Preparing for Multiples
Preparing for one baby can feel overwhelming, so when you multiply that by two, three or even more, you might be wondering where to start and how to plan for the caring of multiple newborns. Fortunately, today you have access to a wealth of information on preparing for multiples—the rate of twin births continues to rise, reaching more than 31 out of every 1,000 live births as of 2021.
When Dr. Jewelia Wagner learned she was expecting twins—who just turned 8—“I prepared with a lot of deep breathing. Mentally, it was initially challenging to grasp the thought of having twins. As my due date got closer, I got more excited to meet Emery and Brittan,” she shared. “We got updated car seats, double strollers, cribs and a very comfortable rocking chair for the babies’ room—we spent a lot of time in that chair! Anything we could find second-hand for clothes, sheets and changing tables, we used. And I made a plan for a constant stream of helpers—my parents, my in-laws and we hired a nanny to come at night when the twins were a month old.”
Dr. Wagner, who also has a 10-year-old daughter Autumn, adds that she had both clinical and familial experience with twins: She is the youngest of three siblings who ALL have a set of spontaneous twins: “Yes, my parents have three sets of grand twins!” She also recommends social media twin groups and support groups and to “find other parents who can relate, listen, guide or share a good cry. It can be challenging but the reward is SO profound!”
Here are some other tips that will help you get ready for multiple bundles of joy:
- Attend a childbirth class—ideally, a class for parents of twins. These classes are a great way to tap into experts on multiples as well as those who are in the same boat. They can provide a support system and education on what you really need and what isn’t that important. It can also help to talk to parents of multiples on what was helpful for them.
- Buy a double stroller. This may be your most important tool in your parenting toolkit—walking can be soothing for babies and provide some needed fresh air for all. You don’t have to buy the most expensive model on the market—just make sure you find the features most important for you (storage space, portability, snack trays, etc.).
- Arrange for help. It truly takes a village when you have multiples. Whether it’s friends and family coming over so you can take a nap and a shower, neighbors putting together a meal train, or babysitters/nanny/postpartum doula, make sure you have support.
- Get ready before the 40-week mark. Multiples often like to arrive early, so make sure you are as ready as can be around 30 weeks, with nursery set up at home, diapers purchased and hospital bag packed. Ask your doctor about typical signs and symptoms to look for as far as labor and delivery and how long you should potentially labor at home.
Finally, if your new babies will have an older sibling, don’t forget to prepare big sister or brother for what is to come. Let them know what it might be like to have more than one baby in the house and how important their role as older sibling is.
When talking with parents who are expecting twins, Dr. Wagner “suggests taking a lot of pictures so you can remember the early dates and scheduling breaks or rotating child care, if possible. Sleep is so essential in the postpartum period and in recovery, even two to three hours can be rejuvenating.”
Dr. Wagner describes raising twins “like living in a revolving door. Just when you get one twin past a hurdle—a growth spurt, cutting teeth, illness—then it’s the other twin’s turn!”