Parents who are expecting or already have multiples – it is pretty likely you never thought you’d be in this situation. Did you know that the rate of multiple births worldwide is only 3.5 per 1000 births?!
That being said, the rate of multiples has nearly doubled in the last 40 years. Some of this is due to assisted reproductive technologies like IVF. Some of it is because the chances of having multiples increase significantly with age, and many families are waiting later to start their families.
Multiples – which is having two or more babies at the same time can be exciting, nerve-wracking and very scary. You have different challenges than friends and families who only have singletons. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to consider.
Let’s break down exactly what to plan for and what to prioritize when caring for your multiples – because the first thing you need to accept is that you will not be able to do everything, and your life is about to be changed forever.
The first thing we want to focus on – is managing expectations.
You will not be able to keep your house as immaculate as it is now.
You will not be able to make gourmet meals every day.
All of your laundries will not be clean, dry, folded and put away nicely every day.
Leaving your home will not be as easy as just spontaneously getting in the car and grabbing a few grocery items.
You will not be as available to your partner.
You will not be able to binge-watch a trending Netflix series.
That hobby you love? Likely going to be abandoned for a while
The 4th trimester (first 12 weeks) can be especially challenging. Take the time to make a solid postpartum plan about how you will deal with the extra challenges.
- Lack of sleep with two babies who may not be on the same schedule
- Buying two or more of everything at the same time
- Sometimes one parent has to take a leave from work for an extended period to care for the babies
- Feeding multiples either by bottle or breast is always very challenging
- Comforting two babies at the same time can be near impossible with one parent
- Leaving the house and leaving your partner to care for two babies at the same time can make you feel guilty or like an impossible task
- Cooking for yourselves while having 2 newborns can be daunting
- Marriage or relationship strain with families of multiples is common
- Childcare for multiples is often difficult to arrange and usually very expensive
These are just some of the challenges you are likely going to face.
So planning your priorities is what needs to be part of that postpartum plan. One newborn is hard enough. When we have more than one, we need support.
- Make plans with family and friends who can support you, and be specific about what they can support you with. Food, laundry, comforting the newborns, childcare while you get some rest etc.
- Join a support group for parents with multiples. Canada has a great national organization with resources – Multiple Births Canada. The United States has Multiples of America that can connect you with your local chapter. Being able to connect with others that have multiples is key to your success and not feeling isolated, unheard and connected to others experiencing the same challenges.
- If you want to breastfeed your multiples, connect with a breastfeeding specialist right away. Exclusive breastfeeding of multiples is very challenging and support is critical to this being successful.
- Remember you have to take care of yourself through this process. You need to try and get at least 4 hours of sleep in a row. You need to eat properly. You need to drink enough water. You need to get outside and exercise. If you are not taking care of yourself, the work involved in caring for multiple newborns is staggering. Talk to your doctor if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
- Get into a routine with the babies as soon as you get home. Try to get them feeding on the same schedule. Try to get them to sleep on the same schedule. Create routines to bring structure to your day.
- Anticipate needing to hold two newborns often. Invest in yoga balls to bounce on and infant carriers.
- Do not isolate yourself – touch base with families and friends often, and if you’re struggling – TELL THEM. No one is a mind reader and often parents of multiples feel an incredible amount of isolation and can feel like no one understands what they’re going through.
Support is critical to managing the hectic newborn stage with multiples. Be kind to yourself and plan ahead on how you can make this exciting transition into parenthood the least stressful you can. If you are currently expecting multiples reach out to your local mama coach to find out what postpartum support might work for you and your family. We can support you to help build those routines and make sure sleep and feeding are going well to make you feel confident in taking care of your babies. We support families with multiples, we don’t charge double for twins! Check out our newborn support packages here.