Tips for Expecting and New Moms of Twins: Part I: The First Week Home

Monday, April 14, 2014

Having newborn twins is hard!  
Ask any parent of multiples and they will tell you the same.  Last week I was at the dentist, he has fraternal girl twins that turn 28 this year.  Yet he can still recall how difficult the beginning was for him and his wife.  He joked that he didn't sleep for an entire year.   

Although a lot of my memories from the girls first six months, like my dentist, are hazy (thank you sleep deprivation) I thought it might be helpful to create a list of things I wish I knew before having twins to help out any soon-to-be or new mamas of multiples. 

As I was writing these tips I realized my post was getting pretty long. If you have new twins, I know you barely have time to read, so I decided to break it down into three parts.

Part I:  Getting Started- That First Week Home


1.  Accept Family Help or Hire a Night Nurse/Doula:  I had no idea how difficult bringing home 2 tiny little babies and recovering from a c-section was going to be for me (and my husband).  With two babies there isn't really an option for taking turns to sleep. The girls weren't born wanting to eat, sleep, wake, cuddle, and soil diapers at the same time every day. 

My husband and I were so exhausted! A 90 minute stretch of sleep was a gift those first two months.  

The first three weeks I had someone with me 24/7, and I was very thankful.  I was fortunate that my mom, mother-in-law, and older sister were each able to spend a week with me and the girls.  Sometimes it can be hard when family members step in to help.  Having a clear plan of what you would like your helpers to do will save you time and hurt feelings.  For me, it was cooking, cleaning (laundry, dishes, etc..), and spending time with the girls in between feedings while I attempted to snooze.  

My mom, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law were able to come by 1 or 2 days a week for the first few months. Having the extra help was essential to my well being! Really I don't know how I would have eaten let alone showered without them.

We also had a housekeeping service come clean bi-weekly. What a blessing! One less thing to worry about. 

If you don't have family or friends able to help out, or even if you do, consider hiring a night nurse or doula. I know my hospital offered a program where you could hire certified doulas.  I had a really sweet, patient doula who had experience with multiples come out to help me a few times that first month.  She was great at offering advice that I just didn't think of in my sleep deprived state.  I think she saw me cry twice, but she just offered me a shoulder to lean on. 

I can't stress enough that asking for help will be better than going at this alone.  

2.  Download an App or Have Some Form of Tracking the Twins’ Schedules:  My husband and I downloaded an app on our phones to help us keep track of feeding, diaper changes, sleep times, etc.  We used Baby Connect. It was nice being able to sync with other phones and devices, so that all involved knew the girls' schedules.   Sleep deprivation makes remembering which baby did what impossible. 

Our girls are identical.  I used to paint one of G's big toes red so that I could tell them apart those first few weeks.  I was so worried that in my sleep deprived fog I would mix them up. 

3.  Consider a Schedule For the Twins Right Away: I read a lot of baby books while on bed rest, The Happiest Baby on the BlockSecrets of a Baby Whisperer, Babywise, and Dr. Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to name a few.  All the books differed slightly in method, but they had one thing in common, whether child or parent led-develop routines

For my own sanity, I found that I had to get my girls on the same schedule.  For the first six weeks or so, I let my girls lead.  If one woke hungry, then I would also wake and feed the other one.  Although they may not have both been crying for food at the same time the domineering one always won out.  Sometimes I would need to change diapers to wake up a sleepyhead. But if one ate, both ate. If one had a diaper change, both had diaper changes.

I also put the girls down to sleep at the same time. In the early stages the girls would almost always fall asleep while nursing. If not, I would rock and soothe the non-sleeper(s) to sleep.  But once, they began to sort out their nights and days, I followed Dr. Weissbluth's advice and would gently rock them after about 90 minutes or so of awake time until they were drowsy.   I would then lay the girls down drowsy, but awake.  

4. Chose A Pediatrician Who Supports You:  I wish I had interviewed a few pediatricians in person before giving birth.  I think I would have saved myself some trouble.  I asked around for recommendations, but I never managed to schedule an interview.  
The girls had so much trouble gaining weight those first few weeks.  I had to bring them in to the doctor’s office for daily weigh-ins.  I was constantly feeding them; which meant even less sleep.  The girls’ weight loss also required me to use a J shaped tube syringe that I would hold in their mouths while nursing. The syringe contained a bit of formula.  The pediatrician wanted to get as many calories as we could into my tiny babies. After two weeks at home, the girls stopped losing weight, but were not back up to their birth weights.  Their pediatrician wanted me to stop nursing and switch to formula only.  I was devastated!  Luckily, my sister, who is also a nurse, encouraged me to do what I thought was best.  I decided to continue nursing and supplementing as necessary.  I would never do anything to harm my girls, but I wasn't ready to quit.  She also helped me to realize that the opinion of one doctor wasn't necessary the end all be all.  So with her encouragement, I switched to a differnt pediatrician in the same practice.  He was so supportive of me nursing the girls.  He is a fabulous doctor and I am so glad I made the switch. 


5.  Sleep When You Can!  Everything Else Will Get Done Eventually!:  Seems obvious, right?  Letting go of my cleaning routines were difficult for me.  But no one was expecting me to have a perfect house (or to be showered for that matter).  Our bodies are pretty amazing and there are some serious hormones pumping through us when we become new parents. But, we aren't robots.  Our brains need sleep to function.  

Check back soon for more tips including what to buy in double before the babies arrive.

It will get easier!!!

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3 Comments »

3 Responses to “ Tips for Expecting and New Moms of Twins: Part I: The First Week Home ”

  1. Some great advice there - and I second the routine/schedule thing, it is so much easier when they eat and sleep at the same time.
    I wrote a similar post on my blog I hope you'll stop by and see what you think: http://www.supermommyclub.com/learned-first-year-parents-twins/

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  2. Yes to sleeping when you can and a schedule!!

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  3. Brilliant tips - Thanks for linking up with the Parenting Pin It Party x x

    ReplyDelete


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