Twins — How to Manage the First Few Weeks
Having twins takes the joy and anxiety of having a baby to a whole new level! The common reaction parents have when finding out they will be having twins is excitement and concern about caring for two babies at once.
If you will be first-time parent of twins, concern and focus will be on their care, feeding and keeping up with their needs. If you are not a first time mom or dad, the concern includes the points above but also concerns increase for the other children in the family.
The good news is that twins are just two babies! While that sounds obvious, we often get ourselves overwhelmed thinking about it. But when the time comes, treating them one at a time and getting to know them individually will ease the worry.
Twins aren’t completely twice the work but they will be twice the fun!
You don’t need every gadget that is out there but whatever items you need for one baby, you will need for your twins. Practical and necessary things include:
- Car seats
- “bouncy” seats or some kind of seats to be able to put the babies down in
- Bassinets – it’s good to have a place for them to sleep on both floors if you have a two level home. It will lessen your trips up and down the stairs initially and you can keep an eye on them more easily.
- Changing table or area on each floor
- Preemie diapers – even if your babies are full-term for twins they are usually smaller – less than 7 lbs. – than the average full-term infant
- Wipes*, one large diaper bag, a dozen swaddling blankets (square, cotton ones work well), sleep sacks if preferred, pacifiers
- nightgowns (help at night to not use snaps in the beginning when diaper changing), 10 – 14 “onesies”, 12 pajamas, 8 – 10 pairs of socks, and bibs.
- Burp cloths – cloth diapers work especially well
- Depending on the time of year – warm, outer outfit for each baby, car seat friendly (some have a hole to snap the car seat buckle through); sun hats if it is Summer
- Typical newborn layette items will do for two babies – lotions, diaper creams, baby bath tub, wash cloths, etc., plus at least two baby towels
Like most things having to do with babies, you’ll have to see what works best for you and your babies. While I was pregnant with my twins, I read that twins like to sleep together.
For my babies, it seemed that they woke each other up, so I had them sleeping separately from very early on. I read that they like to be near each other and as a doula I’ve worked with twins who seemed to like to be near each other, other twins did better sleeping separately.
It didn’t seem to me that my babies were aware of each other until they were a few weeks old at least.
If you are planning on breastfeeding twins, you’ll need to purchase a “twin nursing pillow” specifically made for that purpose.
Newborns are not patient. If they are hungry, they need to be fed. In fact, babies should be fed when they are in “early hunger” stage. A crying newborn in “late hunger” stage and will be harder to latch.
Getting your babies situated to nurse early – every hour and 30 min. or so in the initial weeks – will help them learn to latch calmly. Once they are efficient at it (and you are too!) they will gradually stretch out their feeding time and length of feeding.
Using the pillow allows you to feed them together. Once they are older and feeding well, you can feed them individually if you choose.
The pillow will only be needed for the first 8 – 10 weeks or so, depending on the size of your babies.
What are your needs?
It is vitally important that mom gets rest. You will need to bring in practical support. If your family and friends are offering to help, let them!
People love to be needed. This is a good time in your life to allow others to help you. When family or friends offer, pin them down! “What days or evenings can you be available?” Find out and write down who can come and when.
The new mother’s job for one baby or two is to nurse her baby/babies and rest for a minimum of two weeks. For moms of twins, C-Sects can be more likely. Recovery takes longer for a twin mom – with or without a C-Sect.
Your body has more repairing to do from delivery, your hormones are more elevated and need to readjust back to a non-pregnant range, you have more to adjust to emotionally, and breastfeeding is more challenging.
If you try to focus on more than resting and establishing nursing, you will find yourself in more difficulty than you planned on.
If you find don’t have enough family or friend support, consider hiring a postpartum doula from MothersCare Doula Services. Our doulas are experienced with twins and the needs of their families.
An overnight postpartum doula can allow you to get more sleep at night, support breastfeeding, change and settle the babies (if bottle feeding she will care for the babies exclusively) and provide some helpful suggestions.
Our day doulas can additionally provide practical help for the whole family such as sibling care, laundry, shopping, cooking and cleanup, and light housework. View our frequently asked questions.
Please contact MothersCare or call us at 203-375-5719.
*if using. Newborns can be sensitive to chemicals in the wipes so you may want to use warm water and paper towel or wash cloths until they are a month or two old.
About Susan Shepard
I am the owner/partner of MothersCare Doula Services in CT. I am a Postpartum doula and my business partner, Sheila Marley is a Labor doula. MothersCare places both Labor and Postpartum doulas with CT Families. I am the mom of five beautiful children, one set of twins. The best quote for me as a young mother and the catalyst for MothersCare is “It’s not weakness to know you need help, it’s wisdom.”