If you have twins, or just found out you are having twins, CONGRATULATIONS!!
This can be an overwhelming and exciting thing to hear from your doctor, or in my and my husband’s case, the ultrasound technician.
Here are my top ten parenting tips as a twin parent and pediatrician to many twin families.
- Expect a rush of emotions. When you first find out you may feel happy, scared, excited, surprised, and more! Be sure to take some time with your partner to get excited and talk about it. My husband and I had to laugh a lot to stay sane thinking about the craziness that was about to start, but it is all worth it.
- Schedule is everything. My best advice on twins to date is that routine and staying on a schedule is important. It is important for your twins as well as for you and your partner. If one is eating, the other one should be eating, if one is sleeping, the other one should be sleeping.
- Support is key. Support from your spouse is obviously the most important, but support from your family, friends, your pediatrician, and twin groups is also important. Everyone is going to ask if you need anything and everyone wants to help. Say yes! Do not feel guilty to ask for help as well. Tell your friends and family what you need. Ask them to pick up a few things from the grocery store, ask them to come over to watch the kids while you shower, ask them to come over just for an extra set of hands.
- Breastfeeding is possible. Breastfeeding is hard for any mother in the first few weeks. You might make enough breastmilk for both babies, or you might need to supplement with some formula. It can be an overwhelming thought to breastfeed twins, but with the support of your spouse, a lactation specialist, and your pediatrician, you have the best chance for success.
- Try and get out a little. Taking twins out is hard, but with a little practice, you can get good at it. When you feel up to it, go for a walk, go to to the store and back, get out of the house. It does not have to be for long, but getting out for a short period of time makes you feel like a normal person again. It is a great accomplishment.
- Find time for yourself and for your partner. The first few months will be a whirlwind and you likely won’t find much time to do this. When you do have a moment to yourself, take it. Nurturing two needy newborns is incredibly challenging. Do not feel guilty. Also, try and have a date night 2-3x/month. It helps you reconnect. If you are like my husband and me, you will talk about the kids the whole time, but it is nice to have some time together.
- Postpartum blues and postpartum depression are real. Everyone’s experience is different, but just from my experience my emotions and postpartum blues were stronger when I had my twins. This could have been because they were my first children, but I know I felt much more overwhelmed with having the responsibility of two children right away. I would cry tears of happiness and tears from being overwhelmed everyday for about a month. For most, it gets better every day as you get more confident as a parent. However, if you do need more help, your pediatrician is a good resource. In addition, local resources such as NorthShore University HealthSystem’s postpartum depression hotline which is answered live 24 hours a day (1-866-364-6667) are available.
- One baby may need more attention than the other. You will find out that one baby may be more needy than the other baby at times. Do not feel guilty about holding one baby more than the other. This will even out over time, and they will take turns needing more attention.
- Comparing your twins is inevitable. You have kids the same age, so when one walks sooner than the other or when one starts talking sooner than the other, do not worry. They are different kids, they just happen to have the same birthday. If you have concerns one may have some developmental delay this is a good thing to discuss with your pediatrician.
- Take some time with one child at a time. As your twins get older, some one on one time with each parent can help to foster your relationship. This can be as simple as taking one child to the grocery store, the park, or to lunch. It is not only good for the child, but is also good for the parents.
As you enter the world of parenting multiples, it is okay to be nervous or scared. People assume twins are twice as hard as one baby, and it is harder. However, this parenting role is also so incredibly rewarding!
(A great resource for parents of twins is “Raising Twins, From Pregnancy to Preschool,” By Shelly Vaziri Flais, MD, FAAP.)
Written by Dr. Kate Messing