As many of you know, I recently gave birth to fraternal twin girls in February. Also, like many of you, before I had the twins I had no idea about what life is like with twins. I am no expert (mine are still pretty new) but I am answering twin questions from the Newbie Mom Facebook page today on the blog. This is part 1 of 2, because some things are just better in pairs.
How is birth different with twins?
The differences start at the end of the pregnancy, really. Twin moms get weekly or biweekly ultrasounds to measure growth from about 20 weeks until the end of the pregnancy. Measuring your belly doesn’t tell you which baby is growing so an ultrasound is the only way to know for sure.
There are a few main differences between giving birth to twins and to a singleton (what twin parents call one baby). First, your birth is now high risk if you have twins. This means you will be delivering in the hospital with doctors. You will not be having a home water birth. You will also be delivering in the operating room, whether or not you have a c-section, just in case something happens with one or both babies. Since you might need surgery, you will also be given an epidural. (Not really optional, but I was not complaining.) Also, there will be like 5 doctors in the room and 2 paediatricians, as well as every medical resident who wants to see twins born. If you think a lot of people have seen your lady parts with one baby, it is nothing compared to the number who will see you as you try to push two people out of your body.
Most people assume twins are always delivered by c-section, but this is not always the case. It depends on what Baby A (the one closest to the exit) is doing. If they are head down and you have no other complications then it is possible to try for a vaginal birth. This part is very similar to one, except 10-30 minutes later you get to push another baby out. Mine are 10 minutes apart, delivered vaginally.
The only part that can get dangerous is when Baby A comes out, Baby B may decide to take advantage of all their newfound space and rotate upside down. This didn’t happen in my case because everyone filed toward the exit obediently, but it can happen. I lived in fear of Baby B moving upside down and having to endure both a vaginal delivery and a c-section. (Luckily this is quite rare.)
If Baby A is breech, you have high blood pressure, the babies are significantly different sizes or there is a medical issue with one or both babies then you will probably deliver by c-section. (Please note that I am not a doctor! I can however, advise you on classical music theory. No takers? Okay fine.)
How do you feed them without it becoming a 24 hour affair?
No, just kidding. I was lucky enough to get mine to tandem feed. Basically this means that when I breastfeed them, they each get a boob. I feed both at once every 3ish hours. They eat awkwardly staring at each other while trying to guard their milk from the other baby. Sometimes they smack each other or hold hands.
This gets tricky when one baby is awake but the other isn’t. I once let the sleepy baby rest and fed her sister, only to find that I was now feeding babies all day long. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So now my policy is that I have to wake both when one is hungry.
Also, I have a really, really big breastfeeding pillow, so that I can put them on their sides in football hold. Now, I was very lucky that my twins were born at 37 weeks, and had no major problems latching. My supply has also been good. I know many people who, for whatever reason, never get their twins to tandem feed and instead feed both separately and then pump. I have no idea what they do with their other 15 minutes of time before feeding. I hope to never have to find out. Many other twin parents don’t make enough milk to feed two and supplement with formula. (This seems to be the most common scenario that I have seen.) Turns out people aren’t meant to produce milk for a litter of children – who knew?
How do you handle bath time or bedtime?
Well, they don’t have a real bedtime routine yet, because they are only 2 months old. Bath time, like diaper changes, just take longer. You have to do them one at a time, so everything takes forever. Also, everyone is crying and there is a toddler running around here somewhere.
Here is sample bath time:
- Get all bath stuff ready (clothes for 2, towels, washcloths, soap, etc.)
- Fill up bathtub
- Undress one baby. She will cry.
- Put this baby in the bath. She may or may not continue to cry. At this point the other baby may sense that she should also be crying and may join in.
- Take baby 1 out of the bath. Dry her off and get her dressed. Put her down in the bouncy chair.
- Take baby 2 and repeat the process.
- Get ready for bed because this took all day.
Do YOU ever get to nap?
Mostly no. Someone must have told my babies that constant vigilance was needed. I suspect the dog. Anyway, they tend to nap in shifts during the day, presumably to guard the house or keep watch on Mom. Thankfully they sleep at the same time at night.
Sometimes they sleep at the same time, but I usually use that time to eat, shower or do laundry. When you have two babies, you are pretty much always holding someone so time with both hands is rare. Often if I nap it is because I am trapped under one or two sleeping babies and think, “might as well join them.” Because I can’t reach my phone, usually.
Stay tuned for the part 2 twin questions post: the deep questions