Image Credit: kangheungbo
This is a guest article from Delyth Raffell, mother of twin girls and founder of Twins UK, who writes from her own experience about the challenges of having twins, here on how to manage some of the practical issues of looking after twin babies.
The honest answer to the age old sleep question is that there isn’t much when you have twins!
Even though we tried to synchronise the girls’ routine and split the evening/night feeds so each of us could get some sleep there is very little sleep in the first few months . For us this continued for a long time as Ellen really struggled with her eczema and this kept her awake.
We did have the girls in the same room for a couple of months but we soon separated them as Ellen would constantly wake Abbey up and then you had two screaming babies to deal with!
This was probably the most challenging and stressful things to deal with and I didn’t always cope well - there were times when I would just sit in the nursery and cry as I felt I couldn’t carry on anymore.
I read an article from another twins’ mum that said no matter how bad it seemed, you would get through it and you do. But you cannot underestimate just how tired you are going to be and how much this may affect your life, your relationship with both your babies and with those around you.
This is another big challenge - how on earth do you feed two at once ? This will depend on your feelings about breastfeeding or bottle feeding and if your babies are in SCBU.
My personal experience was to express milk for the first few months as my babies were premature and this does give them the best start. I wanted Graham to be involved so expressing was a good option and then later bottle feeding with formula.
However, it is perfectly possible to breastfeed two babies, but you will need support and advice on this. You could choose to feed them separately but I decided I wanted to keep them synchronised and fed both at the same time.
This took a few attempts to find the most comfortable position as I wasn’t aware of the products you can buy to support two babies so I tried all sorts of different ways in the early months.
Weaning is another challenge but I found again, feeding them at the same time using one bowl and spoon was definitely the easiest and quickest solution. Once they start on finger food and feeding themselves, the feeding gets a lot easier although a lot messier too - get rid of carpets and lay wooden floors!
This may sound easy but for any parent with two or more babies this can almost seem an insurmountable task and just not worth the effort.
It took me about 2-3 hours to get organised to leave the house, as there is so much gear you need to pack for twins for even a short day trip. Then you need to get them fed, changed, dressed and into the car/buggy, which is difficult if you are on your own with two babies.
I did manage to get out as soon as they came home and you feel so much better once you’ve done it. I would recommend you take a friend with you if possible, as it’s much easier with two pairs of hands and a lot more fun. However, the upside is that as you are up really early, you are still ready to go by 9am!
What I found was that it is best to re-pack your (large) changing bag every evening so at least you are ready to go and know that you won’t forget essential items like nappies!
Going shopping presented its own challenges. I found that I could only really shop in large shopping centres like the Metro Centre, as they have wide walkways, no doors on the shops and wide aisles. M&S will provide flasks of hot water for you to make up feeds or warm baby food.
Be prepared for your shopping to take twice as long as you imagined as you will get stopped every few steps by inquisitive shoppers who will sometimes ask the most personal questions! I also learnt to ignore ‘no buggy’ signs in surgeries/clinics and would ask for assistance if I needed it.
About the Author: Delyth Raffell is the founder of Twins UK, a website dedicated to families with twins, triplets or more from pregnancy to pre-school. She offers straight-forward advice, their exclusive TwinKits™, unique TwinGifts™ and an extensive range of products to make life with multiples a little easier.