We are lucky to have Ella Rachamim, paediatrician and mother of twins (as well as one other child), give us some useful tips on getting through the first year with twins. As a new mum, it is hard enough having one little baby, can you imagine two at the same time (or even three)? It must be a great challenge, but so rewarding being able to see two little people evolve and grow in front of your very eyes…
For parents of twins, the challenges are huge. I can’t stress this enough, they will need HELP! It is not so much how to manage the first year, it is more like how to survive the first year. I found that the biggest difficulties are:
– getting enough sleep
– keeping up with minimal housework
– feeling isolated
– managing to get out and about (more difficult than you think)
Mums of twins will need help from friends, family, neighbours and spouses; this help can really make the difference between making it and falling apart for a new mum.
Many people want to help but they don’t know how. Also, don’t forget everyone comes to help in the first few weeks and then moves on – it is important for a mum of twins to ‘schedule’ ahead and space out helpers over time.
How you as a visitor can help
Bring food when you visit
Freeze dinners ahead of time to build up stock
Plan a dinner rota with a group of friends and neighbours
Bring mum a drink e.g. a cup of tea can do wonders
Give a foot massage or back rub while she is nursing or feeding
Change the babies or hold one whilst the other is sleeping / feeding
Help at night with feeding and positioning and changing the baby
Listen to mum if she is scared / tired / stressed or some combination of all!
Do the laundry, put clothes away, do the dishes
Tell her she is doing a good job caring for the babies, lots of praise really goes a long way
Clean up the kitchen or do the vacuuming
Prepare meals in advance
Visitors – Please take note:
Don’t expect to be entertained
Give mum and dad support and encouragement
Don’t undermine their confidence eg “Are you sure those babies are getting enough to eat?” or “Are they not sleeping through the night yet?” Comments like these do not help any new mum, especially mums of twins.
“Mothering the mother” and “Fathering the father” – helping with the household chores can be much more useful than taking over the care of the babies
Don’t disappear after the first 3 months, parents may need help for the whole of the first year!
For parents of twins
1) Have a look at the Facebook groups set up for parents of twins e.g. “marvellous multiple mums” or a group for dads called “dads of twins”
2) Get support from local twins/triplet groups run voluntarily by parents. Most areas have these and they run toddler and baby groups, new parent and bump coffee mornings, summer parties, nights out (yes you will get out at night too), newsletters, twin buddy systems and much more. (See more here and here).
3) For Jewish parents of twins/triplets there is a wonderful group, Norwood Jewish Twins group, based at Kennedy Leigh Centre in Hendon, London. They have volunteers look after the children whilst you have a cup of tea and a chat with the other twins mums. Contact Ruth Conroy on 0208 457 4453.
4) There is a specific charity, TAMBA, with their very own Twinline, 08001380509, open from 10am-1pm and 7pm to 10pm. They also provide email support to help with feeding difficulties in the early days, email firstname.lastname@example.org TAMBA runs information talks, antenatal and parenting older multiples courses and have a wealth of online information. (Twins and Multiples Births’ Association, http://www.tamba.org.uk/)
5) I myself run “antenatal expecting twins or more” courses in the North London area – Expecting Twins or More?
Best advice of all: Enjoy your babies, they will be grown up before you know it!
Ella Rachamim is a paediatrician,mother to a busy 3 year old and lively 2 year old identical twin girls, and Director of Be Ready to Parent. Her team run antenatal courses with paediatric first aid courses, expecting twins courses, weaning workshops and professional training days, with ongoing postnatal support as standard. She works closely with a practicing midwife, a maternity nurse, a women’s health physiotherapist and a parent counsellor. Please feel free to contact Ella with any further questions at email@example.com.