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Expecting Twins? It's All In The Preparation

Discovering you are pregnant with twins can make you feel a mixture of shock and elation. One the one hand, you are overjoyed at the prospect of having two gorgeous babies, but you might also be panicking about how you'll cope.

Try not to worry, we have rounded up some practical advice about caring for twins, as well as some tried and tested tips from a mom of multiples, to help you feel prepared.

Real Mom's Advice

“It's just truly amazing what a woman’s body can do in order to grow and carry 20 toes and fingers, four legs and arms, four eyes and ears and two beautiful heads…. Well, you aren't thinking that exactly when they are shouting, 'I can see the head…one more push!'

"You could write a book on baby care tips for multiples, as it’s more than double the work of a singleton baby. It is difficult to understand that unless you have been there: "Preparation is key. This will apply to everything you do with your multiples, but especially around bath time. Set everything out beforehand – towels, nappies, vests, powder and clothes.

"Stick to a routine as much as you can. I used one that an army sergeant would be proud of! They napped at the same time, had their nappies changed at the same time, ate at the same time etc. It's not about individual personalities and choices (that day will come) it is about getting through the next 24…no 12 hours and keeping both children fed and watered!

"Always use these words… repeat after me…'yes please.' If someone offers to get you bread and milk from the shop…say, 'yes please.' Someone else offers to watch your babies while you have a shower that takes longer than Usain Bolt to sprint a 100m you say...'Yes please.' There are no medals arriving in the post for going it alone and managing it yourself.

"Try get into the swing of feeding tandem and you will soon learn that babies that feed together sleep together! But remember at the end of the day, not everyone gets chosen to be a multiple mother and it is difficult at times but as the saying goes, 'The harder the struggle the greater the reward.'" - Catherine Rafferty

Breastfeeding twins

When you are breastfeeding your twins it may take a little time to find a position that you like and feel comfortable with. Initially you may find it easier to concentrate on one baby at a time, or your midwife/partner may help you when positioning the two babies at the same time.

The HSE website breastfeeding.ie advises that when you are confident latching on one baby then you can try the two babies together – this will save you time and your babies will love being close with you and each other at the breast. It always helps in the early days to feed in a big bed or big sofa, you in the middle with plenty of pillows all around to support your back and to lift up your babies if needed.

Top props for feeding

Twins breastfeeding cushion
According to Twins UK, a breastfeeding cushion is a great gift for a new mum. You will be able to feed your twins simultaneously (tandem nursing), comfortably and hands-free!

A double breast pump
This piece of equipment will become a necessity if you intend to express breast milk for your twins. Mothers of multiples may find that their milk supply is higher if they use a dual electric breast pump because it empties both breasts more completely than manual expression. In addition. Double pumping saves a lot of time rather than pumping one breast at a time.

Read Next: Multiple Pregnancies and Labour

Two car seats

Each baby will need a car seat for coming home from hospital. It might be a good idea to consider car seats that are compatible with a particular double stroller, which can save you on a lot of space in your car boot.

When choosing a new child car seat, make sure that it fits in your car and is suitable for the height and weight of your child. You should also choose a retailer who can expertly fit the child car seat into your car to make sure it is a suitable match. See www.rsa.ie for more details.

A place to sleep

According to The Irish Multiple Births Association, you will eventually require two cots but one will often suffice at the start. The association also recommends that if possible, parents should put a cot/travel cot/bassinette downstairs as well as upstairs. This will also save your legs when it comes to nap times. It's safe for newborns to share a sleep spot – they have just spent approximately nine months together in very tight quarters, they won’t object to sleeping in the same cot for a short while. Putting twins in the same cot can help them regulate their body temperatures and sleep cycles, and can soothe them and their twin.

If you put your twins in the same cot, follow the same safe sleeping advice as for a single baby. They should be placed on their backs with the tops of their heads facing one another and their feet at opposite ends of the cot, or side by side on their backs, with their feet at the foot of the cot. Use a single cot for co-bedding, but not a Moses basket, as it’ll be too small for two babies.

Read Next: 9 Things You Need To Know About Raising Twins

Clothes dryer

A clothes dryer can be a huge help as drying in the winter can be a long and tedious process. It can save on ironing as clothes come out of the dryer soft and ready to be folded away.

Mom’s Tip:  "A good double or triple buggy that suits your lifestyle is vital. I would recommend investing in a large play mat and some bouncer chairs or baby swing chairs. You will need two cots – babies often share one cot in the beginning and sometimes parents have one cot downstairs and one upstairs. I would recommend having two decently- sized baskets, one downstairs and one upstairs, so that you don’t have to leave the babies to search for nappies or clean clothes during the day, or carry the babies up and downstairs every time they need a change – there will be a lot of changes in the early days." Lorraine McCarthy is a mother of twins and chairperson of the IMBA.

Prams and pushchairs

This is probably the most important piece of twin gear you will purchase. Take your time to make a decision and ask other parents of twins for their advice. You can opt for a twin pram or double pushchair. Double pushchairs come in two basic configurations: 'Tandem', where the seats are arranged in a line with one behind the other; or 'side-by-side', where the children sit next to each other. Prams generally come facing towards you, but some models can be changed as the children grow, to face outwards.

Consider the following factors before making the purchase:
How often will you use it? Where will you use it? Do you have steps up to your door? Do you have enough storage space ? Will you need to store it in your car or do you rely on public transportation? How big is the double when folded up? Will it fit in your vehicle? Will it fit on pavements, through doorways, down aisles? You may want to measure your doorways before you buy to ensure it will at least fit through your doors.

Newborn prams must fully recline
For newborn twins, it is important to have fully reclining seats. Carrycot options on some models are available and this can make a cosy environment for newborn twins.

Test it first
You wouldn't buy a car without bringing it for a test drive, the same applies to buying a pram or buggy for twins. The best way to determine whether a double will operate comfortably is to physically push it around and test it out.

Keep a chart

The IMBA advises that parents of twins should keep a chart of each baby’s feeding, sleeping and nappy changes and to note down any comments or concerns you may have. It will help you to remember who had what, when. This also makes it easier for when someone is helping you to care for the babies while you rest.

For more information, check out: 

The Irish Multiple Births Association (IMBA), Twins UK, and Breastfeeding.ie


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