So, a slightly different post this time. I’ve had several people come up to me whilst I’m shopping (and even in public toilets!) or DM me about what I could recommend for their expectant twins, so this is a post just for you. I hope it helps.
Firstly, Congratulations! Welcome to the twinny club.
Secondly, Don’t worry. You’ve got this. It’s just the same as having one baby, but having two. You will still need 2000 muslins, an ever growing tuppaware collection and all the usual junk needed for having a singleton.
‘Singleton’, I know it sounded odd to me too, but you will get used to the weird twin terms and the referring to those with one baby as a singleton vs you and your multiple bundles.
So here we go…. My best bits.
1. A Twin Nursing Pillow
I could not have survived a day without this cushion. Fact. It is by far my best ‘twin’ buy and for me, a total musthave for every twin parent.
I used it initially for tandem breast feeding and now for tandem bottle feeding. There is nothing worse than two hungry babies at once and the chaos this brings when your riding solo. It also benefits babies with acid reflux so an extra brucey bonus there too.
My girls used it for tummy time, support when they learnt to sit and now for daytime napping. It is their favourite as much as mine. I paid about £20, but would have paid £200. I know, its THAT good! 10 months on and still I still use it everyday. Best best best best buy.
I know this is a random one, but I love Milton and don’t think I will ever live without it again. Multiple mom’s get them through some serious bottles, and well, serious amounts of everything and sterilizers just don’t cut it. I would have to have 3 of them on the go 24.7 to keep up and a huge surplus of bottles. So instead I use an industrial size tuppaware tub and every morning prepare my cold water solution for EVERYTHING. Bottles, breastpumps, toys, spoons, you name it… it goes in the Milton. Ideal for holidays as well. Oh and Milton wipes when I’m on the go.
Yes, twins are tough! Two babies need Teamwork. There isn’t a “Don’t worry darling, ill feed the baby, you sit and relax” option because there are two babies to feed. Two babies to settle and two babies to carry around everywhere. It’s exhausting. There isn’t a “Just nap when the baby naps” because you still have another baby to look after. If you’re lucky, you might get 30 seconds overlap that they are both napping at the same time. If you are a single parent with twins (and BTW a total superhero) never turn anyone down that offers to help, just take whatever support you can. It’s the logistics sometimes with twins that are stressful. You can’t just take your baby with you to open the front door or pop upstairs, because what do you do with the other baby? The backwards and forwards, the repetitiveness, the up and down, the running in both directions at the same time, I should be a size zero. It’s no surprise that twin parents are at higher risk of divorce, mental illness and post natal depression. Look after each other guys.
Having two of everything takes up soooo much space. I’m not talking house beautiful status but if you’re like me and like your lounge to look like a lounge at the end of the night then opt for anything space savvy.
I love the joie baby bouncers that fold fully flat and the IKEA folding gym mats which make great wipeable playmats, ideal for outdoors and hard floors, and can be hidden easily under the sofa. With normal play mats, I have only found the Tiny Love Large Supermat that is big enough to use for two babies at once.
Buying two of everything is expensive so where I can, I buy on a budget. Obviously I would be insane if I didn’t love the IKEA Highchair. Who doesn’t for £14? Such a bargain, easy to clean and seats the girls lovely. The inserts are £6 each and are great for taking out too when using restaurant high chairs that tend to always be too big. The covers wash great and even remove the toughest spag bol stainage.
If money is no object then the stokke trip trapp Highchair is amazing. At £178 each, buying two can be pricey but they can be used newborn to adulthood so I guess pay for themselves over time. Gosh, its when you say things like that you remember you’ve become old. I love using these in restaurants! They fit right up to the table so it eliminates some of the ‘tray mess’ and would look (almost) a trendy addition to your dining room. They come in so many colours and can be personalised with your child’s name. In summary, these are just too bloody cute.
6. Buy Tiny
So I get asked the most about newborn clothes. “Where did you get your premature clothes from?” “What sizes did you buy?” “How old were they before they were in newborn clothes?” Blah Blah.
During your pregnancy with twins you are more than likely told if you need to plan for an early arrival or if you can expect tiny babies. I imagine all neonatal units are slightly different, but at our local hospital, the girls didn’t even wear clothes for almost 3 weeks so you have plenty of time to do last minute, next day delivery, panic buying and the hospital have clothes you can borrow too. We donated most of our premmie clothes to NICU and I guess lots of parents do the same so there was enough choice.
Mothercare and M&S have great premature clothing ranges. Mothercare starting from 2Ib and M&S from 3Ib. They have velcro fastenings, labels on the outside, flat seams and are easy to jiggle incubator tubes and wires through if staying in NICU. I wouldn’t bother splashing out on these clothes as they will grow out of them quickly and some get lost in hospital so don’t take anything you are sentimentally attached too either. Lots of little hats and cardigans as especially premmies have to stay warm. My girls were almost 4 months old before they got to their newborn sized clothes but then all of a sudden seem to catch up.
I also love lots of ‘mix and match’ combos. If you like to dress your twins the same, then a mix and match is the next best thing when one has just poosploded over everything and trust me you will run out of energy fast for changing them both every time this happens. I like with mix and match sets that it looks like it was the look I was going for all along and I can keep mix and matching during the whole day if we have multiple bodily function projections. I know dressing twins the same is a bit of a taboo topic amongst multiple mums but I don’t care. They are so bloody gorgeous in their matching outfits and my identical girls couldn’t be more opposite in their personalities if they tried. Some strangers (rude strangers) do like to point out to me that I am not letting them express their individuality, but I would be choosing what they wear regardless whether I had one baby or quads. They aren’t old enough to choose their own and besides, its parent perks. Obviously, as they get older and choose their own clothes, then they can wear what they jolly well want too.
7. Gin. Vodka. Wine. Chocolate. All four.
Or, whatever your ‘pick me up’ is, when you are having one of those, I am juggling the whole world, totally exhausted and trying to stay alive and be a great mum kind of day. Now obviously I am not recommending daytime drinking or alcoholism but sometimes the reminder that a pink gin and a bag of m&ms awaits me at bed time is enough to keep me going. And oh, it tastes so much better than it ever has before.
8. Be NICU ready
Sometimes you can’t prepare for NICU but if you know there is a high chance of neonatal care then be as prepared as you can. I’d recommend contacting your local neonatal dept and asking if you can pop for a visit. My consultant arranged this for us and was helpful to know what to expect, check out facilities and ask any questions we had.
When packing your hospital bag I would also prepare an NICU bag and the following might be helpful…
• Keep it small – it will have to go in a locker. Belongings on the ward are really minimal and I couldn’t even take a handbag in with me.
• Snacks and Drinks – you won’t want to venture far from your little bundles so food that is quick and easy. Staying hydrated will really help with milk flow too.
• A pair of bonding squares – These are little cloth squares that go between mum/dad and baby. They will help with bonding and feeding as the baby grows. I used to keep mine between my breasts all day and then put it in the incubator at night and then swap it first thing in the morning. The smell of mum and milk will help comfort your babies when you’re not there and the smell of them comforted me as much especially during the night when I had to come home and helped expressing milk.
• Ask if they have a breast pump you can hire from the hospital – they are much more industrial than the ones you can buy at home and will help get as much milk as possible. You’re expressing for two so anything to help!
• A cool bag and some ice packs – Especially if you have summer babies, you will need to keep your expressed milk cool between your fridge at home and arriving at hospital.
• Although friends and family are worried and want to share their support, all their messages can get exhausting. I used to write one message a day and send it to multiple people. Explain in advance to family that if your babies are in NICU then it isn’t the same as a maternity ward and visiting is much more restricted. During the early days in NICU, visitors couldn’t even hold the girls because of keeping cross infection risks to a minimum.
• Remember cotton wool, Nappies (pampers do a premmie size) and change of clothes.
• Get as much Kangaroo care (skin on skin) as you can. Keep asking the nurses if you can have them out their incubators and they will help move their wires/monitors etc. It’s easy to feel like you’re being a nuisance but they are your babies and want cuddles as much as you do.
• It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. It’s not the start of mum life you dream off and it’s hard. It’s understandable to feel sad that you never got to those final weeks, the baby shower, the straightforward birth and that you are spending the first weeks/months of your precious maternity leave sitting in hospital on your own.
The best bit of premature babies though is you have your tiny newborns for longer and knowing I had 8 extra weeks of tiny little cuddles kept me going.
• Especially with identical twins it can be really difficult to tell them apart. It was easy when we were in hospital as they were always labelled and in the same incubators/cots. When we left hospital I wouldn’t have had a clue who was who as they were always asleeep. We used nail varnish to paint each baby’s little finger with a different colour. We also had some velcro wrist bands made with our babies initials and these went between the car seats, the cots and their ankles just to be extra sure.
• As like all the hard bits of babies every thing is a phase and so is NICU. Although it takes over your life, you will quickly look back and realise what a short time it is and how quickly it passed and your beautiful babies will be home.
I am that mum on a schedule. If one baby wants to nap, then you both have to nap. If one wants to eat, then sorry babes, you both need to eat. It can be hard, as of course, both babies are different but try and sync key times together as much as you can throughout the day to keep your sanity. I’m quite rigid on my schedule and woahhh anybody who tries to mess it up. I imagine not sticking to a schedule with one baby, can drive you crazy. With two, it will break you. Dramatic, but it’s true. Avoid meltdowns where possible.
10. ABC zoom design tandem pram
I love my pram. Yes it’s long but it has so many good points and don’t think it gets the recognition it deserves.
• The girls have sooo much space. I hate it when on some twin prams, one is squeezed under the other and one can barely see daylight. The seats can face inwards, outwards and can face each other which is the cutest when they are mumbling away to one another.
• It is a dream for storage space. I can fit my changing bag, playmat, toys, rucksack, rain cover, a coat, and a few bags of shopping. I have even fit a bumbo under there before.
• It folds tiny. As tiny as a huge twin pram does fold. We don’t have a big car and had just brought a new car when found out I was having twins so was the last thing we wanted to change. Obviously, a few bits have to come off it but we can fit it in our boot (still with the parcel shelf) and still get a few bits on top.
• Yes it’s long. BUT, because it isn’t wide it still fits down narrow street paths, shopping aisles and most importantly, my front door. When the girls fall asleep I can push them straight into my house, whereas the wider side by side prams won’t fit through most doorways and definitely not through a victorian semi.
• The seats have 3 positions. The 1st seats very upright. Sometimes when eating out I find it easier to feed the girls in the pram depending where we are, just for convenience so the first setting is great for that. The 2nd setting is just a nice nosey, comfy walk one and the 3rd is very reclined and perfect for napping.
• Overall a great pram, ignore the online reviews.
There you have it, you lucky mama and papas.
You will multitask like you never thought was possible. Enjoy your babies and all the chaos and love that goes with them.