When you get the news that you are carrying twins, it can be very exciting, but also very overwhelming especially if these are your first babies. Enlisting friends and family to be available to help after their birth can really help alleviate some of your stress, but that is not always feasible so what else is available for support during this “crazy” time? A postpartum doula could be your answer. She is trained in newborn care and family support that can include everything and anything from infant care to walking the dog!
Multiples present some challenges that a single baby does not. How to feed the babies so you still have time for a shower? How to get more than one baby asleep and still tend to another one that is crying? How to keep up with all the extra laundry and paraphernalia that more than one baby can produce and in the midst of all of this, how to keep you and your partner sane? A Postpartum Doula can provide the answers to these questions and many more. Different from a nanny, the Postpartum Doula strives to work herself out of a job by teaching the parents the most efficient and best ways to deal with their newborns so they are able to move forward and be successful while still getting enough sleep and “me” time.
Having worked with dozens of twin families over 10 years, I have developed some strategies that I share with my multiple clients. First and foremost is organization. I spend time before the birth educating parents on what they will really need and mostly on all the stuff they won’t. Keep it simple and only have the basics so organizing can be much more streamlined. You need safe “landing zones” on each level of your home where the babies and you will be hanging out so when you are the only person there, you can put a baby down in a safe place to be able to deal with the other one that might be having a temporary meltdown. (Holding 2 screaming babies usually does not have a great outcome.) This can be as simple as 2 boppies on the couch or floor. Having a stocked changing station on each level or at each end of the house is also very helpful in saving time and energy. This can be just a changing pad and extra diapers and wipes near the sofa. It’s amazing how many diapers you can go through in the first weeks…up to 10 a day for each baby!! Separating all the baby clothes by size and having only the size you are using handy also saves lot of time. Extra clothes at the changing stations are a must too.
You really don’t need 2 of everything. One swing and one bouncy are enough as you can rotate the babies from one to the other. You do need a place for them to sleep and you can use a pack ‘n’ play for them both. They love being together! Be aware the top of most Pack ‘n’ Plays has a weight limit so know what that is. You won’t need high chairs for at least 6 months so wait on that purchase. Having a good baby carrier, wrap or sling is very important with twins as wearing one baby while holding the other can happen a lot. I like the BOBA wrap but I suggest going to a baby wearing class so you can try them out and pick the one that is most comfortable for you.
After organization, scheduling is critical for twins and multiples. I know, I know, scheduling babies is not always the best, but what I mean by this is that when one twin is awake and ready to eat, it is a good idea to wake and feed the other one as well. Tandem feedings are the best if you can manage that and a doula can show you great ways to do it, but if not, feeding one after the other is good. In the beginning, having them sleep on the same schedule is definitely recommended. As they get older, one may nap longer than the other so that is a great time to get one-on-one time with each baby. Bath time can be a one person job but having help is certainly preferred. Bathe each baby separately in the infant stage and later as they are older and can sit up by themselves, together in the tub is definitely more fun and more time efficient. Organizing for the bath by having everything together in one place is helpful as well.
Bottom line: invest in a Postpartum Doula, even if it is only for a short time. What you will learn from her will definitely be worth it. She will show you ways to organize, how to schedule and tips and tricks so that your life with twins or more will be easier and more pleasant for everyone. Great idea to share with those who want to give you things for the upcoming babies…give the gift of a Postpartum Doula!!