Are you expecting twins (or more?) and unsure of what to… expect?
At Buddha Belly, we’ve had the honor and pleasure to support dozens of families of multiples with their pregnancies, labors, births and postpartum lives. Here is some insight from our experienced doulas.
You may need more frequent checkups when expecting twins.
You will see your provider often to track your babies’s growth and development, monitor your health and watch for any signs of preterm labor. More ultrasounds or other tests may be needed, especially as your pregnancy progresses.
During pregnancy you may need to gain more weight.
Gaining the right amount of weight supports your babies’ health. Weight gain depends on a number of factors including height, body type, and pre-pregnancy weight. However, most women who are expecting twins are encouraged to gain 35 to 55 pounds. Women carrying twins may gain 4 to 6 pounds during the first trimester and about 1 ½ pound per week during the second and third trimesters. Discuss with your care provider to determine your weight gain goals for your twin pregnancy.
When expecting twins your birth plan is probably going to need to be adjusted.
Having twins means you will deliver in a hospital, at least in Florida. Licensed home birth midwives and birth center midwives are not able to legally attend a multiples birth. Depending on your medical team, you may have more medical interventions than you would prefer, such as pushing in the operating room, induction before reaching your full-term, or cesarean birth if your baby closest to your cervix isn’t in a “heads-down” position.
Breastfeeding may look different, but IS possible.
Perhaps you’ll tandem feed your twin babies. Maybe you’ll feed them at the breast one at a time. You might exclusively pump breast milk and then feed your babies from a bottle. It could be that your babies will be fed a combination of breast milk and formula. Or you’ll feed your babies at the breast using supplemental nursing system. An experienced lactation counselor can help you figure out how to meet your objectives. Remember, HOW you feed your babies doesn’t determine if you’re a good mother.
It really is twice the work.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Until it’s 3am, and one baby has woken the other, and they’re both hungry. They both get fed, then they both spit up. Wardrobe change! And diaper change. Now swaddle, rock and pat until they finally fall asleep. This process may take anywhere from 1-2 hours! An hour later they wake up hungry again. In the very early days, this can easily take two people.
So, ask for and accept help.
This is where a postpartum doula can be a lifesaver for day time or overnight support. We highly recommend asking for and accepting all the help you can get from family, friends and neighbors. A trusted friend spending a couple hours with your babies so can take a nap? Yes please!
Eventually you’ll establish routines and schedules to make your life easier.
A structured and predictable routine helps the whole family function better. Children feel safe when they know what is going to happen and what to expect next. As your babies grow, they will get accustomed to following a routine.
It’s also twice the amount of things!
Expecting twins means two car seats (and a car that accommodates both). A stroller for two. Two baby carriers. Two times the clothes, diapers, blankets, swings, socks, burp cloths… the list goes on and on. For most new parents, that means very little financial wiggle room to discover you don’t LIKE that car seat or stroller or that different brands of diapers work better for each baby (yep, they have different fits and construction from brand to brand.) We recommend minimizing prenatal purchases to the bare necessities and only buying more once the babies are here and you’ve had a chance to discover your true needs.
Connecting with other parents of twins is a must.
Only parents of twins REALLY know what it’s like. Parents can provide a wealth of support to each other by sharing their knowledge and experiences on raising twins. Hard learned lessons and true empathy from your fellow twin parents can be a lifeline. There are great support groups online.
Of course, your experiences may not be exactly the same. From our perspective, life with two babies is an unpredictable adventure in exhaustion, work and love – twice the love, twice the sweet smells on baby heads, twice the gummy, open mouth kisses only a parent could love, twice the snuggles.
Want to learn more about how a birth doula can support you when you are expecting twins? Read our blog A Doula For Twins.