Learning now to ask for help will benefit your health. Get good at it, because it will be necessary for your sanity once the babies are born. Following are some ways to find the help you need.
- Join a mothers-of-multiples club. “Get involved as soon as you know [you’re having multiples],” says Kelly Harp, a mother of a twin boy and girl, age 3 1/2, and a member of her twins club in southwest Denver. “What the twins clubs offer is not just friends but other people who’ve all been through it.”
- Get help. Whether it’s hiring a nanny or cleaning person or even letting a friendly neighbor change a diaper or two, practical support is crucial. “That goes a long way toward keeping things as sane as possible,” says Twins!
- co-author Alan H. Klein, M.D.
- Figure out Dad’s duties. “It’s everything, really, that your partner helps out,” says Leslie Montgomery, a Denver-based multiple-births educator. “Your future together depends on it.”
- Put up a blackboard. Jot down when each child ate, slept and had a diaper change so you don’t have to depend on keeping it all straight in your head.
Don’t give up on breastfeeding
If you’re carrying twins, you may think that it will be difficult to breastfeed, says Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, author of Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More (La Leche League International, 1999). But rest assured that it gets easier once it’s learned. Mother’s milk is better than formula with rare exceptions, adds Gromada. She recommends supplementing with pumped breast milk or formula as needed until you get a good breastfeeding routine going.
Newborns need to nurse as often as every two hours for the first month of life. While most doctors recommend feeding on demand, some parents of multiples swear by schedules, even if it’s as simple as rousing one twin to eat after the other has finished. “When one of them gets up in the middle of the night, we wake up the other,” says Shari Herold, a mother of 8-month-old twin boys in Lincoln. “If I don’t, I barely get to bed after feeding one before the other wakes up and wants to eat.”
Parents need to be flexible, though. Porter, for example, swore by feeding and sleeping schedules until she had her twins — one a champion sleeper and the other a colicky infant who could cry all night. “The schedule thing is great in theory, but if you have two who are so different, it’s impossible in practice,” she says.