Your family and friends’ help is essential when you have baby twins – and the best advice is not to turn down any assistance. If someone makes a vague offer of help, pin them down with a specific job. Useful tasks for others to help out with are:
- Bringing over a home-cooked meal
- Unloading the dishwasher
- Hanging out the washing
- Taking home a bag of washing
- Taking the babies out in the buggy leaving you to rest or spend time with another child
- Help with feeding or at bath time, which can be a stressful time of the day
- Washing and sterilising bottles.
Do not try to entertain your visitors – they are there to help you, so let them make the tea and look after you. Try to do your shopping online – or ask someone to do it for you.
If you have any money to spare, consider hiring a cleaner. It is impossible to do it all with twins and having help to do the mundane tasks can free up valuable time for you to bond with your babies. Just feeding your babies takes time, and having the chance to do this without hurry can mean things can be calmer and smoother.
Deciding when to take time off is a difficult decision. Things to consider include whether to take time off if your babies spend time in hospital, or to save it for even later when they first come home, and whether you want to be able to take some time a few months later. Many twin dads say they needed (and wanted) to be much more involved in the care of their babies than other dads might. Try to store up holiday time so that you can take more time off a month or so after your paternity leave ends. Knowing when the next block of time off will be gives the parent at home a much-needed boost.
The first few weeks of twin motherhood will be possibly the most important, hardest, and happiest of your life. Anything you can do to make that time as valuable as possible is worth it. You will be interacting with a whole host of professionals of one kind or another, and it may seem like you are introducing yourself to a new person every week. This can be a very positive – although daunting – experience leading to renewed friendships, better relationships with relatives, and a whole network of support from professionals like your GP, Midwife, Consultant, and Health Visitor. There are a range of paid-for help options, listed below, some of which do not come cheap. However, many twin parents report that an extra pair of hands in the early days kept them sane, and was worth the financial stretch. Some were lucky enough to be given the services of a cleaner or a maternity nurse by relatives as a gift for a fixed period, which is another option to consider.
A Mother’s Help is usually an unqualified nanny who will work alongside a mother rather than have sole care of the babies. She does a lot of work around the house, such as washing the baby things, sterilising bottles and making up feeds, and making food for you. Find one through an agency or through word of mouth or local forums. Don’t forget to follow references.
A live-in help from overseas aged 18-27 who will also spend some time studying English. She lives as part of the family and will help with domestic duties and childcare in return for a weekly wage and full board and accommodation.
Doulas support women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. Support is practical and emotional but non-medical in nature. They are trained in breastfeeding and counselling, often with other expertise such as reflexology, or as a breastfeeding consultant. Doulas often have specific twin experience. A Doula provides real practical support, she will help to get the household going, put a wash in, cook food and freeze extra, make you have a nap, get rid of visitors, etc., as well as baby-care. This can enable you to be bonding and doing all the important stuff with your babies. A Doula is usually flexible and able to do extra time if necessary. They are accredited by their national organisation, Doula UK www.doula.org.uk.
A breastfeeding counsellor has the most up-to-date knowledge and practical expertise on breastfeeding. She will have specific knowledge on twin breastfeeding. A breastfeeding counsellor will come to your home for a one-to-one visit, offering phone support and further visits as necessary. Many mums have found counselling meant the difference between successful breastfeeding and giving up. A number of breastfeeding organisations provide qualified counsellors on free helplines (see Here to help).
These usually come for a number of weeks postnatal. Their main responsibility is to help to set up a routine, provide baby-care support and advice. A Maternity Nurse will stay for long periods at your house and overnight so that you have a chance to get some sleep, setting up a routine with/for you and your babies. A reputable agency will provide one with experience and references.