For most parents, the initial euphoria of expecting twins or more supersedes everything else. However, when the reality of having a multiple pregnancy sets in, many start to ask “How should we start preparing for twins?”As a parent of 2 singletons and twins, I must say parenting twins is a lot harder. But fret not. It is not mathematically two times the challenge, but it is two times the joy! Here are some tips that I hope can help you enjoy your parenting journey more.
First of all, although twin or multiple pregnancies tend to be more complicated than a singleton pregnancy, most twin pregnancies are successful under the careful guidance and regular monitoring of an experienced gynaecologist. It is also essential to keep your spirits up throughout the pregnancy.Twin pregnancies come in various forms.
- Monochorionic Monoamniotic (MCMA ) twins have no separating membrane;
- Monochorionic Diamniotic (MCDA) twins have a separating membrane consisting of amnion only (two layers);
- Dichorionic-Diamniotic (DCDA) twins have a separating membrane comprising both amnion and chorion. They may or may not have separate (or fused) placentae
Monochorionic twin pregnancy is typically complicated due to the risk of twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS).I conceived a pair of MCDA twins with increasing difference in fetal size and thus increasing the risk of TTTS. My gynae ordered me to go for weekly to bi-weekly checkups, meaning that my medical fee was at least double the usual. He also put me on standby for transfer to KKH for specialist’s attention.It didn’t help that I was already 38 years old when I conceived the twins, and it was my 4th pregnancy. My body was weak, and I was admitted into the hospital for strict bed rest for three weeks and another ten over weeks until the third trimester with the end goal of carrying the twins to full term. Read my earlier post here for more details.Throughout my pregnancy, I kept my spirits positive by doing fun games on my bed with kids, and I distracted myself by learning something new, i.e. blogging. That was when I started this blog. See my post on meaningful activities to carry out during bed rest.I delivered the babies smoothly via caesarean in week 37 for no further complications other than an unpleasant reaction to the epidural. See my earlier post here for my delivery experience.Women pregnant with twins also have a higher probability of conditions such as anaemia, polyhydramnios, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes.Although all these seem worrying, most MCDA twins thrive. The most important thing the mother should do when pregnant with twins is to eat healthily, think positive and rest well. Listen to your gynae’s advice and don’t test your physical limits.
Do you need extra help?
Extra help is a necessity for first-time mums and mothers with multiple young children. Taking care of twins is possibly a drain on the mother’s mental health, and the husband’s continuous support is vital. As I look back, both my experiences looking after my first and second born were a lot easier as compared to looking after twins. It is twice the nursing, twice the crying, twice the coaxing though twice the joy. Even with a helper at home, I slept 3 to 4 hours on a daily basis when the twins were babies. I freed my helper up to look after the older ones, cook for us and tidy up the messy house.If you do not have another family member living with you, and if it is financially possible, be open to hiring two helpers for a while to tide through the challenging first two years.If you have a toddler at home, you may also wish to consider sending him or her to a childcare centre before the twins are born. Admitting your toddler to a childcare centre before the babies are born may help mitigate any negative feeling associated to unwantedness. Having multiple babies at home is likely to bring your attention away from the older kid. Yes, I experienced it myself. See my earlier post on the middle child syndrome. Sending the older child to the childcare centre after the babies are home may reinforce their perception that they are not loved by their parents anymore.
Are you hiring a confinement lady? Call them earlier.The good ones are typically taken up by week 12. And it will be helpful if you can get one who has experience in taking care of twins.See my post on What to look for when hiring a confinement lady.
They are unique
Twins are two unique individuals. They may grow up differently. There is no need to insist on them wearing the same clothes or carry out the same activity. They may not even like the same food!My twins are identical twins, but they have different personalities. They have different preferences, and they learn at different paces. #3 picked up verbal skills earlier than #4, while the latter developed her gross motor skills such as crawling, walking and jumping earlier than #3. #3 loves banana, while #4 has no interest in it at all.Although my twins shared one placenta, they react differently to insect bugs. #4 is a lot more sensitive to bites and was almost hospitalised for persistent high fever arising from insect bites. #3 suffered from the bites too, but the allergy subsided soon after.
Sleeping arrangement varies from family to family. It depends on your lifestyles such as the size of your apartment, the help you have and the number of people staying in your home. No matter what arrangement you adopt, finalise them a few weeks’ ahead of a singleton schedule because twins arrive earlier in general.In my case, I am the primary caregiver, day and night. I prefer to keep them in the same room so that I do not have to split myself into two when both babies cry at the same time. I do not have space for one baby to occupy a room anyway. You don’t have to worry about them waking up each other as they grow immune to each other’s cries after a while.Our twins shared a cot until they were four months old and started rolling around. We removed the bed and laid two mattresses on the floor to sleep. It is safe for them to turn all over the beds, and I sleep in between them to provide a barrier to prevent them from knocking into each other.The only downside for me today is that getting them to fall asleep together is difficult. They like to keep each other awake and will try to organise a pyjama party instead.
2 Single Strollers or 1 Double Stroller?
If you have space and budget, get 2 single strollers and a double stroller! If you don’t have the luxury of having so, you need to consider your lifestyle needs. The double stroller can’t go up the escalator, nor navigate a tight supermarket alley. You also need a lot of patience to queue up for an empty lift that fits your double stroller.But what if you are all by yourself and you can’t be pushing two strollers at the same time?!My solution – Use a single stroller and babywear another. I often bring the twins out by myself, so this option works best for me.Before you go straight into a store to buy a baby carrier or google reviews for the best baby carrier, consider speaking to a babywearing educator and try out a few baby carriers. Rent the one you like, try out for a few weeks before you make the purchase.
No matter whether you want to bottle-feed them or nurse them, try to feed both the same time, regardless whether the other twin is hungry. Doing so may reduce the number of times you need to wake up for night feeds. Can you imagine waking up every 1 to 2 hour to feed a baby?
Preventing A Dent in Your Wallet
You will need two times of almost everything, from diapers, clothes to food. If you are a first-time parent, there is a lot to buy.Before you start shopping, consider if you need everything mentioned in the guidebooks. Is that fancy single purpose food processor for baby’s puree indispensable, or can you find something else that has a multipurpose function?Can you accept second-hand items? For example, clothes, fancy diaper bags, cribs, rockers, baby chairs, car seat and prams. These are expensive items, and you need 2 of each (other than diaper bag). You can either buy them at a second-hand store like Carousel, borrow from friends or ask whether your friends and relatives can bless you with their used items.Honestly, I didn’t buy many items for my twins. We received a great deal of hand-me-down from friends and relatives, and I also kept a few pieces of items which my elder daughter used years ago.How about buying in bulk? I am the kind who will buy my diapers* and milk powder in bulk.
Get Support from the Same Community
Join a support group comprising parents with twins or multiples. Parenting twins and multiples is a unique journey. You need to seek advice from the right people to get the right tips.The list above is not exhaustive as it is mostly based on my personal experience. Do you have any unique experience that you to share with the readers? Please feel free to comment in the box below.
Text & Pictures by Melissa Tan
Melissa is a mother of 4 young children (including a pair of twins) who is passionate about nature, outdoor and parenting. She is constantly finding meaningful activities for her children to experience. She also shares their learning journey in school and her experiences supporting their learning at home.
You can find more stuff on parenting at her blog https://www.mychirpylife.com