Every year, thousands of moms bring home more than one newborn — twins, triplets or even more. Life changes for any new parent, but for parents of multiples the changes are — multiplied!
Having more than one new baby at once can be exciting. It’s also extremely demanding. Sometimes just getting through the day can seem impossible.
And multiples often are born early, which increases the risk of complications.
This means you need to spend more of your time at doctor appointments than you would with a single baby.
What are some of the changes that you can expect with multiples? You’ll often be tired because you’ll be getting a lot less sleep, and your household standards will probably have to relax for a few years. If you have other children, the arrival of multiples can trigger more than the usual sibling rivalry.
Multiple babies require an enormous amount of your time and energy, and they attract extra attention from friends, relatives and strangers on the street.
You may have some negative or difficult feelings from time to time. Having less time for each baby can make you feel guilty or sad, and those feelings may become even more pronounced if you already have another child or children. However, the joy and excitement your multiples bring will soon cancel out all of those negative moments.
Getting through the first weeks Here are some tips for dealing with the challenges of caring for multiples:
Recruit help and accept all offers of help. Even though this may be difficult to do, it can make a big difference. Some families hire help, some rely on extended family, and some get help from friends, neighbors, their church or organizations for parents of multiples.
Establish a list of priorities. The list generally focuses on babies’ needs, such as feeding, bathing, sleeping and cuddling. Rest and breaks for you also should be on the list.
Recognize your babies as individuals from the beginning. Select different colored clothing for your babies, which helps you identify each one at a glance. Avoid referring to the babies as “the twins” or “the triplets.” Use their names. Be sure to take pictures of each child separately.
Use charts or checklists. This is helpful for documenting feedings and keeping track of who has been cared for and when.
If you have older children, encourage them to be an active, helpful part of the experience. Ask them to help with the baby chores and tell them how special it will be to be a big sister or big brother. It’s also important to regularly set aside time to spend alone with your other children. Older children may also enjoy time alone with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other family members or friends.
Use disposable diapers or a diaper service unless you have extra household help.
If you use disposable diapers, keep at least a dozen cloth diapers on hand for emergencies.
Gather practical advice, information and support. Feeding, bathing and dressing multiples may require some special strategies. Consider attending a local support group for parents of twins or other multiples. You’ll likely get many invaluable ideas from other parents. Read books and magazines, visit websites and get involved in social media dedicated to advice on parenting multiples.
Don’t neglect your relationship with your partner. Talk to each other about your feelings and problems. Try to give each other breaks when you can, and do what you can to have some time alone as a couple.