You are so excited! You are expecting and you are headed in for your first ultrasound. The first glance of your baby. Then the ultrasound tech makes a "hmmm" sound and your heart drops. You are worried, scared, when just moments before you were elated. Then the tech says, "do multiples run in your family?"
Surprise! It's twins!
The idea of bringing home multiples can be staggering. Do you really need two of everything? Will they come early? Are they identical, and how will you tell them apart if they are? Once you discover you are having multiples, your prenatal care will likely change. If you are registered with a midwife, your care may be transferred, or plans may be made to transfer you at 28 weeks. If you are scheduled to see an OB, you might be moved to a multiples or high risk prenatal clinic. You will definitely have more appointments, more ultrasounds, and possibly more tests.
But none of that helps you to figure out what to do when you bring two, or more, babies home.
So what are the tips from the experts?
#1: Friends in High Places
These organizations often have clothing and gear swaps and sales, classes for parents of multiples, discounts, and the latest scoop on the best places to go with multiples. It also helps to make friends with other parents who are in the same boat!
#2: Pink and Blue?
Whether your babies are fraternal, identical, same sex, or not, assigning colours will help you to keep things organized, especially in those early and sleep-deprived days. This is especially helpful if one of your babies has extra needs such as additional sterilization procedures, medication, or special formula. Colour coding bottles, pacifiers, and even car seats will mean less questioning, and less adjusting of straps. Nail polish is a great way to colour code items, especially if you want to also paint your little ones' toe-nails to help you remember.
#3: Do They Come With Extra Hands?
Unfortunately, multiples do not come with an extra set of parental hands any more than singletons do. The good news is, the extra help that is offered from friends and family often lasts longer when you are bringing home multiple babies. Take advantage of those offers! And while many of those people will want to hold your babies, do not be afraid to have a list of things you need help with such as dishes, meal preparation, laundry, or pets.
#4: Dinner By Five
Many parents expecting twins, triplets, or more want to know how to get their babies on a schedule. The idea of feeding, burping, changing, and soothing more than one baby can seem daunting. How you feed your babies is up to you. It is possible to exclusively breastfeed multiples, although you should work with your children's doctor to ensure that they are getting enough.
Having an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) you can get in touch with easily can help with this if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed. Many parents however, choose to introduce bottles at some point. If that is the case, you can explore some of the options to make feeding more efficient, such as a twin feeding chair.
Many parents also find that, breast or bottle, getting multiples on a schedule is the most important thing to do. When one baby is ready to eat, wake the other and feed them too. That helps to ensure that your babies are eating on a similar schedule, and you get a break (however short) between feedings.
#5: Seeing Double
You probably don't need to buy double of most of the things that you are looking at. Two car seats and a double stroller are important. And you will need more diapers than you can currently imagine. BUT you likely won't need multiples of swings, bouncy chairs, bumbos, or toys. Instead, look at having one of a variety of different types of toys, chairs, and exercise gyms for your babies. That way they can experience a variety of different types of stimulation, and you don't have to figure out how to fit two large swings and play mats in your living room!
It seems overwhelming now, but it won't take long for you and your babies to get settled. Multiples may be double (or triple) the trouble, but they are also double the love.
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