Preparing Your Body For Twins
These are my seven tips for preparing your body for your twin pregnancy.
Staying hydrated is a powerful thing. You’ll have less headaches, less swelling and fewer early contractions if you drink enough water. Think of your baby swimming in a reservoir that needs to be constantly replenished. You are the one who can provide that fresh environment for your baby so you’ll need enough water each and every day to achieve that goal. Add on top of that an extra glass or two for you. Your body needs enough water every day to flush your system of the extra fluid waste making your feet swell up and to hydrate your muscles to keep contractions at bay.
Incorporate the right amount of fiber into your diet so you can avoid the backup that many pregnant women experience when so much pressure is put your system. You’ll have TWO babies taking up the space of your normal internal organ layout so having fiber will help things go *ahem* more smoothly.
3) Embrace pregnancy clothes early and often.
I made the switch to full panel maternity pants and maternity tops very early in my second trimester and never looked back. I even did a closet purge and pulled all the clothes that didn’t fit and put them away in boxes. Then when I got dressed in the morning I didn’t see all my favorite clothes staring at me reminding me of my expanding waist line.
If you’re in the not quite here not quite there stage you can take a rubber band and loop it through your fly on your pants to continue to wear your pre-pregnancy pants a few weeks longer (you leave the fly open, secure it with the rubber band and pull a long shirt down over it) or buy a belly band to go over the whole thing. I did the rubber band trick for about three days before buying the belly band. It was twenty dollars well spent. The belly band was also great once I switched to maternity pants but the top was still a little too loose.
Clothes can be expensive but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on maternity wear to feel cute. My main purchases were at OldNavy.com, H&M and a few things from Motherhood Maternity and clearance racks at Gap. Check out consignment stores too, you’re in these clothes for such a short period of time you can find some great bargains on clothes that still look brand new. By doing laundry more often I was able to make a few good pieces of clothing go further in my rotation. My entire pregnancy I only bought two pairs of maternity jeans and three pairs of slacks for work. Why spend more money than you need to?
The one tip on clothing I wish I had known was to buy two sizes in my most favorite items. Perhaps this is only a tip if your pregnant with multiples. The last two months of a multiples pregnancy you grow so much larger than the average pregnant woman and right before your eyes you’ll be outgrowing all your maternity clothes.
There was one pair of black slacks from H&M that I wore nearly every day to work until I outgrew them. I figured the simple solution was to go back to the store and buy the next size up. Wrong. By that time the seasons were changing and their small maternity selection had been swapped out from winter to spring clothes. My adored slacks were replaced with capri pants that I wouldn’t be able to wear to the office. I was so bummed out about that. If I had known I would have bought the size that fit at the time and a size or two bigger for later on.
4) Find shoes with room and good support.
This was the one area of clothing that caused me the most stress. I felt like I woke up one day and all of my shoes were too tight. I bought a couple pairs of transition shoes, they fit my feet but didn’t really have the support I ended up needing. Finally I splurged and bought a pair of Clarks Wave shoes. For my style, they aren’t the cutest shoes but you need to realize to make it very far in a pregnancy you need to put comfort over style. I wore those shoes almost daily for the last two months so I feel better about the price I shelled out to get them.
Find shoes that have good arch support and cushion for your sore tired feet, leave an extra half size for the swelling and most definitely go for slip on or easy buckle shoes. Eventually you’ll be too big to bend over and tie shoes.
Having comfortable feet makes you less cranky by the end of a long work day!
5) Sleep a lot and eat well.
I found that the more sleep I got the better I felt, the same for what foods I ate. It’s hard to let go of your old lifestyle and knowing when to say no to the late night out with friends because of what you have going on the next day. But you have to find the balance between your old body and new one.
When you’re pregnant it’s not just your belly, it’s your whole body that you have to care for. If you don’t get enough sleep you’ll be cranky, if you don’t get enough food and the right kinds you’ll feel crummy.
I certainly had enough junk food during my pregnancy but I also knew what healthy foods made me feel the best and reached for those first. Grazing throughout the day is really important to maintain your energy level and keep your spirits up. Keep nuts or granola in your purse and don’t let yourself get run down. If you’re dealing with morning sickness make sure you don’t let your stomach get too empty or too full. It’s a delicate balance that takes practice. There’s a lot of tips out there for getting through morning sickness but this was the one universally successful piece of advice that worked for me.
6) Put your feet up.
Sore feet was a big thing during my pregnancy. If it is for you too then you need to find ways to cope. Have a desk job? Put a foot stool or paper box under your desk and put your feet up often. Same at home. If you don’t have an ottoman, now is the time to invest in one. My mom gave us two of those cushy standing mats like retail workers use to stand on at their register. We put one in front of the sink and one under the bathroom mat in front of the mirror. That made a HUGE difference for me.
And if you’re a partner or friend of a pregnant woman reading this article… think foot rubs. A foot rub is always welcomed. Just keep in mind that a foot rub for a pregnant woman is different than normal. Ask her what she likes, sometimes a light touch feels better than deep kneading. Avoid the ankle area and do a little bit of research. There are certain spots on the ankle that are said to induce labor when the right pressure points are hit. If this worries you, ask your doctor about it and go with their advice.
7) You will still look pregnant when you leave the hospital.
I thought dropping fourteen pounds of baby plus placentas would have me feeling pretty fine when I walked out of the hospital. It was a very sobering moment when I realized how big I still was. My c-section incision was right where the seam on my jeans hit so I ended up wearing pajamas to go home. It was slightly embarrassing but there was nothing to be done about it. Be prepared mentally to know that your body will take a while to get back in shape and perhaps you’ll look like you’re still pregnant when you go home.
Preparing Your Mind For Twins
These are my five tips for preparing your mind for the arrival of your twins.
1) Realize people around you will say stupid things.
Being pregnant is a strange time in your life where you are on a crazy roller coaster of hormones and emotions combined with complete strangers offering you advice purely because you have a growing belly. No other time in my life have I taken the advice of “take what they say with a grain of salt” more to heart. People say things without thinking and for the most part they don’t realize that what they’re saying can be taken the wrong way. It’s not worth your energy to get upset over stranger’s comments and treat the on-slot of advice as just that – advice – not anything you have to do. Some days will be harder than others but let the dumb comments roll off your back and enjoy the compliments you get while you get them. Do you have strangers touching your belly? Does it make you uncomfortable? The next time it happens to you, reach out and touch their belly at the same time. It will make them feel awkward too and could be just the thing that helps them realize that unsolicited touching is not welcome.
2) Enjoy those lasts before the firsts begin.
It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of being pregnant and the anticipation of meeting your new babies but don’t rush things. Everything will happen in due time and once those babies are here life will never be the same. Especially for your first child(ren), enjoy time with your friends, family and partner while you can. Sure they’ll still be there after you give birth but life will never be the same again. You’ll need those last several weeks of rest and time of reflection to get through the rough patches. Now is the time to jot down your feelings and capture what your life was like in this moment. Perhaps write a letter to your baby, capture your experiences of being pregnant or a love letter to the person who got you into this mess to begin with.
3) Cut yourself some slack.
There is no perfect pregnancy or perfect pregnant woman. For all the research you can do and advice you can hear, you’ll get to a point where you just need to sit back and relax. If you eat that extra treat your baby isn’t going to come out cross eyed and if you decide to stay at home and sleep instead of getting together with friends again they won’t be mad at you (if they’re good friends). Being pregnant is a hard, long road. Some will get an attitude because society tells us you should be happy to be pregnant and all glowy and loving every minute of it. Well that’s crap. Before you were pregnant you had bad days right? Well it’s okay to have a bad day during your pregnancy too. As you get further along you’ll begin to slow down and not have the physical ability or stamina you used to have. It’s okay to go to only one store on your list per day instead of the five you’d usually do. For me sometimes a grocery store run was a huge effort (and sometimes I sent in my husband with a list while I waited in the car) If you’re tired, take a nap or go to bed early. Not everything has to be finished right now. Treat your body well first and all the rest will follow in time.
4) Reality check.
Remember that no matter where you are in life there will always be those who are better off than you and those who have it worse than you. For those difficult days remind yourself why you are going through all of this – to have a healthy happy baby. Not everyone is lucky enough to get to have a baby when they want one. Not everyone is lucky enough to be as healthy as you are during their pregnancy. It’s okay to be upset or have a bad day but try to keep things in perspective. Focus on the positives and maybe you’ll get through your funk quicker. Remember, some people are going through being tired, swollen and in pain and it’s not because of a happy thing like being pregnant.
5) Depression awareness.
Being a mother of multiples is a very straining and stressful experience. There are many happy, blissful moments but be aware of the toll it can take on you mentally. Postpartum depression and mood disorders are very common among mothers of multiples. It makes sense; the extra hormones, extra sleep depravation, extra physical stress all piled on your body at once can trigger a chemical imbalance that could need medical attention to correct. Having twins is not a guarantee that you’ll get PPD or PPMD but it’s a good idea to be aware of the warning signs so you’ll be prepared. Make sure your partner and close family or friends have the heads up too. Sometimes they’ll be able to see things more clearly and have a third party opinion on how you are doing.
You can read about my journey through post partum depression here or once I was on the other side and looking back.
On twitter @embellishology says it short and sweet “Prepare yourself and your family for the crazy that is to come for momma.”
1)Ask Early, Ask Often.
People love babies and people love to offer help. Now is the time in your life to call upon those in your circle for help. If someone offers to help you out don’t let it pass as a nice thing they say, take them up on it! During your last months of pregnancy you’ll need help with chores and anything that requires bending, lifting heavy things or going up and down stairs a lot. Now is not the time to be modest or think you’ll have time to finish everything on your list by yourself.
Open up your life and home a little and ask folks to help you with preparing and cleaning your house, rotating laundry, running errands, getting organized, putting together baby gear or doing research. I was amazed at the things our friends and family helped us with without hesitation. And after their hard work they were still our friends and came back for more! Once the baby is home you can use the extra hands with keeping your house running (dishes, laundry and grocery store runs) getting dinner on the table and emotional support as you figure out how to be a parent. Maybe there is someone who lives close who can fold laundry on Sundays or a friend further away who can be your phone call counselor when you need an ear to talk to. Think through how you’ll ask for help and get folks lined up to step in during the first couple months after the baby is born. Just don’t take any of it for granted, thank them really meaningfully and make sure they know it wasn’t a small thing for them to come and help you out – you really needed the help and they made a big difference. Many many people helped us with the boys but for me personally knowing my three best friends had my back meant the world to me.
2) Gear, Gear, Gear.
Some things you’ll need two of for twins, some things you’d like to have two of and somethings are a “skip it” or at least they were for us.
I knew I’d be breastfeeding Graham and Miles so I made sure to buy a “Twin” nursing pillow. I’m glad I bought one second hand because I didn’t end up using it. In the beginning the pillow hit right where my c-section incision was and it was too tender to put weight on it. I nursed the boys one at a time and didn’t need a twin specific nursing pillow. By the time they were older I used regular bed pillows for tandem nursing and then followed with a bottle. It was easier to adjust the pillows specific to the hold I was using and I could mold the pillow differently if I needed to lay one down while I adjusted the other. We bought four cheapy pillows at Target and a few sets of cases which made it easy to wash and always have a fresh set on hand.
I’d say skip the twin nursing pillow unless you can borrow one. Or wait until you have the tots in hand and can figure out whether you’ll need one.
As a side note breastfeeding was a very emotional and stressful topic for me. Do what you can to educate yourself on the mechanics of breastfeeding before your newborns arrive so you will feel more prepared to handle any challenges that may come your way. You can read my post on breastfeeding here.
If you plan to use a breast pump and you’ll be home during the time you’re using it; I highly recommend renting a hospital grade breast pump instead of buying one on the retail market. If you’re trying to build your supply or if you want to pump extra milk to have helpers bottle feed your babies, this is the quickest and most efficient way of getting your liquid gold. Check your insurance company and see if they cover any of the rental cost. You may find that a rental is very affordable and you won’t need a pump for that long anyway; the cost will be worth it.
I recommend skipping the purchase of pump parts and don’t register for them on your baby registry. You my find you can get part kits for “free” when you’re in the hospital. I got three kits free through my stay in the hospital and in pediatrics. I ended up needing larger flanges anyway so any I would have bought before the boys were born would have been the wrong size.
If you need bottles pick a style and buy a days worth (10-14 bottles) then you can wash them in the dish washer and not have the extra work of hand washing. We finally decided on Tommy Tipee bottles since they were the closest we could find to “natural” feeding. Since I was breastfeeding and using bottles I was worried about nipple confusion or the boys preferring the bottle. I never had a problem with either. And this is another product I recommend waiting on until after you babies arrive to purchase. It might be good to have a couple on hand but there are so many different styles to choose from you may find you have to try a couple different ones before you find a good fit for you and your babies.
Nursing bracelet or reminder
I was all keen on getting two of those nursing bracelet reminder things that started popping up on the trend lists. What a great low tech way to keep track of what time and which side you last nursed your baby! I’m glad I got two used, they were a total bust. The idea is a good one but I was so sleep deprived that I couldn’t keep my tracking straight and the bracelets were a bit large on me so they kept slipping off my wrist. In the end I just used a plain old hair band to keep track of my starting nursing side. I arbitrarily picked Miles as the bracelet indicator and which ever wrist it was on that was the side I started Miles on first. Then I could easily switch wrists during a session and the thing would stay on during the day and in showers. I never had to remember to put it back on and didn’t walk around in pubic wearing dorky nursing bracelets.
We did get two boppy pillows and those came in handy. Helpers used them for bottle feeding one on one, I’d occasionally use them for individual nursing but they were mostly used for “brother time” or letting them hang out on an incline. They were also good for tummy time and using as extra support as they learned to sit on their own. I recommend getting one or two boppy pillows but buy them used, the market is flooded with them and you can find them in excellent condition.
This is another product that has flooded the market so you can usually find used ones on craigs list or in a consignment shop. This is a nice but not necessary item. It was kind of fun with twins to have a way to sit them up to look at each other (or their feet as the case may be) when they were young.
A good swaddle meant Graham and Miles settled to sleep and stayed asleep longer. Joel was the master of the snug swaddle and I was pretty decent at it but for all those other helpers and for your own 2am swaddling these velcro swaddle blankets were heavenly. This was a nice to have but not a must for us. But for a non-necessity we certainly had a lot of them. My mom found several in consignment stores and we quickly became dependent on them. If you have it in your funds I highly recommend this product.
There are too many other gear items to go through each one in this post. If you have a specific question on what we used or didn’t find we needed please leave a question in the comments section.
I got a great diaper bag from Land’s End which opens up like a doctor’s bag making it easy to find things and it’s roomy enough to carry gear for two babies. The one thing I might have done differently was to pick a backpack style diaper bag or had that kind as a second bag. When you’re carrying two infant seats it’s nice to have a diaper bag strapped to you that won’t constantly fall off your shoulder.
We also found we could never have too many burp clothes or baby sized wash clothes but please ask your crafty friends or family to make you some. A hand towel cut up into smaller sizes works just as well as those ultra expensive baby wash clothes you find in the baby aisle of your local store. We used burp clothes for an extra layer under their head (see picture above) to catch spit ups and cutting down on crib sheet changes. And it always seemed there was never a burp cloth in reach when you needed one so we kept small stacks at all the central sitting spots around our house. With twins you’d find you’d have the cloths by one baby only to have the other baby doing the spit up and needing one to grab quickly!
My last big surprise was how we really didn’t need many clothes other than sleep and play outfits in those first few months. I have always LOVED onesies, they’re just so cute and tiny. But pulling them over a head of a newborn times two was not a hassle I wanted to make four times a day. Graham and Miles LIVED in sleep and play outfits and we kept buying more since it always seemed we would run out of our supply before the laundry was run. These are GREAT to purchase used or borrow from friends, babies grow so fast in the beginning it’s just silly to buy brand new clothes for them to wear when they’re this young.
Please realize that the first few months (years?) after the birth of your twins will be very very difficult. You’ll be emotional, physically exhausted, stressed out and at times unsure of your ability to be a parent. The one thing I have heard from EVERY parent of twins we’ve talked to – it gets easier. Not everything will come naturally and that’s okay. You’ll be sleep deprived and thinking the crying will never stop but it will, eventually. One day you’ll wake up and discover you can change a diaper with ease, sooth your baby, get chores done around the house again and actually go outside and enjoy the day. It all just takes time. Take it one day at a time and know that each completed day is a small victory and the only moment you have to get through is the present.
Having twins is something I would never wish on anyone but would never want to change about our family. It’s so much work but also such a blessing. Graham and Miles are now two and a half and we’re having fun seeing them play together and carry on little conversations with each other. It so neat to see two toddlers have a built in buddy for life. There are many wonderful things having twins will bring into your life.
Next up for us is potty training and moving out of cribs then preschool will be right around the corner.