning and before bed. But, twice a day is not necessary either. Bathing once a day will be better for their soft skin and more hours of sleep for you! You can bathe one baby while keeping the other twin busy and switch after s/he is changed. After six months, you can bathe them together in one bathtub.
2-3-4 Nap Schedule
If your babies sleep a lot, say 3 hours in the daytime and 12 hours at night, 2-3-4 nap schedule will be perfect for them. Babies under one need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day and babies from 1 to 2 need 11 to 14 hours of sleep a day. It is always best to let them sleep together until they are six months and start to kick each other. They should get used to the comfort and crying of each other. They shouldn’t rely on total silence to sleep. If one of them wakes up, wake the other one up too. If one of them needs to be fed, feed the other one too. Otherwise, you won’t get any sleep.
In this nap schedule(7), after they wake up in the morning [7 a.m], feed and change them, let them take the first nap after 2 hours [9 a.m.]. If they sleep for one hour or so, the second nap would be three hours later [1:30 p.m.]. Then, if they sleep until 3 p.m., bedtime would be 4 hours later [ 7 p.m.]. To put it simply, let them take naps twice a day; morning and afternoon. Have 2-3-4 hours of gap between each nap so that they will be ready for bed at 7 p.m. During the naptime you can do your work such as cooking showering, laundry, pump milk, prep bottles, plan the day.
Get Used To Crying
Everyone at home should get used to the crying, including the other twin. There will always be some wailing throughout the day, be it the babies’, their siblings’ or yours [which is completely normal]. No twins are the same, what works for one might not work for the other. So try to find what soothes which baby. Also, try to find the reason behind the tears. Even calling out to them when you can’t hold them immediately will comfort them.
If they are older, talk to them softly to know the reason. Even if the love between twins is unconditional, there is no love without a good fight. They will most likely fight with each other without an end. You should know when to be gentle with them and when to take out the big mama guns.
Get To Know Them Individually
Even when they have come from the same placenta, they are two different individuals. You should take the time to get to know them individually from birth to feel more connected. Feeding is the best time to bond with them at the earliest stage. You will be grateful for all these “forced” hours of breastfeeding time with them later.
Find what is unique with each twin and what makes one different from the other. Even when they are growing up, always make time to know the change in them individually. Always refer to them by their names rather than “the twins” because it is important for them to see themselves as individuals.
Join A Support Group
A support group of double mommies will be the one thing that will keep you sane. There will be many who have gone through the same path as yours. You can relate to their stories which will bring relief that you are not going crazy. Before you know it, you will be cheering other terrified double mommies. The National Organization of Mothers of Twins(8) Clubs has more than 475 local support groups.
Know that you will get through this. Remember how mothers took care of eleven kids without any help years before? If they can make it through without any of the help you have now, so can you! Relax and breathe to make this journey memorable.
Time flies. Before you know it, you will be tearing up for their graduation. You will wish to get back every moment you spend with them after a few years. So, each time you feel like giving up and the world crumbling down around you, slow down and take a deep breath. These few years of worry and exhaustion are nothing in the span of your lifetime. Cherish every moment and make time to enjoy them. Imagine every little achievement your babies are going to make. In the end, watching them grow with you, watching their love for you and each other grow will outweigh the problems you stress on. The demanding job of managing the twins with sleepless nights will be the best time of your life.