Raising twins will bring you its fair share of joys and challenges. At one moment you are standing in awe at the cuteness of your babies and the next moment you want to rip your head off when their high octave voices are competing for some love and attention. One minute you are excited about the growth milestones you are recording while the next minute, the mayhem of toys left behind is driving you crazy. Such is the life of First Time Twin Mum and Polly has gone through it all. She shares with us some of the tips which helped her raise her boy-girl twins (Matt and Abby) in a better way. Some of these tips she learned the hard way through trial and error methods.
Polly shares that she breastfed her twins exclusively for six months. She recounts that it was a struggle but knowing all the benefits breastfeeding would bring to both her and the babies, she made it a point to hydrate after every feed and eat the nutritious foods as recommended by the pediatrician.
“ I realized that I was able to stimulate milk a lot more easily during the morning hours from 5.oo to around 8.00.” She took advantage of this milk supply stimulation hours and expressed milk then later breastfeed the babies when they woke up. This enabled her to keep up the supply and ensure that her babies were fed the right and recommended quantities.
AS WHO recommends, breastfeeding will provide all the energy and nutrients that infants need in the first months of life. Breast Milk is safe, clean and contains antibodies that will protect against many childhood diseases. Research conducted by WHO shows that children who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months and subsequently through two years with complementary nutritional foods after six months, have a reduced risk of childhood diseases and have higher IQ than children who are not exclusively breastfed.
To ensure you are supplying enough milk for your babies, eat nutritious foods and hydrate regularly. You can always seek help from a lactation consultant if you need a little help with boosting your milk supply.
Tandem Nursing is one way of achieving the same nursing schedule for twins while saving time.
Get them on the same schedule.
“I realized that having them on the same sleep and feeding schedule helped me achieve more time to focus on other issues and my ‘me’ time. It took some training and patience but we were finally able to get them on the same sleep and feeding schedule. They both slept at 7.00 pm and woke up at 9.00 am when they were younger.”
To get your babies on the same sleep schedule, you will need to get them on the same feeding schedule first. Some First Time Twin Mum will wake up their babies if one is hungry while other mothers will prefer to feed them at different times. In this case, you have to identify which method will work best for your babies. Introducing a dream feed for babies 3 months and below will reduce the frequency of the times they wake up at night. Note that babies should be nursed every four hours which will translate to 8- 12 times a day. As they grow older, the nursing frequency will reduce as you start to introduce solid foods.
“Matt and Abby stopped waking up in the middle of the night when we started introducing solid complementary feeds at 6 months. It gets easier as they grow.”
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies should sleep in their cots and in the parent’s room for the first 6 months and optimally for a year. AAP says that babies sleeping in the same room as their parents will reduce the risk of deaths by 50%.
“ I think we went ahead of ourselves when planning for the nursery. Abby and Matt did not use it until they were 12 months old.”
Co-bedding with twins can be challenging and it is highly discouraged. Instead, opt for a crib with a tight-fitting mattress. Ensure that the crib aligns with the Cribs safety guidelines set out by the CPSC. Alternatively, you can use one large enough crib for both twins and use a crib divider for twins to separate the crib into two separate individual sleeping spaces.
Get help to manage twins early.
When asked what she would have done differently, Polly admits that she wished she could have gotten help earlier. “It was always hectic during clinic visits and vaccinations. Having to care for one baby is exhausting enough let alone two.”
She advises First Time Twin Mum to invest in a good nanny who has previous experiences in handling multiples. Your babies’ safety is your priority and you’d want to know that they are safe even when they are in the care of a nanny. Get a trained nanny from a reputable training institution and let her know the values you uphold and how you want to raise your twins. Here are three steps to help you decide the suitable nanny care for twins
1) Clearly define the goal
Do you want a daytime nanny, a nighttime nanny or someone to help you for a few hours? Defining these goals clearly will help you understand what you want in a nanny and choose one against the criteria. Define the values, the traits and the experience level you would want for a person handling your kids.
2) Plan early
Researching for a nanny may take longer than you anticipate. After all, there’s so much on your hands already with the prenatal visits, the nursery planning, and insurance coverage nitty-gritty. Plunge ahead, when you are still pregnant. This will give you ample time to choose a nanny whose visions align with what you have in mind and one with the experience level you want.
3) Follow up on references and certifications
So you have found a suitable candidate(s)?
Following up on the stated references will give you an in-depth understanding of their previous experiences and what to expect if you are to hire them. Check the validity of the provided certification. Remember you’re number one goal is your babies’ safety.
4) Trust your mommy gut
There’ll be that one nanny among the many interviewed whom you’ll with. Is she easy to talk to, straightforward? Does she have the qualities you are seeking? At the end of the day you want a positive response when you ask yourself, can I trust this nanny with the life of my kids?
Join a Twin moms’ community
Polly discovered her twin mom community when Matt and Abby were one year old. “It is remarkable having people who understand you as much because they are in the same shoes you are in.”
A good support community will help you gain reassurance, have your questions answered, give you access to contacts of medical professionals and invaluable advice to the best twin baby gear out there which will make raising twins much easier.
“Through the support group I joined, I was able to get information on a good diaper brand which did not affect my kids as the others had.”
There are numerous support groups both online and in local areas. Identify one which will be beneficial in your journey. Who knows, life long friendships may be formed as a result.
Dealing with Baby Problems
As Polly narrates, Matt had gastroesophageal Reflux while Abby had Colic. This was a stressful time for both Polly and her partner. Numerous visits to the doctor did not solve the matter as they were only given the same expensive medicine which did not solve the issue. A doctor recommended that Matt and Abby be put on soya milk instead of the baby formula. This approach worked for Matt and Abby and it was clear that both of them were intolerant to the formula milk.
Anthony Porto says that Reflux is part of a normal growth process in most babies. Studies show that 20% of babies have dealt with reflux. It is common in newborns as they have a slightly smaller oesophagus which develops with age. Antony says that parents can let go of their fears as the reflux will reduce after babies are six months old.
1) Putting the baby on the back while sleeping.
Contrary to the myths, babies will not choke on their ‘spit up contents’ due to the gag reflex. Instead, they will spit it out or swallow the fluid. He says that this is a better sleeping position than putting the baby’s on their tummies which may lead to SIDS in infants
2) Burp at natural pause during feeding
3) After feeding, keep the child upright for thirty minutes
4) Go for smaller, more frequent feeding but make sure that your baby is getting the recommended feed quantities.
Colic is characterized by intense crying in healthy babies who have no health issues whatsoever. The baby will clench their fists and their abdominal muscles will be visibly tense. To relieve the symptoms, you can:
1soak the baby in warm water for a few minutes. This will help them calm down
2) Lay the baby on your lap while on her tummy while rocking her gently.
3)Try Infant massage.
4) Put a warm water bottle on the baby’s tummy to see if they’ll come down.
There you have it. Being a First Time Twin Mum is an awesome ride with a lot of fun memories and activities to look forward to. With these tips for first-time twin moms, you will be able to make better decisions and possibly have better outcomes in raising your twins. We would love to learn the tips which have helped you through the years in the comments section below.