Without a doubt, every new mother of twins wonders when life will return to normal after having twins. Usually, it’s things as basic as sleep, cook, exercise, enjoy a cup of tea without holding babies…you get the idea. The answer is YES. And it will be sooner than you think.
The early days, weeks, even months of a new baby, especially multiples, is an adjustment and a lot of work. There is new life (or two) that you are responsible to keep alive. These sweet little babies are dependent on you for everything. You have two arms and two babies – which doesn’t leave any room to prepare a snack, cook a meal, wash clothes, do crafts with older siblings, etc. I remember when my twins were a few weeks old thinking, “I’ll never be able to cook a meal again.” It seems like a rather extreme statement looking back but I remember the feeling vividly. You are completely busy taking care of these babies and there are no more arms for other necessary things. If one baby is asleep, then you still have one baby…much easier to sling and still do some kitchen prep but invariably when they both lay down at least one will need you to hold/nurse/soothe again.
There are many ways that friends and family can support and encourage a mom of twins. Offering to give a bottle so you can rest is not one of them. Not only does this undermine the breastfeeding relationship, a mother’s milk supply, and a baby’s willingness to suckle at the breast it gives a mom of twins a lot more work in the long run. Cleaning and sterilizing bottles and mixing formula takes extra time. And if you want to give bottles at the same time there’s no way to also cuddle and hold them – something every human baby needs. So, bottle feeding cannot also double as holding and cuddles. All that to say, though it is hard in the beginning, and though you may wonder if you will ever be able to do X, Y, and Z again…breastfeeding is not the problem. In fact, that might be the saving grace in helping get through those early days when, no matter how you choose to feed your babies, the fact remains you have two new babies (or more) and there is just going to be more work than if it were a singleton.
So what can you do to keep your sanity and take care of these new babies?
- Get a sling
It is normal for newborns to need lots of milk and lots of cuddles. Getting a sling can help as can learning to nurse them lying down together.
- Have Realistic Expectations
Having realistic expectations of what you can do during the first few months is also important. Not only is this not the time to paint your house or try to cook gourmet meals, it may mean sandwiches, nuts, fruit, and pre-cut vegetables are the mainstays of your diet.
- Accept all offers of help
If friends and family offer to bring meal, clean your house, fold your laundry, or even sit with you and change diapers and bring babies to you as they need to nurse – graciously thank them and let them help!
- Babies’ sleep patterns change
Around 6 weeks of age most babies begin to have their longer sleep at night (rather than during the day) and some will sleep up to 6 hours without waking. Being able to get a longer stretch of sleep at night seems to do wonders for being able to take care of babies during the day.
- Babies develop new skills every week. A newborn really can’t do much of anything on his own. But by 6-8 weeks old, babies can smile and begin to play on a play mat with toys above. Now, it may only be for a few minutes, but this is a huge milestone . . . there is now something other than a person who is beginning to entertain/interact for a baby’s attention. By 3 months, play mats and other toys will begin to be even more entertaining and pleasureable for your baby . . . and give you an opportunity to have a cup of tea, take a shower, or do the dishes :).
- Breastfeeding increases parent’s sleep
Research also shows that breastfeeding increases the sleep duration of new parents by an average of 40-45 minutes!1
Each week you will most likely be able to look back and find it was easier than the week before. Though sometimes you will take “two steps forward and one step back,” when you are able to step back and look at the big picture you will find that this is a short time that they need absolutely all of you. Before you know it you really will be able to do these things you wonder if you’ll “ever be able to do again”!