Practical tips for twins
Multiples

Practical tips for twins

Hearing that you are expecting twins can come with a whole heap of emotions. Joy, worry, excitement as well as feeling totally overwhelmed…

So what are the practical tips for twins that really work? What do you need to know before you begin this amazing but challenging journey?

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding offers major health advantages for all infants, whether born singleton or from multiple pregnancy. It also provides benefits to the mothers.

When you are breastfeeding your twins it may take a little time to find a position that you like and feel comfortable with. You can try a combination of positions, however initially you may find it easier to concentrate on one baby at a time, or your midwife/partner may help you when positioning the two babies at the same time.

The HSE website breastfeeding.ie advises that when you are confident latching on one baby then you can try the two babies together – this will save you time and your babies will love being close with you and each other at the breast.

It always helps in the early days to feed in a big bed or big sofa, you in the middle with plenty of pillows all around to support your back and to lift up your babies if needed.

Your milk is made on demand, the more you feed the more you make. You will have plenty of milk for both babies once you feed on demand, for as long as each baby needs to.

Bottle-feeding

If there is anyone in the house with you, ask them to feed a baby. This is where bottle feeding comes in very handy.

If you’re on your own, after a few weeks, you can prop up the bottles and feed the babies together.

The IMBA maintains that bouncers are great for this, put the baby into it and put a towel or something similar under them to prop up the bottle. Also, the buggy is very useful for this. You can also sit on the ground with your back against a wall or couch for support and hold the bottles in the babies’ mouths, then wind one on your shoulder while continuing to feed the other(s) and vice versa.

The main thing with bottle feeding is to get as much help as you can.

The IMBA also recommends that if you plan to bottlefeed it might be time to invest in a dishwasher. The association advises expectant parents of twins to consider the practicalities of washing and sterilising 12 or more bottles a day – newborns often require six to eight bottles each a day at the start.

Keep a chart

The IMBA advises that parents of twins should keep a chart of each baby’s feeding, sleeping and nappy changes and to note down any comments or concerns you may have. It will help you to remember who had what did what when – this makes it easier for when someone is helping you to care for the babies while you rest.

Batch cook

If you have time, spend an afternoon cooking up one or two week’s supply of meals that you store in the freezer. It’s really important for mums to eat properly once the babies arrive. Also order your grocery shopping online and stock up on all the essentials.

real mums advice 2

Mum of twins Catherine Rafferty shares her hard earned knowledge.

“My twin boys were my second and third children. Physically, it was the hardest thing to carry them to 38 weeks and two days and beg for an induction! It’s just truly amazing what a woman’s body can do in order to grow and carry 20 toes and fingers, four legs and arms, four eyes and ears and two beautiful heads….

Well, you aren’t thinking that exactly when they are shouting, “I can see the head…one more push!”

You could write a book on baby care tips for multiples, as it’s more than double the work of a singleton baby. It is difficult to understand that unless you have been there.

Preparation is key. This will apply to everything you do with your multiples, but especially around bath time. Set everything out beforehand – towels, nappies, vests, powder and clothes.

My second tip is to stick to a routine as much as you can. I used one that an army sergeant would be proud of! They napped at the same time, had their nappies changed at the same time, ate at the same time etc.

For the here and now, it is not about individual personalities and choices (that day will come) it is about getting through the next 24…no 12 hours and keeping both children fed and watered!

Okay, if there was to be one more tip it would be to always use these words… repeat after me…”yes please”. If someone offers to get you bread and milk from the shop…say, ”yes please.” Someone else offers to watch your babies while you have a shower that takes longer than Usain Bolt to sprint a 100m you say…”Yes please.”

There are no medals arriving in the post for going it alone and managing it yourself.

Try get into the swing of feeding tandem and you will soon learn that babies that feed together sleep together!

But remember at the end of the day, not everyone gets chosen to be a multiple mother and it is difficult at times but as the saying goes, “The harder the struggle the greater the reward.”

More like this:

Twin gear essentials 
Tips on breastfeeding twins
Help! I’m expecting twins

ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.

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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.