Double blessings or double trouble, people seem to have different opinions when one announces that they are expecting twins. Family and friends may drop a well-meaning remark such as, “I wonder how you are going to cope,” shattering the excitement which sends reality crashing down.
Do we need 2 of everything? Can I breastfeed my twins? Should I quit my job and hire a maid or nanny? Can we afford to put them in an infant care centre?
Even parents who already have 1 or 2 children ahead of the twin pregnancy are not spared from such worries. So what are the best coping approaches for parents expecting twins?
Parents who are expecting twins should always start planning to get their baby essentials starting in the second trimester. Because the risk of delivering the babies pre-term is higher, be on the safe side and prepare yourselves early. Besides, by the time mommy hits the final trimester, the weight of the babies in utero may be too much to walk around with.
In the first few months, your newborn duo may share a crib together. This also establishes a sense of security by being near each other. They have been sharing the same constricted space for 9 months, and when parents of twins tell you that their pair seem to share a special bond, don’t bet against it. Use it to your advantage to get as much rest as you can.
They should be separated into 2 cribs or cots once either of them has learned to flip over.
Is it possible to breastfeed twins?
Breastfeed twins is challenging, but not impossible. Mommy and babies will learn from each. If possible, request to nurse the babies immediately after delivering them, and while at the hospital, seek the assistance of nurses to help to get the correct latch. A twin breastfeeding pillow is helpful as it can support both babies they are nursed together.
Demand equals to supply, so the more often Mommy latches them on, the more likely the supply will be sufficient. I strongly encourage all mothers to only latch them on during the first few weeks of life. This gives the body a good chance to establish a stable milk supply.
There may be times when Mommy feels tired from feeding the twins so frequently, and it is perfectly fine to skip a feed and let daddy or grandma offer a bottle. Some breast milk can also be expressed later use.
Extra help during the first few months should also be welcomed. Parents of twins will need all the help that they can get. If parents can afford it, hiring a confinement nanny will enable Mommy to recuperate quickly from the pregnancy and delivery. The confinement nanny’s experience can render great support to Mommy, plus who would turn down an extra pair of hands during a diaper change?
Should I quit my job and hire a helper, nanny or use an infant care centre?
This is a question that really bugs parents, and there is not definite answer. Parents should consider their needs and working lifestyles to seek the best available option.
Only a domestic helper who has experience with babies should be hired, and even so having a family member around to supervise her is essential. It is also not easy for a helper to handle 2 babies on her own. Some parents who can afford it even go to the extend of hiring 2!
Some nannies are able to handle twins, and are probably a better option than hiring a domestic helper. Nannies should have experience in handling twins, or at least some experience in caring for 2 babies of the same age together.
An infant care centre may be one of the most expensive options, which can cost parents as much as $1,500 a month for both babies. Parents would then need to reconsider if it is worthwhile for mommy to return to work, or a better idea for mommy to care for the twins on her own.
Author’s note: Many moms I know, including myself, find it more worthwhile to care for newborn twins during the first year. Parents can then consider whether to put their twins in a child care centre at 18 months old, when the cost is almost halved. It is possible to care for twins single-handedly.
Oh, Precious Sleep!
This is something that parents, of twins or not, will miss dearly. It eventually becomes a distant memory. But Mommy needs ample rest to produce sufficient breast milk, and energy to look after the babies. If housework needs to be set aside for sleep, let it be done later. Parents should work out a “duty roster” together to see how they should take turns doing the night shifts. Daddy may volunteer to be the main caregiver over the weekends while mommy replenishes some lost sleep.
A mantra to stick to when coping with twins: “It will get easier.”
Things may seem very challenging, tiring, and stressful in the first few months, but don’t give up. Tolerate and love one another, and it will be worthwhile.
Final words on coping with twins
Most moms tend to deliver their twins via a Caesarian section, and it is very important that mommy takes good care of her body, particularly the wound. If a confinement nanny cannot be hired, sought the help of relatives and friends who can take turns every other day to help out. They can help with the dishes, laundry, cook or get takeaways, and even help carry the babies while mommy gets some rest.