You’ve probably (just about) got over the seismic shock that you’re expecting twins. Maybe you’re slowly realizing that you don’t know anything about twins. We’re willing to wager that you’ve forgotten to marvel at the fact that you’re expecting twins! Yes, there are huge practicalities to consider but having twins really is twice as nice. Here’s the ultimate guide to everything a new parent needs to know about caring for twin newborns.
Expecting Twins: Before Your Babies Are Born
Take Care Of You
Your body is doing an amazing thing: creating two little humans, not just one! Multiple pregnancies are often more uncomfortable than singleton pregnancies. Higher levels of progesterone mean you’ll be short of breath from the get-go. First trimester exhaustion tends to be worse, and later on, heartburn and back pain are often worse, too. Meanwhile, our old friend progesterone again slows the movement of your intestines so you’re likely to be constipated.
That’s a lot to deal with! So look after yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help you with caring for other children, preparing meals and doing household chores. You need to focus on resting as much as you can, eating nutritious food and staying hydrated. Speak to your employer about slowing work down as well.
Prepare For The Postpartum Period
It’s a sad fact, but new parents of multiples are at higher risk for postpartum depression. It’s probably because there is the likelihood that one or both babies may be born prematurely and have to go to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There’s also the sleep deprivation that goes hand in hand with newborns. We’re not saying that you will get postpartum depression – far from it! But if you know what to look out for, you might notice it and be able to get help sooner.
Set up your support networks in advance. Lean on family and friends to organize a meal or chore train. Or line up a cleaner, postpartum doula or night nurse, if you can. Start building connections with other twin parents, both online and in-person. These families will be able to understand and share your experiences, during pregnancy and beyond.
Find A Caregiver Who’s Experienced With Multiples
Choose a medical provider who you like and trust, and is experienced with multiple births. It’s more likely that you will give birth to your babies in a hospital setting, not a birth center or at home. This is so you can be easily transferred if you need a cesarean section. If possible, pick one with easy parking that’s located near you as transporting your twins will be harder.
See A Lactation Consultant Before You Give Birth
Breastfeeding twins is often successful but can be hard because of the logistics and time involved. Seeing a lactation consultant before your twins are born can help preempt some of the challenges. They can also advise on good nutrition, hydration and finding useful social support.
Don’t Buy Two Of Everything!
Consider what you really need. Having twins doesn’t mean doubling up on all the key essentials. The must haves for twins for the first few weeks are:
- two car seats. (Need more details? Read our Car Seats FAQ).
- two cradles or bassinets or one crib (once they start moving around, you’ll need two cribs).
- a twin feeding pillow.
- somewhere safe for them to be put down on each floor of your home. This could be a travel crib or two Dockatot pods.
- a nappy station on each floor of your house with wipes, diapers, bibs, muslins, swaddles and spare clothes all to hand.
- a double stroller. Read our guide to the Best Strollers For Twins And Multiples.
- one or two baby carriers.
C-section: What To Expect
As of 2014, 66% of twin pregnancies in the United States were delivered via cesarean. Consider learning about what a cesarean section is like. Get in the zone by listening to a good podcast or reading a helpful book like Anna Mathur's 'The Little Book of Calm For New Mums'.
You could also ask your care provider about its c-section policies, such as:
- Does it offer newborn skin-to-skin contact with a parent after a cesarean?
- Where will the incision placement be? You may want a low transverse incision that will allow you to try for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) with future pregnancies.
- How many support people will be allowed in the operating room during your c-section? If you have a doula as well as dad, only one of them may be allowed.
Expecting Twins: Postpartum Life
Twin Babies And Sleep
For the very first few weeks, it may be easier for you if both babies sleep in the same crib. But flexibility is key. One of your twins may end up happy in the crib, while the other may be more comfy in a bassinet or cradle.
If your little ones do sleep in the same crib, place them on their backs at either end of the crib with their heads facing each other. Side-by-side sleeping means risking one twin accidentally covering the face of the other, which could interfere with their breathing. Swaddle your babies or use separate sleeping bags. Move them to separate cribs when they start to be able to move around.
Remember, your newborns are unlikely to sleep through the night. Their tiny stomachs need food at regular intervals throughout the day and night. Your babies will probably wake at different times (leaving you exhausted). Try and work out a way to cover the nights with the support available to you. Take it in turns with your partner, for example, to sleep away from your babies to get some solid sleep. Or you could both feed a baby each at each feed to make the waking period shorter.
Breastfeeding And Formula Feeding
Yes, your body can absolutely produce enough milk to feed two babies. But breastfeeding multiples is tough, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t exclusively breastfeed or want to stop. It’s hard having twins, so go for it with the full formula feeding if that means you’re less tired, get more sleep and can function better.
Any amount of breast milk is good for your babies and they will be fine if they’re not exclusively breastfed. You can also use mixed feeding (breastfeeding and formula).
Feeding Twins And Time Management
You can feed your twins together or separately. It depends entirely on you and your family. In the early days, while you’re learning to breastfeed or if you don’t have support at feeding time, you may have to feed one baby at a time.
When you’ve got the hang of things, it may make sense for you to feed both your babies at the same time. When one twin wakes up for a feed, wake the other one, giving you as much time as possible to rest or sleep.
Getting Out And About With Your Twins
Multiple babies may mean it’s harder for you to get out and about than single-baby parents, particularly during those first few weeks and months. It helps to be organized by making sure the nappy bag is well stocked with diapers, wipes, formula or expressed milk and a change of clothes. You might also need plenty of help from friends and family to get out.
A shared, cozy space for twins in the Mountain Buggy Carrycot for twins
Once you have finally managed to leave the house, be prepared for the onslaught of the world’s well-meaning fascination with your twins. People will be delighted to see your cute new arrivals and ask you lots of questions. You’ll doubtless tire of hearing the phrase ‘you’ve got your hands full’. They’ll also pepper you with personal observations comparing your babies, like ‘she looks like the naughty one!’ Depending on how much sleep you’ve had, these comments will either make or break you. Breathe and go with the flow!
Being a parent to two babies is undoubtedly a challenge. But seeing your twins interact together will remind you just how miraculous they are. Cocooned together in the womb for nine months means even tiny twins will be comforted by each other’s presence, gazing at each other, reaching out and even holding hands. Whether it’s nature’s way of getting you through those first tricky newborn months, as parents of those little miracles you should allow yourself to feel pretty special, too.
PishPosh Baby has all you need to prepare for your twin babies’ arrival. Shop our collection of newborn gear.