Having multiples comes with extra demands, not only on the body during pregnancy, but also on the mental and physical health on the parents once they are born. These demands buildup even further where twins or more multiples are concerned. So much so, that it has attracted attention from researchers. A study published in the Pediatrics Journal points out that moms with multiples are 43 percent more likely to undergo postpartum depression than moms of singletons.
New parents, therefore, need as much support as they can get in taking care of their newborns. While some are bold enough to ask for it, there are those who won’t and suffer in silence. Ask the parents how they would like you to help. Depending on your relationship with them and their level of comfort, there are various ways on how to help parents of twins.
Different Ways to Help Parents of Twins and Tips on Doing it Right
It is understandable to get excited when your daughter or son, friend, sibling or close acquaintance brings forth a pair or more. However, you should not let the excitement get the better part of you. This is the time to show them that you care, and the best way to do this is by respecting their need for privacy and rest. The initial days also mean a lot to the family, more so for the dad who will likely be going back to work, since it is their time to bond
Do not ambush them by showing up unannounced. Instead, send a congratulatory message and let them know you are available once they are open to receiving visitors. Also mention that they can call in case they need any help before then. Once you get an invitation, do not add to their strain or overwhelm them with your demands. Keep the visit short and offer them relief by undertaking some tasks. In case you don’t have a clue on where to begin, here are some areas to explore if you want to help parents of twins.
Help with Feeding
The most basic way to help with feeding is to support the parents’ feeding choices. If they opt for exclusive nursing, there isn’t much you can do beyond showing support and giving the mom privacy when it is time to feed.
If this is not their only option, help with night time feeding. Seeing that new parents are sleep-deprived, a little help at night will help them catch a little more sleep. If the babies are being bottle-fed, offer to spend the night with them and help with the feedings. You can stay in and monitor the babies while both parents sleep. Once one of them wakes up, feed them before waking the other twin up. Put them back to sleep once done.
If you can’t manage this, sub for one parent and let the other one sleep. The parents can rotate with one of them waking up for each feed. Helping with the feeding allows each of the parents to catch a little more sleep, which is essential. If you can’t manage to stay the night, offer the same help during the day so the parents can take a nap or just rest.
Prepare Family Meals
The nutritional demands change a little especially for the mum. She requires appropriate nutritional provisions to aid in her recovery as well as boost milk production. Additionally, everyone has to be well-fed to remain healthy and energetic. Yet, cooking takes time which new parents don’t have plenty of.
Ensuring that they have decent meals will go a long way. There are different ways to help with this. You could shop for groceries, meal prep for them and stock up the fridge with items that don’t require much of their time. Also, cook what you can when around and leave it with them.
Another option is to cook at your place and take it to them. They can then freeze it and pick on the go. Home meal deliveries from local restaurants are another way to offer them relief from worrying what the next meal will be. Having the family enjoy their favorite meals without sweating it out is a relief and they will all enjoy it.
Offering help with the chores eliminates one more thing that the parents would have to worry about. Clean up their house, tidy up the living room and organize common areas. Do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. If they are comfortable with it, go ahead and sterilize the bottles. Also empty the diaper bin and trash cans.
With two newborns, laundry piles up too fast. There are additional clothes, burp cloths, sheets, and blankets which all need frequent washing. Doing laundry is not always possible as the parents are still adjusting to their new life. Ask if you can help with that. Clear up the growing pile and fold the clothes ready for use
Look After their Other Children and Pets
With a set of newborns, the initial days can be hard. As a result, the pets and older children may feel neglected especially if they were used to getting all the attention. Looking after them will not only be good for them but the parents too. The kids get a pleasant break while the parents are left to concentrate on the newborns knowing well that the other members of the family are well-taken care of.
If they have a dog, offer to take them to the dog park or for walks. If you have your own dogs, a play date and a sleepover would be great too. Take the other kid(s) for a day out. Have fun at a park, museum, or even after school event. If you can’t take them somewhere, shower them with attention at home. Play board games, have fun coloring, or engage in indoor games. You could also take the child for the night or a few days so they can feel the love extra attention for a while.
Shop for Them
Twins need a lot of supplies. Diapers, wipes and rash cream all run out too soon. Without enough of these, it can be quite inconveniencing for both the parents and the babies. Having newborn also means that there are frequent visitors checking on the family. The depletion of basic household supplies could, therefore, be quicker than anticipated. Shop and deliver baby supplies, toiletry and food. You can also ask if there is anything particular they need. Where you can’t do it in person, order online and have it delivered to them.
Watch Over the Babies
With newborn multiples, some basic undertakings take a back seat and at times it is hard to do even the least demanding tasks. Offer to watch over the babies as the mum takes a long shower. Have them take a relaxing soak or an uninterrupted nap even just for a few minutes without worrying that there might be no one to pick the babies if they wake up or start crying.
Ask the new parents what is on their to-do list and help tick them off. You can do this either by running the errands for them or with them. If the mum needs to call a lactation consultant, do it for her. Take the car to the garage for maintenance or fill it with gas when it is running low.
If there are tasks they would rather do themselves, do them together. Look after the twins as the mom picks nipple cream, browses through nursing pads or tries on nursing bras. Be there with her and the babies as she picks whatever she needs so she can be at ease.
Toe the Line
All parents have a unique way of bringing up their children. The key to being helpful is to understand their needs and respect their boundaries. Offer help that is appropriate depending on your relationship status. For example, some moms may not be comfortable handing the baby to an outsider but may be open to someone else handling the kitchen. Help where they want you to and avoid imposing your ideals on them.
Caring for newborn twins takes a toll on the parents. Even when you can’t offer any visible assistance, help the new parents of twins to remain focused using words. Build their confidence by pointing out the things they are doing right. Assure them that they are doing a great job and if they are not feeling like it is their best, let them know that they will be okay. In case they ask for advice, remain positive and choose your words carefully. Work on building their confidence, not trampling it.
Even as you are offering help to new parents of twins, remember to stay away from the home of a newborn if you are sick. The immune system of infants is still developing and they are quite vulnerable. The last thing you want is for them to catch a bug from you. Also, wash your hands upon getting there without waiting to be told.