Basics of Multiple Baby Care
At Boba we receive lots of questions about multiple birth and babies. Many parents wonder how it can work with babywearing and other natural parenting methods. When parents find out they are expecting multiples it can be a little scary to consider how it may change parenting choices. ¬†While there are no perfect solutions (except maybe making a clone of yourself?) and things will work differently for every mother, there are definitely products and techniques that will help immensely. Moms *do* have two breasts and two hands so if you’re having twins there is hope for you!
Unless your multiples are a total surprise, you are probably going to stress a little bit about the difference between a singleton and multiple birth. Don’t worry too much because with the right preparation you can have the birth you desire: natural, at home, even unassisted. Read up on complications but try not to worry about them too much, instead learn how to protect against them. ¬†For instance one of the biggest worries is going in to labor early. My midwife told me that the best way to deliver to term is to make sure you are eating enough. Find out how many calories you should be eating and eat lots of snacks throughout the day to get it all in. Pay attention to protein especially. If you’re going to a doctor, research all procedures that will happen during pregnancy and anything that could occur during and after birth. I was very good about keeping informed while pregnant and during birth but after my babies were born I was pressured into using a bilirubin light box for jaundice. My son had the same amount of jaundice and we just took him out in the sun and he processed it perfectly. Somehow in the craziness of twin hospital birth I agreed to it and I’ve always regretted keeping my precious babies in a box for the first few days of their lives! Talking to other moms of multiples and reading birth stories online are a perfect way to prepare for birth.¬†There are also lots of inspiring YouTube videos of multiple births. I love this one in particular of a surprise twin birth!
The mama and midwife are so calm and brave even though they weren’t prepared for multiples. For more info check out my article on having a natural twin birth.
Twins were my second pregnancy and breastfeeding my firstborn was not without issues. The first two weeks were painful but we made it through. I have to say, breastfeeding multiples as a first time mom could be rough. Having lots of support all mapped out before the birth would be an excellent way to prepare in case you run into problems. When working with medical professionals remember to stick to guns and your instincts. If you do not want to supplement, let them know that and make sure you have donor breastmilk ready just in case you absolutely need something. Groups like La Leche League¬†that meet in person are super helpful and a lactation consultant would be great too. There are also lots of Mothers of Multiples groups online and locally. If those don’t work out, a regular old moms group would be nice, especially for first time moms. In my opinion the best product available to make nursing multiples easier is a special huge nursing pillow. I used the Ez 2 Nurse¬†brand. It helps so much with tiny babies that need to be raised to the breast and gives mom her hands back too! I can’t convey how many hours I spent on the couch with my girls nursing while my son and I read books and played. I found that nursing my twins together all the time gave me more time up and about and kept the babies on the same general eating/sleeping/eliminating schedules. It may be more difficult to breastfeed multiples, but it is definitely possible. Bottled breastmilk can be supplemented and there are many ways to get donated milk, such as visiting your local La Leche Leauge. One thing that helped me when I would get frustrated with feeling like all I was doing was nurse and change diapers, was remembering that my girl’s time as babies was so short in the scheme of things and I knew I could make it through the harder early months. Once my twins were more active and responsive things got so much easier. I didn’t feel like I was constantly nursing and we were starting to fall into a good rhythm. Every stage made things smoother. Sitting up, communicating, crawling and standing were all milestones that changed our nursing relationship and each stage was special in its own way. I ended up nursing my twins till they were almost four years old. Probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done!
Babywearing is another area that is changed greatly by having two or more babies. Luckily there are solutions that can work to keep your babies close and happy. If you have any friends with infants it would be great to prepare while pregnant by trying on some carriers to see how they feel and get some practice. My favorite carrier for infants is a stretchy wrap like the Boba Wrap. Wrap style carriers are comfortable and ergonomic for baby and mother. After using ring slings when my twins were newborns I could not believe how I could barely feel the wrap on my shoulders. The fetal tuck position that is used with wraps is important for proper infant growth and development and is the familiar snug position from the womb. With a baby over each breast in an upright position twins will feel safe close to their mothers and can easily nurse while in the carrier. A mothers body is designed to regulate the temperate of each breast separately. When twins are worn in a wrap together, a mothers body will change the temperature of each breast in response to each baby. Now that’s some proof that babies are meant to be worn! Twins will grow out of being worn together in one carrier together pretty quick. At this point many moms begin using two carriers at the same time. When my girls were little I didn’t have the Boba carrier, I used a metal frame backpack and sometimes other soft structured carriers on my back with a wrap in the front. Recently I’ve seen moms with two Boba Carriers, one in the front and one on the back. I’ve also seen moms online using two rings slings, one on each side but that never felt comfortable or practical enough to me. I won’t lie, babywearing twins doesn’t always work well for getting things done around the house. Moving quickly and bending over are harder with two babies especially if they are fussy or wanting to nurse. As my babies got older I would try to wear one at a time on my back while doing chores and switch between who got worn and who got to sit in a play seat with toys or being entertained by a sibling. Another big help of course is having a partner or friend wear the happiest baby while mom helps whoever is upset or needs to nurse. Babywearing multiples is very much a skill to be learned so experimenting until you figure out what works for you is the way to go. As always there are so many wonderful resources online like YouTube, babywearing forums, and websites.
Sleep is always a delicate subject with moms, we *all* want and probably need more sleep. Co-sleeping¬†or family bed sharing is a common sleep solution for attachment parenting families. Co-sleeping is a great way to meet babies needs and get more sleep. There is a lot of research showing that safe co-sleeping lowers the risk of SIDS, supports breastfeeding and mother/baby bonding, and helps everyone get more sleep. With multiples I’d say co-sleeping is kind of necessary. I don’t believe in sleep-training¬†and I can’t imagine getting up every time each baby woke. I slept with a twin on each side of me and rolled over when one woke. If they both wanted to nurse I would lay on my back and cradle one on each arm. When they were infants I used my Boppy at night and defiantly fell asleep sitting up sometimes. As I’ve said it will all get easier as they grow, the same goes for night care. Eventually they will sleep more, nurse less, and be bigger and easier to maneuver in bed. Just remember they will only be babies once and that you can get through this short time in their lives! Parenting multiples is an amazing blessing that not every person can experience. I never thought I wanted twins but looking back through the last seven years it has been such a unique and awesome experience. I would do it all over again even though I was sleep deprived for at least the first three years! Now I look forward to watching my girls grow together and continue being the sweetest best friends and sisters ever.