Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Coping with twins

Posted on: September 1, 2010

This is a guest blog written by one of my clients, Donna, who has recently given birth to twins.

I’m Donna and I am mother to two year old Grace and 9 week old fraternal twin girls Olivia and Faith.

My husband Paul and I are absolutely thrilled with our new arrivals and that we have two healthy girls.  We are extremely proud parents.  I feel particularly proud that I was able to have them successfully at home and have the birth I wanted.  We always remind ourselves how privileged we are to be blessed with twins as it is one of the hardest jobs either of us have experienced as well as being one of the most rewarding.

Before they arrived I often wondered how we were going to cope with a two year old and newborn twins.  Let me tell you, you just do!  Having said that, as each day goes by, we do find ways to make our lives easier and get into a routine that we are all happy with.

Here are a few of my tips on making day to day life easier with twins:-

1.  Accept that you will need help.  Don’t be proud or try to be super mum.  You will be extremely busy and there is just not enough of you to go around when you have multiples.  I am fortunate that my husband has his own business and works from home so he can help out from time to time however, the majority of men will need to go back to work and that is when you will need to have help.  Call on friends and relatives.  Work out what needs doing and allocate tasks to people.  It may be household chores, getting the shopping (although I do recommend you use online home delivery) or helping with older siblings if you have them. My parents live close by and are great with our two year old plus we have some fantastic friends that we can call upon.  At the end of each day, your house will resemble a jumble sale but my advice is to accept you will be busy and let the less important things go.

2.  If you do have older siblings, we found it beneficial to maintain a routine.  Your first born has always had all the attention from you, friends and family and then suddenly that changes when new babies come into the home.   This is where the help of others really comes in.  So that I could focus on Olivia and Faith, my friends and family focused on Grace.

Before we had the twins, Grace would stay with her grandparents every other weekend.  We have kept this up and she has such a good time.  She has the full attention of my parents and they make a real fuss of her.

When anyone comes to visit, they will always acknowledge Grace first and the twins second.  They would also bring a little gift or card for Grace so as she didn’t feel left out with the twins getting all of the presents. We brought Grace a play house from us and the twins when they were born, she was over the moon with that.

Nursery has been a God send for us.  Grace goes 5 mornings a week and she really enjoys it.  She plays with her friends and again gets all of the attention whilst I spend some alone time with Olivia and Faith.

Paul and I now have to share our time with three children but we make sure that one of us baths Grace every night, cuddles up on the sofa to watch her favourite tv programme and reads her a story before bed.  Paul will also take her to the park most afternoons when work permits.  This was all part of her routine before the twins came along and with some slight adjustments, we have been able to keep it.

We encourage Grace to help out with the twins and play the big sister role.  She fetches me nappies when I need them and helps me to dress them in the morning.  This way, she doesn’t resent them being around.

3.  Plan your week.  To avoid never going out of the house, plan small trips out either to the shops or to visit a friend. Life doesn’t have to end because you have twins.  There are some great support groups you can go to where you can meet other mums of multiples and also take other siblings along. Take up any offers to baby sit so as you can do one thing for yourself.  Mine is swimming.  My mum looks after the twins for a couple of hours in the morning twice a week so as I can go swimming.  It really keeps me sane!

4.  You don’t need to buy two of everything or spend a fortune on items designed for twins.  Things such as moses baskets and cots, they can share.  Co bedding can be very settling for your twins as they have been together for nine months.  Having said that, ours did not like being together in the same moses basket so we did have to get two.  They now share a cot though and are very content and happy and sleep through the night – most of the time.

5.  Your home will be chaos by the end of the day.  I just don’t have the time or energy to do all of the housework.  We decided to get a cleaner who comes once a week for two hours.  I recommend you look for a small independent cleaner rather than an agency.  An agency will tend to start from around £20 an hour whereas an independent cleaner will charge around £8 to £9 per hour.  I know it seems like more expensive but believe me, it will be money worth spending.

6.  Trying to find the time to cook and sit down and eat together is extremely challenging.  I found pre cooking and freezing some simple meals gives you that extra time to eat together when the babies are sleeping.  Just defrost and reheat.

7.  If you are feeding one baby in the middle of the night and the second baby wakes up, I found the use of a dummy beneficial.  I’m not a big fan of dummies but it really helps to keep the other twin calm until you are finished and can move on to feed the next.  I found that most of the time Olivia and Faith don’t want feeding at the same time but it does happen occasionally.

8.  Don’t worry if you can’t always settle your babies.  If they are fed, clean, winded and well, sometimes a baby just has to cry.  They will settle themselves eventually.

9.  Finally, don’t be hard on yourself.  You may want to do everything by the book particularly if you are a first time mum, but with multiples you really need to do what is best for you and your babies.  Just remember if you are content and happy then your babies will be too. An example of this was when my 2 year old Grace had an accident and needed to go to A&E.  Paul took her with a neighbour and I stayed with the twins.  The whole time the twins would not settle until Grace was home and I knew she was ok.  The twins could sense I was anxious and responded to that.

Having twins is such a special thing but nothing and nobody can prepare you for how it will change your life.  For more information on twin or multiple births visit www.tamba.org.uk

Donna has also set up a website which offers information about homebirth; she offers a free ebook at www.happyhomebirth.com

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