First and foremost, accept help.
People will offer their help, so start practicing now, saying, “Yes, that would be lovely.” Some people will make specific offers, like setting up a meal calendar for you or offering to come spend time with the babies each week so you can catch up on much-needed rest. But other people will simply make themselves available, and it will be your job to tell them what you need. This can be uncomfortable for some people (many of my clients) who are used to being self-sufficient. Now is not the time to try to be a lone ranger. Have a list of needs taped to your refrigerator or up on a note board easily in view that friends and family can sign up to do. For instance, your list might have on it: fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, pick up groceries, vacuum, or simply be an extra pair of hands.
For the second tip, we’ll go back to the meal calendar idea.
You may be familiar with the various ways friends and family provide meals to families in need. As new parents of twins, you are indeed a family in need of some home-cooked meals that you don’t have to cook yourself. Though it’s a good idea during your pregnancy to prepare and freeze some of your favorite meals ahead of time, there is something about the meals that others will cook for you that tastes divine! Some of the meals we received after our children were born became our favorite go-to recipes later on. There are several online sign-up calendars that make it really easy for everyone using it, including a way for the recipient to list any food allergies or dislikes. And since most people will send enough food for leftovers, you won’t need meals delivered every day.
For the meals, you will prepare and freeze ahead of time; think of things that can be defrosted quickly and can be eaten with one hand. (Yes, there may be times that you’re holding a baby while also eating your dinner.) Quiches and casseroles fit in this category nicely, as do hearty soups. (But please, don’t eat hot soup while holding a baby.) Your final days of pregnancy, when your body may be easily fatigued, is a great time to begin taking advantage of online grocery shopping. Most grocery stores offer online shopping; all you have to do is drive into the pick-up lane for store employees to bring them out and load them into the car for you. Again, consider enlisting a family member to do this simple but important task for you.
The third tip is to learn early on how to feed your babies at the same time.
This may mean waking up one of the babies in order to keep them on the same schedule, which will make your life much easier in the long run. I’m delighted to say that most of my twin moms breastfeed their babies, and yes, you can do it, too. Start preparing now. Take a breastfeeding class. Then find a pediatrician you like who has a lactation consultant on staff. A postpartum doula with experience working with mothers of twins can show you logistically how to set things up to feed your babies simultaneously. Again, take advantage of dad and grandma, friends, or your doula while you’re perfecting your and your babies’ skills.
The fourth tip is to practice self-care every day.
That means showering, eating, and brushing your teeth. It may sound silly now, but it’s astonishing how many parents – primarily mothers – end up not fitting this into their day, which means they are not taking care of themselves. This is an ideal time to learn about balance and that you matter, too. One of my twin moms advises taking time to enjoy the shower and chew your food. The best plan is to shower first thing in the morning. If you’re home alone, put your well-fed, snugly-swaddled babies in their crib while you shower. Then enlist friends or family to come at mealtimes to entertain the babies while both parents get time to eat together and catch up on conversation. I consider nurturing the relationship with your partner to be an important part of self-care, and you will, indeed, need each other’s love and support during this amazing journey together.
Finally, learn to wear your babies.
I’m talking about slings, wraps, and other carriers. Not only does baby-wearing offer wonderful benefits to your babies (especially if they come early, in which case you’ll want to learn about kangaroo care), but it frees up your hands to allow you to do other things. Please don’t misunderstand my intention – I don’t want you to do too much too soon. But wearing your babies will allow you to get to some of the critical things done that you need to do. There are so many wonderful products on the market to choose from. I have some personal favorites, but go on some forums of parents of multiples and find out what others have liked. You might have to try a few to find the one that suits you best, so save receipts and packaging for easy returns. Also, some people find baby-wearing has a learning curve, so get help. There are baby-wearing meetup groups in most areas that will help parents learn to use different carriers. A good postpartum doula can help also.
You will become a part of an exclusive club when you become parents of twins. Being prepared will help you enter this new part of your life smoothly and confidently.