I’ve just had the most amazing dream!
But if you’ve never had anything to do with twins other than knowing they exist, then your reaction is likely to be very different. Once you’ve recovered from the initial shock of finding out you’re having twins, your practical side will emerge. Exactly when this happens is highly individual.
It’s never too early to start planning for managing two babies and it’s worth remembering that less than 50% of twin pregnancies extend beyond 38 weeks. Prematurity is common when having twins and many couples aim to be organized from around 30 weeks. Similarly, pregnancy complications are more common, so being organized and doing some planning is important. Don’t leave everything to the third trimester because you’re likely to find yourself running out of time and getting stressed out.
Practical considerations when having twins
- Housing – number of rooms, bathroom access, yard, living space and storage. Children may be small, but their “stuff” takes up a lot of room.
- If you are considering renovating your home to accommodate your bigger family, be aware that any renovation ALWAYS takes longer than predicted and costs more than you think it will. Do you really need this extra stress when you are pregnant with twins or is moving house a preferable option? Only you and your partner can know what’s right for you.
- Your neighborhood – is it child friendly, are there other families to connect with and is it safe?
- Consider how you are going to feed your twins. Check Breastfeeding USA’s recommendations for joining a local breastfeeding group and tips for success. Speak with your maternity care provider about what you can do to prepare your body and your mind for breastfeeding twins.
- Every time you do the grocery shopping, buy at least one thing to set up the nursery. Toiletries, diapers, wipes, and baby bath products can all be stockpiled through your pregnancy to minimize additional financial pressure when they’re born.
- Cook meals and freeze them for when you’re short on time after the twins are born.
- Nursery furniture – research your options such as buying new or second-hand, doing deals for buying double of everything. Check online marketplaces and furniture rentals. You will be amazed at how generous other parents can be in lending their baby equipment so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Join the multiple birth club or association in your area (see Multiples of America) They often have baby furniture rental or lending schemes.
- Explore access to community resources such as doctors, child health clinics, schools, parks. If you must, could you walk to the shops/health care, etc.?
- Make a list of support people who you can call on for help. Get their contact numbers and availability so that you don’t ever feel you need to care for the babies all by yourself.
- Check with your employer to see what parental leave you may be entitled to.
- Car size – many families need to size up when it comes to accommodating twins, especially if they already have older children. Also check on car seats and consider spending more on the long-term options. You will have more time when you are pregnant to research this than when you have two babies to care for.
- If you are not a naturally organized person, then learn how to be. Go to a store which specializes in storage and organization. Try to get into the habit of tracking important dates, medical appointments, and reminders somewhere convenient for you. The secret to managing twins is routine and if you’re a bit chaotic this won’t help. Ask one of your more organized friends for tips; they’re sure to love sharing their ideas with you.
- Talk with your older children about the twins, how much they will be able to help you and let them know they are special too. Try to spend some special time with them each day.
- Pack your hospital bag nice and early. Not having to think about this and ticking it off your “to do list” will free your mind for other necessities.
- Go away for a few days with your partner before the twins are born. Have some couple time and focus on what you both need to do to stay strong and united. The early days of caring for one new baby can be very demanding, but this is especially the case with twins.
But I don’t feel excited about having twins – am I a bad parent?
No matter how many times you hear “you’ll be alright… you’ll cope”, you could still find yourself ruminating with worry. Building anxiety creates feelings of stress which then impacts on the ability to sleep and enjoy everyday life. If you or your partner feel this way, it is important that you seek mental health support. Start with your provider who can speak to you about referral to a psychologist. Recognizing how you feel and acknowledging it is the first step to feeling better.
Having twins is a joy, but it is also made easier by some planning and organization!
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.