Your first year with twins

Raising twins isn’t a walk in the park but neither is looking after one baby. You’ve endured being pregnant with twins and now, for the first time in months you can see your feet again. So what next?

Your two new bundles of joy will need feeding, bathing, changing and to get some rest (thankfully) but how will you cope with just one pair of hands? Can you feed twins two at a time? Will they wake each other up at night?

Let us help you by answering all those questions that might pop up in your first year as a mum of multiples.

If you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant with twins, first read how to prepare for your twins.

Your first year with twins: The first few weeks

Providing everything went smoothly with the birth and your twins weren’t born prematurely you should be home within a few days. These first few weeks will be tough and you just have to get through it the best you can, relying on help from everybody possible.

The ideal scenario is to get your twins into some sort of routine early on but, in reality, you might just find yourself just muddling through. And that’s OK.

Don’t panic if you meet other mums that have their babies perfectly in sync. As long as they’re being loved and looked after and you’re coping, then who cares what anybody else is doing?

Every mum is different and you have to find a a way to get through the first three months yourself.

Expert advice

‘Exhaustion is the biggest thing a new mum of twins is up against and you are bound to feel like this. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not a sign of failure. You’re tired because you’re getting no sleep not because you’re unable to cope or your failing as a mother. Take every opportunity to get some rest. Nap when they’re napping rather than worrying about doing housework. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Your first priority is looking after your babies and you need to look after yourself to do that.

If you’re feeling a bit blue and unable to cope I always found that it helped to take my twins out for a walk. Not only did that quite often soothe their crying but the amount of attention you get and people cooing over them is a good reminder that they are quite lovely and definitely worth the hard work.’
Founder of Twinsclub.co.uk and mum of twins, Lindsey Gray

A mum’s advice

‘The biggest shock I had when I came home from hospital was that I wasn’t ready for two babies that were so different. Tom wanted feeding every 3 hours and Millie wanted feeding all the time – they didn’t fall into sync. Getting them into the same routine was a lot harder than it sounds. You get in a muddle and don’t know what to do. My advice to any new mums is just do whatever works for you and you’ll find a way to manage it somehow, even if it’s not quite the perfect routine that everyone aims for.’
Karen Haynes, mum to twins Tom and Millie, 10

If you can get yourselves organised, then getting out and about with your babies is a really good idea. As getting everything together is such a hassle, it’s easy to become a bit of a recluse with but why not try and join a twins club. Meeting other mums will give you someone to have a moan with and learn things from.

If going out and about really does seem too much effort, then why not share experiences and get advice from other mums in an online community such as Twinsclub.co.uk – the same idea but you can nip in and out while your twins are napping.

Your first year with twins: Crying

Having one baby that’s crying all the time is enough to drive any mother to distraction but two screaming babies can quickly become too much to cope with.

The most important thing is to not be afraid to ask for help. If you’re a single parent, draw upon family members or close friends – anyone that offers to lend a hand.

Expert advice

‘Don’t be proud. Accept all offers of help whatever it might be. Your main priorities are your babies so if somebody wants to clean up or cook for you then let them! You can’t be superwoman and if you turn people down early on, they’re likely to not bother asking again.’
Founder of Twinsclub.co.uk and mum of twins, Lindsey Gray

Time with your health visitor will be invaluable. They can show you techniques for feeding and caring for your twins. It can be hard leaving one baby to cry, but when you’ve only got one pair of hands, sometimes that will have to happen and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

By explaining things like this and just giving you some time to bond with your children individually your health visitor will be a massive help.

Expert advice

‘Don’t panic. My husband once said to me when I was in a bit of a flap ”You’re older than they are, you’re in charge!” and it’s true. As long as there’s not some sort of emergency it’s not the end of the world if they’re crying. You just need to try and stay calm.’
NCT breastfeeding counsellor and mum of twins, Nena Blake

There will inevitably be some points when you’re on your own with your babies and they’re both crying for different things, so what do you do? If one’s hungry and one needs changing, neither is going to suffer unbearably in the time it takes you to sort the other one out. So take a deep breath and go about your tasks one by one.

That said, multi-tasking is a very useful skill in situations like this and rocking one baby to sleep with your foot while giving the other one a bottle is something that you’ll do well to master.

At night

Don’t believe it when people say that twins never wake each other up. You may be lucky but some twins definitely do disturb each other in the night.

However, If you do find yourself awake in the night with one twin crying and the other sound asleep you might want to consider waking it up. We know it goes against the ‘never wake a sleeping baby’ rule but it might be the only way of getting your babies into the same routine.

According to TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association), putting twins in the same cot after they’re born helps them to adjust to their new environment by helping them to co-regulate their body temperatures and their sleep cycles to soothe themselves and their twin.

Twins that are used to being in the same cot are also far less likely to disturb each other at night than those that aren’t, plus, one cot takes up less space so you could potentially keep them both in your bedroom for longer – a known factor in preventing cot death and it’ll mean you don’t have far to go when they want a midnight feed.

Your first year with twins: The benefits

There’s no denying that twins are hard work but on the plus side, you’ve got an instant family and don’t have to fret over when’s the best time to have baby number two or three.

The bond between twins, particularly identical twins, is one that can’t really be mirrored by anything else and that closeness lasts a lifetime. They’ll always have someone there to play with who’s at a similar level to them. Older siblings might get frustrated with a younger child’s inability to play on their level, but with twins that’s not an issue.

Of course with such an intense bond is bound to come some pretty intense fighting but unless they’re hurting each other, it might be best to leave them to it and not get involved in ‘he did this/ she did that’ type rows.

An expert’s view

‘Twins are without a doubt double the pleasure. They’ve been fantastic. The only thing that I see as a negative is the financial cost of having to fork out for double the school uniforms and double the school trips but if you explain your situation to people, they’re almost always willing to help by letting you pay in instalments or something like that. My girls are always there for each other. They’re independent but support and help each other through everything. It’s all very sweet.’
NCT breastfeeding counsellor and mum of twins, Nena Blake

A mum’s view

‘My twins squabble like any brother and sister but if any one of them hurts themselves, it’s then that their bond becomes clear. I remember taking my son to hospital after he’d cut his head on a corner table. Anyone would think Millie was the one injured the way she was screaming down the casualty waiting room. ‘Make him better’ she wailed. ‘Will he be OK?’ As soon as he was out and stitched up they went back to bickering again but it was sweet to see that they really do care.’
Karen Haynes, mum to Tom and Millie, 10