Well, Well – You’re Having Twins!
11 Top Tips On Working With Newborn Twins

“Twins, it can’t be! No one on either side of my husband’s or my family can remember anyone having twins.” I guess my words didn’t matter much because when I heard I was going to give birth to twins, I felt a blessing, as if a special gift had been handed to me. Having twins meant being prepared for their arrival way before birth. I found out that not only did I need to purchase two of everything; I also discovered that I needed to be aware of the best way to parent my newborn twins.

Twins are both mystifying and marvelous. Their lives both enrich and complicate the lives of parents, brothers, sisters, friends and teachers. The birth of twins is due to either the splitting of a single egg, which produces identical twins, or to the fertilization of two separate eggs, which results in non-identical or fraternal twins. I once read the chances of a mother of any race delivering twins increases until her late thirties. The more children she already had, the higher the chances of twins. This was exactly my story. I was 32 years old when I gave birth to my fraternal twins (a boy and a girl) and I had four other smaller children at home awaiting their arrival. I felt very special knowing that my womb was the incubator for two precious souls.

I discovered by reading throughout my pregnancy many tips and techniques that would help me after the birth of my twins. I gave birth to my twins in Japan, without the available advice of my family and stateside friends, so gathering this information was paramount in creating and developing a harmonious household. Parenting would take on a larger dimension for my husband and myself. It was really a new ballgame and I wanted to know as much as I could in order to remain balanced, loving and emotionally attached to all of my children. Here are some of the tips, understandings, and suggestions on the raising of twins:

1. When you discover you will give birth to twins, contact a Twins Club via the Internet or yellow pages and become an active participant of the club. Learn all you can from other parents with twins.

2. Names – what to call your twins? It is suggested that parents choose distinctively different names for their babies instead of same initial names, i.e., Mary and Marion/Sam and Seth. Keep in mind that your twins are individuals from day one and should be thought of and treated as an individual.

3. With identical twins, parents may have a problem telling them apart. In order to correctly identify each twin, use small wristbands with their names on it, or select different color clothing and bedding. Start dressing your twins differently each day so that everyone knows who they are! Also try to remember to call each twin by its given name and not refer to them as “the twins.” This will help greatly in their self-esteem as they get older.

4. Realize that even though you love both your twins, you may in the beginning feel more loving to one twin. Why? Because twins have very distinctive personalities from birth. One baby may appear more placid and the other baby more temperamental. In any case, these feelings seem to pass as your twins spend more time with you.

5. Twins bond pretty early in life. My twins each played a role for each other. If my son dropped his pacifier, my daughter would crawl over and place it in his mouth! If my daughter were looking for something, my son would always find it and hand it to her. My son was more excitable and full of energy. My daughter was quieter and more serene. Twins often continue to show these patterns of behavior during their infancy and beyond. Even though twins identify with each other, they also need to create their own individuality. When you see them become their own person, promote it whole-heartily.

6. Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? Twins will accept either one. I found that nursing twins simultaneously, even though clumsy at first, was the way to go. I would tuck one twin under each arm, supported by pillows. I would rotate the babies, changing breasts for each feeding. The advantages of breastfeeding are, of course, the protection against infection, as well as the nutrients required for your twins’ healthy growth. A family saves both time and money when breastfeeding: a mother has more physical contact while breastfeeding and if you’re feeding your babies by bottle (separately), it inevitably takes twice as long. The advantage of bottle-feeding is that other people around you can share your workload. You can pump your breast milk and have your husband, or older children, feed the babies. This will allow you a rest. Important: Don’t forget to eat several substantial meals a day, as your babies are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding takes nutrients from your bodily system. Join La Leche League and attend their meetings if you decide to breastfeed.

7. Your first year with twins will be hectic and appear at times to be unmanageable. Remember that your first year should be a year of seeking and accepting help. You only have two hands. Isolation will be a part of your day. Your friends may visit you less and less. True, there is not much time for socializing, but remember to take “me” time as often as you. Time to get your nails done, your hair cut, a bubble bath, time for a movie….any time that is away from your babies. Balance is the key to everything and if you’re tired and irritable because of being “mommy” each and every day, you need to allow your husband, family or friends to take over once in awhile.

8. As often as possible, get a good night’s sleep. Being refreshed for your day with your twins is vital for your mental and physical health. Twins don’t necessarily sleep at the same time, but if and when they do, take a cat-nap yourself. When your twins are a couple of months old, run the vacuum cleaner while they are napping. Get them used to noise and then watch them sleep right through it!

9. Create routines for EVERYTHING. Routines need to be created for bathing time, feeding time, sleeping time, clothes washing time, walking outdoors time – any domestic task you do each and every day should have a routine attached to it. It will save you energy and your sanity. Doing the same thing (at the same time) each day will create time for you to breathe and feel whole. Do not become a slave to the moment; instead make a routine that can only be changed by an emergency. Without a routine in place, you will find yourself drained, as you’ll feel yourself being stretched beyond your imagination.

10. Know in advance: Your time spent with each twin will seem unequal. One baby may demand more time either because he/she cries more or takes longer to feed. Do not feel guilty. Every mother of twins knows that this scenario can’t really be changed! If you find yourself resenting the twin who occupies more of your time, re-think this out and decide that you are doing the best you can. A mother with twins will find it very difficult to devote any kind of concentrated attention to one twin without the other twin calling for equal attention. One day, as the twins grow older, you can dedicate yourself to more one-on-one time with each twin in a more equitable fashion.

11. Fathers are vital to the raising of twins. Fathers are not aides or assistants - they are and should be considered an active participant who can supply the individualized attention your twins demand. Work out a system with your husband so that both of you understand who will do what and when for your twins. Fathers are a role model to a boy/girl twin or a boy twin that is invaluable.

Being the mother and father of twins is indeed very special. Parent your twins with joy, patience, perspective and understanding. Discover the personal growth that develops within you as you watch four tiny bright eyes peering up at you as you are feeding your babies. Relax. Be in awe and be aware knowing that your twins are truly a gift and a grace from God.

Copyright © 2005 by Linda Milo and Empowering Parents Now. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Milo, a.k.a., "The Parent-Child Connection Coach" specializes in helping mothers and fathers turn their parenting challenges into a more livable, more workable, and more enjoyable family life. Through her experience as a single parent who has raised six children (including twins), been a nursery school teacher, a teacher for middle school children, and an active member of the PTA, Linda understands the ups and downs of parenthood.

Through her Parent-Child Connection Program, Linda’s clients enjoy a healthier and more trusting relationship, and a strong parent-child bond with their child. Find out more at http://www.empoweringparentsnow.com.