Receiving news that it is going to be twins can be overwhelming, whether you are a first timer or an experienced mother, especially if your support group is small or if there is going to be no additional help other than you and your spouse. Allow yourself ample time to think and get your thoughts around this anticipated event. With careful thought and planning one can not only manage efficiently but also be able to enjoy having two babies at the same time.
Do a lot of reading. Both books and internet are a good source to get an idea of what to expect. Next plan the basic necessities such as material things needed for the babies, scheduling meals for yourself etc. (Depending on where you live you can find very good second hand furniture, seasonal discounts on clothing, car seats, strollers, special offers on diapers and formula etc ahead of time). Time becomes a precious commodity once the babies arrive.
It is very important to take care of your body. Diet must now include the needs of the babies. So look for foods that provide healthy calories so that you do not add on unnecessary weight. Depending on the frame of your body the weight of your belly will add additional stress on the legs and back. A little exercise everyday is very important to work the muscles and to refresh the mind. Your doctor can advise as to how much you can do a day. Start at the three month stage and try to continue for as long as possible as it will get progressively harder.
Common Illness or Discomfort
Opt for natural home remedies and natural products first. Plenty of information is available in books and online. Medicines are to be taken under a doctor’s guidance.
At the hospital
When the time has arrived make sure you have a basic kit ready to carry with you. If all is well with the babies and you, plan to have a natural birth. The experience is worthwhile and it helps to prepare yourself mentally for what you may have to face. Read about experiences of others and if you have the opportunity to watch programmes related to birth, it is educational. C-sections are benefit hospitals financially and many too easily opt for that route especially with multiples. Make sure you and your doctor discuss all the options ahead of time and you are not put under undue pressure at the last minute.
While at the hospital allow the nurses to assist with the babies as much as possible especially during the night. Request them to bring them to you for scheduled feedings so that you begin the breastfeeding process as early as possible even if the babies do not feed very well at first.
The first couple of weeks are the hardest, while you are trying to manage this new responsibility. So arrange for whatever help you can get for the rest of the duties with your spouse or from anyone else who is willing to help. Breastfeeding is the best for the babies. But if you are able to only partially breastfeed, don't give up for as long as you can. The whole experience can be quite stressful and milk flow reduces with stress. Use a breast pump if you have access to one, so that others can help with the feeding while you rest. Pumping will also help with the flow of milk secretion. As an alternative, breast feed during the day and pump some for the night and add on some formula for the night. This is will give you the much needed rest during the nights. Keep a chart for feeding with names so that you are sure that both babies are fed every time.
Infants to kindergartners
Having children changes ones life tremendously. Some changes are easier to deal with than others. Following are some tips that can ease a few difficulties in child rearing.
As with all children, the most important requirement in parents is patience. And with twins it requires twice the amount. Competition is high among twins which need to be harnessed positively. Help them learn about sharing by providing toys that both can play at the same time and that helps with creativity too. Avoid buying two of everything so that they can learn to share. Having said that all kids love to have something special of their own and they can be indulged occasionally. Twins have a strong bonding that is unique in multiples. But they also have to learn to be on their own. Along with competition comes sibling rivalry. Guide them to sort out their own issues among themselves. Make sure that they are made to spend even half hour apart on a regular basis. This time can be used to play alone, doing activities outside the home, arranging play-dates alternatively with someone, or spending time with one parent while the other is with the other parent. As kids are curious, questions are abundant as they ar
e growing up. With twins one has to be patient enough to answer the same question twice or to watch a performance twice etc.
Next important requirement is following a schedule. From meals, to sleep, to play time etc scheduling helps children know what to expect in a day. It also helps parents find some down time at the end of the day which sometimes gets forgotten in the maze of jobs, chores and activities.
Promote individuality by giving them names with very different sounds and spelling. Dress them very differently if possible. When similar clothes are given as gifts, use them at different times. Encourage them to start dressing themselves as early as possible. One can see their own styles develop and parents can follow the cues. Constantly remind them to be different and provide opportunities for them to do so. Do not compare at any level - as there will be differences in size, color, temperament, developmental and cognitive abilities especially in fraternal twins. Make an effort to appreciate them for different things even during a similar activity as much as possible.
Most importantly appreciate yourselves! Don't forget to acknowledge the effort and hard work that you as parents are investing in the children. Make some room for mistakes which will inevitably happen. Remember we don't own our children, but are merely guardians helping them to a future where they can live well adjusted lives.
(This article was written by a counselor who is a parent of twins, with inputs from other parents of twins)