What should we do if one of our twins cries while the other is sleeping?
Emma says she coped by relaxing her standards. “You have to come to terms with the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to keep the house spanking clean,” she says. “And if you just concentrate on the babies for at least the first three months, you will be a lot less stressed about everything.” She was lucky enough to have a mother who dropped in every day for weeks and did the dishes – then disappeared. “That type of help you really need.”
Finally, swap stories and advice about twins and multiples and being pregnant with multiples with others in the BabyCenter Community
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Plus, a typical day with one baby, let alone two, is chaotic enough. A twin-baby schedule gives the day a reassuring framework — as tiny as they are, tots feel more secure and soothed by the predictability of a routine. And it can be comforting to you too. After all, when you’re drowning in poopy diapers and spit-up, it’s nice to know that your twin babies will be snoozing in about a half hour (not that you’re counting the minutes or anything…).
“My local twins club morning coffee has been fantastic for establishing contact with other mothers of multiples,” says Emma. “I started going when I was pregnant to get a feel for it – a bit scary at first, but it is better than being thrown in the deep end,” she says.
Of course, a twin-baby schedule should be something to shoot for — not an iron-clad routine you don’t dare break. If one newborn is crying with hunger, for instance, don’t make her hold out until her sib is ready for a snack as well. And if one is nodding off, let her snooze, even if it doesn’t fall in line with her sleep schedule (and her other half isn’t tired yet). Also remember this when you’re setting up a routine: All babies are different — you may have one fussy, unpredictable twin and one easygoing babe, so getting them to nap and eat at the same times won’t always be easy. But at least if have one reliable nap-time routine, you’ll know when your calmer tyke will be sleeping, so you can offer the higher-needs tot some one-on-one soothing. You might even be able to enjoy a nap with that baby, a luxury parents of twins can’t always afford when they’re worried about the other little one waking at any moment and demanding a bottle or boob.
Find out why certified pediatric nurse practitioner Dr. Maureen Keefe says not to worry about it.
The short answer is as much as you can. But the deciding factors will still come down to what works best for you and your family, your babies’ health, how you feel physically and emotionally, your financial circumstances, and your workplace environment.
Of course! In terms of supply, feeding two is no harder than feeding one because increased demand increases milk production. But finding a method that works will take practice and patience. The trick is to find a comfortable position that works for you.
Your concern is perfectly understandable. After all, caring for one child is daunting enough for many new parents, and the prospect of having two (or more) at the same time can be a real jolt. Remember that no parents get all the support they need – every new parent could use more time, help, training, money, and emotional backing.
With twins, these needs double, and more. You’ll require much more support than just your partner can give, so to avoid blaming each other – or yourself – when stress starts to build, plan ahead and line up additional help for after the birth. Find out whether your insurance plan will pay for a home visit from a nurse, or consider hiring a doula to help during the first days or weeks at home. (Doulas are best known as labor and delivery help, but many are willing to work as nurses – even night nurses! – for newborns.)
Learn how to deal with the challenges of nursing more than one baby at a time.
You may also be surprised to learn that when you’re pregnant with twins or more, your employer isn’t obligated by law to allow you any more time off than if you were having one baby. Many mothers of multiples, however, find getting back into the swing of things more difficult.
Parents of multiples will empathize with your situation like no one else can. Kosko, the part-time consultant, began attending Multiples of America club meetings when she was pregnant. “There are a lot of things that can make your life easier, and it’s worth investigating, even if you’re not a joiner,” she says.
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If you feel you need more time off, consider discussing the matter with your company’s human resources department, or talk to your boss about taking an extended leave or making part-time or work-from-home arrangements. If you can afford it, you may also decide to take a break from your career. Remember, whatever you decide will work for you is the right answer to this question.
What’s a perfect twin-baby schedule for the multitasking multiples mom? A fairly flexible eating-sleeping-playing routine that makes the early months with your darling duo much more manageable.
Geri Martin Wilson of Palo Alto, California, breastfed her twins until they were 2 years old. She used a twin nursing pillow with each twin’s head cradled in a hand. If you can make it work, simultaneous nursing saves time and has other benefits as well. “Nursing at the same time helped put them on the same nap schedule,” says Martin Wilson. “If one woke up at night, 95 percent of the time we woke the other up and I nursed him or her, too.”
How can I make caring for twins easier? Can I still breastfeed with twins? How long a maternity leave should I plan on taking? How can I find other parents of multiples to talk to?
Case in point: Many mothers of twins find the gawking and comments that people can make insensitive and inappropriate. “With multiples, you feel you’re on display, and it’s nice to come home to this group and not feel that way,” says Kosko. “Here, when you’ve got one baby on one knee and you’re burping the other, nobody bats an eye.”
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As for maternity leave, the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after you give birth. Companies with fewer than 50 employees – the vast majority – are exempt, although they may have their own policies. If you work in a three-person office and you’re indispensable, you may find it tough to take time off.
“Make sure you have family or friends on call if you need them,” advises Emma of New Zealand, the mother of identical girls, Charlotte and Alaina. “You have to let people know exactly what you want. Tell them politely to go away if you don’t want them there, but don’t be too proud to ask for help if you need it.”
But for Teresa Edgington of Cincinnati, things weren’t so simple. In the beginning, she tried nursing both twins, but her boy, Christian, didn’t nurse well and required lots of bottles, so Edgington switched her strategy. “It became easier to nurse one and bottle-feed the other,” she says. “Emi is predominantly breastfed, and Christian nurses for comfort.”
On the other hand, with no strict guidelines imposed by law, you may be able to work out your own informal arrangement. “The plus side for those people working for smaller employers is that there may be more room to negotiate,” says Jennifer Kosko, who took 10 weeks’ maternity leave from her job as vice president of meetings and trade shows for an association. She then worked full-time until her twins were 3 years old and now does part-time consulting.
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Your friends, relatives, and even doctors may warn you against putting your babies on a schedule. But they don’t have twins. And while it’s usually best to respond to a newborn’s needs, whether the clock says it’s time to eat or not, twin babies are a special case.
Mothers in her group share tips on how to deal with well-meaning relatives and friends, shop for the right baby products and equipment, save money, and stay sane while juggling two or more infants – information you’re not going to get from ordinary parenting classes.
Here’s why: If your precious bundles don’t get synced up, you could be on nonstop, round-the-clock duty, putting one newborn to sleep while the other rouses from a nap and clamors to eat. That kind of care can easily exhaust even the most energetic mama. If coping with two babies makes you too tired and drained, you’ll produce less milk (if you’re trying to nurse your newborns), you won’t be happy, and bonding with your twin babies will be more difficult. And that bond is just as important to your wee ones’ well-being as anything else.
In a few months, the schedule you’re starting now will finally take shape and become somewhat predictable. You’ll actually be able to leave the house because both babies will be awake and alert at the same time! You’ll be able to shower and eat breakfast during their predictable morning nap.
And your twin babies will thrive. Until then, remember this: Kids are only newborns once. If you can make it through these first few months with your sense of humor — and maybe a bra or two — intact, you can do anything!
If no club is near you, another option is communicating via email or Facebook group – especially when you have a question in the middle of the night. “It’s fantastic to have contact with other parents of multiples, as some baby advice doesn’t always prove useful when you are coping with more than one,” Emma says. “It’s nice to know that someone out there has been through it all, too.”
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