Twin Essentials: What You Really Need to Know if You're Expecting Twins!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Twins – Experience from a Twin Mommy!

Thanks to the help of some of my twin mom friends we’ve brainstormed this list “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Twins”. It’s all of the advice and “what to buy tips” that we wish we had known before our precious babies arrived. We hope some of it will prove useful to you!

What You Need to Think About Before the Babies Arrive

Make Some Key Decisions

Agree what will happen if one or both of the babies needs to go to the NICU, i.e. will hubby go with the babies or stay with you.
Decide whether you want to try a vaginal delivery or have an elective caesarean, but if you go for the former read up on the latter so you know what to expect should you need to have a section.

[And just a personal note from me; I opted for a natural birth mainly because I’m terrified of hospitals and operations but after 24 hours in labour I ended up having a c-section, and to be honest it really wasn’t that bad after all!]

Write a birth plan and tuck it inside your hospital maternity book so that you don’t forget it. Include your decisions on whether you are happy for an assisted delivery or a blood transfusion, if you consent to vitamin K injections for the babies and whether you want to breastfeed.

Make Life Easier for Yourself

Hire a cleaner. Towards the end of your pregnancy you will be too big to do any cleaning, and when the babies arrive you just won’t have time for the first few months.

Do your shopping online. It saves time and money and you don’t have to heave your bump around a busy supermarket, or later on work out the logistics of getting two babies into a cart and keeping them happy while you shop.

Look for a starter voucher in the Bounty packs or Pregnancy magazines, which give you money off your first order. In the UK My Supermarket is the best way to shop online as you can see which items are cheapest/on special offer and which store to buy them from.

Stock Up On Sleep

Once you’re on maternity leave get as much rest and sleep as you can, as the weeks go by and you get bigger and bigger sleep will become harder (especially as you might need your hubby to help you turn over in bed!).

When those babies arrive sleep will become the thing you crave the most so stock up on it while you can!

Your Hospital Bag

Check what size bag your maternity unit will let you bring, because some will have restrictions based on space.

We had to pack a small “go bag” with essentials for delivery and then a larger bag with items for a hospital stay just in case we had one, the larger bag stayed in the car until we were moved to the ward.
Skip Hop Baby Pronto Portable Changing Station with Cushioned Changing Mat and Wipes Case, 3 Pockets, ChevronSkip Hop Baby Pronto Portable Changing Station with Cushioned Changing Mat and Wipes Case, 3 Pockets, Chevron

Pack a portable changing mat in your hospital bag because the hospital won’t provide one.

Throw in an alarm clock or remember your phone charger. If you do have to stay in hospital you will need to have an alarm to remind you of feed times during the day and possibly the night. If the hospital says no chargers take one anyway, the formal rules are usually usurped by informal ones set by the midwives!

Buy yourself a new toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste and put it in your hospital bag, you might need to go into hospital quickly and the last thing you will be thinking about is remembering to pack your toothbrush!

Check out the cost of a weekly parking ticket at the hospital and make sure you have enough change to buy one; a week’s ticket is often cheaper than a day and once you are admitted you don’t know how long it will take for the babies to arrive especially if you are being induced. Put the change in your go bag or in the car so it’s ready. And while you do that you might want to add some more coins to cover the cost of parking for scan appointments and random trips to the Day Assessment Unit in case you have any complications along the way.

Read Up On How To Be a Mommy (and Daddy!)

Read a few books to get a feel for what life will like when your babies are home; how to feed them, bathe them, get them to sleep etc.

Good books to try are Gina Ford’s Contented House with Twins and the Baby Whisperer.

But don’t expect your babies to follow the text books – just follow their lead and don’t worry too much if they’re differing from the ‘norm’ – you’ll find your own rhythm.

A Contented House with TwinsA Contented House with TwinsSecrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your BabySecrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby

&

Stock Up On Baby Freebies

You’ll be surprised at how many things companies will give you for free when you’re expecting one baby, let alone two.

Check out our list of baby freebies.

Think About How You Will Feed Your Babies

Decide whether you will breastfeed, express feed or formula feed your babies, and then be prepared to do something completely different.

If you plan to breastfeed then read up on how to get the babies to latch on, comfortable positions, what to eat etc. And then read all about formula and how to sterilise bottles and make up powdered milk.

It is possible to breastfeed twins, but sometimes you may not be able to make enough milk, or your babies may just prefer a bottle. You will always hear that breast is best, but sometimes it’s not best for you or your babies so don’t feel bullied if you need to, or want to do something different.

[I was all set on exclusively breastfeeding but my babies had blood sugar issues and needed formula top ups in the hospital, then Master J lost a lot of weight and we needed to feed him up before we could go home so we did a mix of breast and formula for both babies.]

It is perfectly possible for a baby to breastfeed, formula feed and use a pacifier if you introduce them in the early days. Nipple confusion is an old wives tale!
Playtex BPA Free Premium Nurser Bottles with Drop In Liners 3 Count, 8 OuncePlaytex BPA Free Premium Nurser Bottles with Drop In Liners 3 Count, 8 Ounce

Decide which formula you will use and buy some ready-made bottles from the supermarket. If you arrive home from the hospital and the babies are hungry you need to be able to feed them straight away.

Also while you are finding your feet it is so much easier to just grab a bottle of ready-made formula rather than finding time to make up bottles of milk from powder.

[We were discharged at about 7pm and by the time we got home the babies were crying with hunger and needed a formula top up, luckily my mum had stocked up on ready-made formula that day!]

We tried lots of different bottles but eventually discovered these clever bottles which use a drop in liner so we didn’t have to mess about with sterilising.
Related read: Breastfeeding: What I wish my friends had told me

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What to Buy When You’re Expecting Twins

Whatever you buy, look for ‘preloved’ items in charity shops (Thrift Stores), Facebook groups and local baby markets. Most second-hand clothes are as good as new because babies grow out of them so quickly.

Babygros and vests are perfect for the early days, they’re easy to put on and off and make it easy to change diapers. They’re also easier to wash and can be tumble-dried, and most importantly they don’t need ironing! Clothes may look cute but they’re a pain and make everything take longer.

If you are having a boy and a girl buy unisex vests and babygros, that way you only need to pack one colour in your changing bag for when you’re out and about. If you have one baby that goes through more clothes than the other you don’t need to worry about dressing your boy in pink if that’s all you have that is clean!

100% Cotton Baby Handkerchief 30pcs100% Cotton Baby Handkerchief 30pcs

Buy white muslin squares, and lots of them! You will get through about 50-60 basic white ones, look for them on Amazon or eBay, you don’t need the expensive sort from the big baby stores. You need white ones as you can then throw them in the wash and not have to worry about colours running. You’ll be surprised what you can use a muslin for, covering up while breastfeeding in public, protecting your clothes from spit up during/after a feed, cleaning up the baby, wiping snotty noses etc… They also make great comfort blankets; cut one into four with a pair of pinking shears and they’re the right size for snuggling with, and you can keep washing and rotating them so it’s not the end of the world if one goes missing.

Nora's Nursery Baby Cloth Pocket Diapers (7 Pack) with 7 Bamboo Inserts and 1 Wet BagNora’s Nursery Baby Cloth Pocket Diapers (7 Pack) with 7 Bamboo Inserts and 1 Wet Bag

Consider cloth diapers, they are perfectly manageable with twins and will save you a lot of money. And of course they’re so much cuter than disposables! You need to buy enough to do a daily wash (about 40, i.e. 20 to use in the day and 20 in the wash/drying) and once the babies are in bed just throw them in the washing machine.

Wet bags are a must for storing dirty diapers or wet clothes when you’re out and about.
If you decide to use dummies (pacifiers) then buy a couple of sleepy tot dummy bunnies from Amazon, when the babies are old enough to have comforters at night they are brilliant for avoiding stray dummy wake ups as the baby can find the bunny in their cot.

Invest in a “Koo-di Fridge to Go” large cool bag (or two). They keep milk fridge cold for 8 hours so are perfect for taking feeds out in the day and for taking up to bed at night.

A plastic 5-litre box and a packet of milton tablets equals a cold water steriliser. Just replace the water and the tablet every 24 hours.

When it comes to weaning time buy the basic white highchair from Ikea, it’s cheap and you can literally hose it down!

Baby Jogger 2016 City Mini Double Stroller - Black/GrayBaby Jogger 2016 City Mini Double Stroller – Black/Gray

The jury is split on strollers, if you have the budget then a Bugaboo Donkey Duo is a great investment, alternatively other twin moms (including me) love the Baby Jogger City Mini.

What Not to Buy When You’re Expecting Twins

Twin nursing pillows are a waste of money. Order a v shaped soft pillow instead, in fact buy two! As well as using them for nursing they are great for supporting your bump in bed towards the end of your pregnancy, and when the kids are old enough to sit up you can put a pillow behind them in case they topple backwards.

Don’t bother with expensive sterilising equipment – see above.

Don’t buy too many clothes in larger sizes, babies don’t necessarily fit into clothes at the ‘right’ age and you may end up with clothes that fit them in the wrong season.
If you have a girl (or two) then dresses can be worn as tops when they get bigger, and dresses in ‘younger’ sizes are often better for them when they start to crawl – so they don’t get tangled up in a long skirt.

Don’t bother with shop-bought dribble bibs, they get wet through too quickly and they’re over priced. If you have a baby that dribbles, and not all do, buy some microfibre dishcloths and a packet of poppers, fold the dishcloths into triangles and sew on the poppers. They come in all sorts of funky colours and they last for hours!

Avoid any highchair that doesn’t let you remove the straps or the cover to wash it.

Tips for Twin Labour

When your waters break those maternity pads you bought will come in handy, because your waters will keep on coming until the babies arrive!

Have hubby be your spokesperson and make sure your wishes are followed, but also that he asks lots of questions.
Be prepared for the birth to not go the way you had planned, if you go with the flow it should be less stressful.

Related read: My twin birth story

What to Think About After Your Babies are Born

Be prepared for a hospital stay even if your babies arrive on their due date.

[I developed pre-eclampsia during delivery so was admitted so they could monitor my blood pressure, just as they were about to release me a few days later Master J started losing weight so we had to stay in for a few more days to try and fatten him back up again!]
If you do have to stay in hospital make sure you ask questions of the midwives. For example, in the UK they are not allowed to talk to you about formula feeding unless you ask them first.

If you do breastfeed either or both babies be prepared for them to lose weight in the early days. This will either prolong your stay in hospital, or cause you to be readmitted. Stay calm and feed the babies regularly to help them regain the weight. If they are struggling with their feeds you can ask for a feeding tube to be fitted to give them an energy boost and get them back on track.

[Master J lost so much weight they wanted me to feed him an insane amount at each feed, more than his tummy could actually hold so it just made him sick. Eventually I asked for a feeding tube and after just one feed he was strong enough to drink from a bottle. Now he’s nearly one, eating like a horse and tipping the scales at 24 pounds-ish so it did him no harm.]

Related read: Breastfeeding: What I wish my friends had told me

Tips for the First Days at Home with Twins

Feeding your babies

Whatever you decided about breastfeeding v bottle feeding before the babies arrived be prepared to breastfeed one and bottle feed the other or bottle feed both and do not feel guilty if this happens. You need to do what is right for you and your babies.

[After 9 weeks it became clear that Master J preferred a bottle to the breast and as there just weren’t enough hours in the day to feed two babies and express milk I just switched him to formula and he never looked back. Miss E on the other hand preferred the breast, and I fed her that way until she was six months old, when I had to stop for health reasons (mine not hers).]

If you do decide to breastfeed you need to take a post natal/breastfeeding vitamin supplement to ensure your babies get the nutrients they need without stealing them from you.

Healthy snacks delivered to your door!Healthy snacks delivered to your door!Claim Your Free Box
Breastfeeding is hungry and thirsty work, keep healthy snacks and lots of water in all the places you will be breastfeeding, even at night-time. Invest in a sports bottle so you don’t have to worry about knocking over a glass of water in he middle of the night!

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If you do decide to formula feed your babies then make sure you prepare the feed with cool boiled water. If you are leaving the house and will need to feed while you’re out you should not carry cold boiled water and use it to mix the powder for a feed. The water needs to be hot to kill the bugs. This information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is useful as it explains how to store milk for longer periods: Formula Guidance from the WHO

If you formula feed then before you rush to warm the bottle see if the baby will drink it cold.

[Master J liked his milk best ice-cold from the fridge which made it so much easier when we were out and about as I just took the bottle from the cool bag and fed him!]

It is possible to combination feed, i.e. you can give both babies a bottle of formula at bed time when you might be most tired, or you could alternate and breast feed one baby while the other has a bottle and vice versa throughout the day. Your body will make the milk it needs to feed your babies as long as you follow a consistent pattern.
Be prepared for feeds to take 40 minutes or more. In the early weeks you’ll feel like all you do is feed babies, wind babies, change nappies and then start all over again!

Night-times

It is entirely up to you whether you feed each baby as and when they wake at night, or whether you wake the other one and feed them together. One baby might only want one feed at night while the other may want two or three. The mums I surveyed on this one were split so there is no right or wrong way!

Only change nappies (Diaper) at night if they are dirty! Seriously, a wet nappy will not bother a baby and will do them no harm in the night. If you are worried about rashes smother their bottom with a barrier cream like Bepanthen. By the way that cream is amazing and is great for bottom rashes, sunburn, scrapes and bruises!

Routines

Try and implement a routine so that everyone knows when the babies need to be fed/entertained/asleep. It will be loose at first but as the babies get older nap times will become precious to you so it’s good to try and get them to sleep at the same time in the day.

The timings in Gina Ford’s Contented Baby book is useful to follow, or the Baby Whisperer E.A.S.Y routine.

Get as Much Sleep as You Can

Sleep while the babies sleep! You will be surprised at how well you will be able to function on very little sleep, but you need to try and catch up whenever you can. In the early days you will develop a magical ability to fall asleep anywhere in an instant, so have a nap in the early evening while hubby watches the babies to give you energy for the night feeds. The ‘magic’ wears off after 2-3 months.

Getting Others to Help Out

Make a list of tasks that need to be done every day – such as wash the bottles, sterilise the bottles, make the formula, fill/empty the dishwasher, empty the diaper pail, put the washing on/hang the washing out, feed the dog/cat etc. Pin this up in the kitchen and when anyone comes to visit and asks if they can help point them to the list.

Accept any offers of help and if no one offers ask for it! In the early days let other people look after the house while you look after your babies. And once they’ve finished the chores have them watch the babies so you can sleep!

Getting Out and About

If you want to go out with the babies allow at least 45 minutes to an hour to actually leave the house.

While you are out and about be prepared for everything to take longer as you will suddenly become a magnet for other people (mainly old ladies) who have twins in the family and want to stop and coo at yours.

Also be prepared for people to ask “are they twins” then “are they boys?” or “are they girls?” even if they are wearing the correct gender colours!

Write a list of what needs to be in your changing bag and make sure you restock it every night.
Keep a spare changing bag in the car.

Take the babies along to your local twins group, and join your local post natal group/baby club. Befriending other twin mums is great because you are all in the same boat, but befriending mums of singletons is also great, especially as they think twin mums walk on water so you’ll always come home with your confidence boosted!

Coping with Crying Babies

Coping with a crying baby is really hard on your emotions, especially when you are tired. Work through the steps: wet/dirty nappy, hunger, need to sleep, pain then if all else fails take them out for a walk in the buggy (fresh air will calm and help them sleep) for a ride in the car (ditto) or call a friend and ask them to come and keep you company.

Sometimes a change of scenery or a different face to look at works a charm for a baby who’s just plain grumpy or bored!

[We wish we’d known this when one day both babies kept us up all night then screamed all day, by 6pm I admitted defeat and called my parents. As soon as they stepped through the door both babies stopped crying and we were both able to go and sleep while mum took over. Lesson learned – it is not admitting defeat if you ask for help!]

Never Feel Guilty

Never feel guilty. About asking for help, about sleeping in the day, about giving one baby slightly more attention than the other… the first few months are hard and you need to do what you can to get by, but that is nothing to feel guilty about. Twin babies need to learn patience much more quickly than singletons and as long as they are in a safe place it doesn’t hurt them to cry.

It Does Get Better…

I’m throwing this one in at the end to let you know that the early days will be more hectic and exhausting than you can ever imagine, but it will get better.

Looking back now those early days are a blur, I know that I was head over heels in love with those tiny babies, but I was so sleep deprived I can’t really remember much more.

Now my babies are nearly one, they’ve started sleeping better at night (yes they can do 13 hours in a stretch, you won’t be sleep deprived forever!), they don’t need to be fed every 3 hours, and we don’t have quite so many nappies to change, we have more time for fun, and we have lots of it!

Some people will stop you in the street and say “double trouble – rather you than me” but I wouldn’t change my twins for the world, because we get double the love and double the fun!

Enjoy being the lucky parent of twins!

~Clare, currently pinning to Parenting Tips

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So much great information here for what it's really like to have twins!


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