MANAGING TWINS - WITH LYNDSAY MORGAN
I ‘lived in’ with a family of new-born twins and set them on the pathway to a daily routine by being consistent.
The mother became involved with the local Twin Club and asked if I would write a piece for their Club’s newsletter concerning raising twins and in particular how to set a routine.
Here is that advice.
Now – back to the subject – and I will deal with the management of twins.
If your twins are just born or have been part of your life for a little while –don’t forget these two BIG words – ROUTINE and CONSISTENCY. Also – I trust that you have read the first part of this book and it is important that you do. So now you have a good idea of how to manage a single birth – and that you must not give in.
It is of no use whatsoever to set a routine, carry it out for a few days and then toss it out the window because it all gets too hard, you’re tired and you feel like tossing the babies out with the bath water!!!
Firstly, as I tell my mothers, give it time, stick to the routine – be consistent – and it will happen. If you feel the urge to go out – do so, but leave the babies tucked up, in the capable hands of a trusted friend, or family member. Don’t take the babies out too soon – as the routine will be broken with just getting them in and out of baby seats, cars and then repeating that in reverse to get them home again! And then they won’t go back to sleep – they will cry and the routine starts to get wobbly.
In the long run, and if you really want settled babies, establish the ROUTINE. This means feeding and sleeping at the same time every day – give or take some. You will eventually have a very settled set of twins and you will know just when you can go out – when you make appointments, when you can invite friends around and when you can go and have a sleep yourself. VERY IMPORTANT.
And so – here is the recipe for happy, well adjusted babies – mothers who cope – and Dad’s who have had a hand in all this routine business. He will need to be trained too and he is indispensable.
Feeding: Feed times to begin with are all over the place but 3 hourly is not unusual to begin with. If all is going to plan, whether breast feeding or bottle feeding, this should extend to 4 hourly – give or take 10-15 mins – remembering that the four hours starts from the time they wake until the time comes around all too quickly for the next feed.
That is what you are aiming for, providing the babies are healthy and well, and had good birth weights. You will need to be guided by your hospital care givers if the babies are below this and will need even 2 hourly feeding for a while. I will deal only with babies who are well and healthy as babies who are being fed two hourly will have a qualified nurse visiting at regular intervals and you can discuss specialised feeding with that wonderful person.
I suggest that you keep a book with all feeding times and how much each baby drinks (if bottle fed) – also any top-up feeds given to a breast-fed babies - written in. Also whether the nappy was wet or pooey at each change.
You are so tired that these ‘minor’ things – which are in fact very important, need to be relayed to the visiting nurse.
So – remember…..write things down in your book – not on a scrap of paper!
If bottle fed – how much taken at each feed
If breast fed – how many minutes each side and
Did the baby have a top-up (formula from a bottle)
Wet nappy/soiled nappy
Breast Feeding your Twins.
I cared for twins – and their sister was 20 months old!!! That’s three little girls under 20months!! Wow!
We established breast-feeding – very quickly setting the ROUTINE CONSISTENTLY at around 4 hourly. These two beautiful babies slept through the night at 7 weeks!
A great asset to feeding twins are 2 small bean bags – a very safe place for one baby to be in a position of being able to bring up wind – or just safe and waiting!
Double feed twins – heads together – at the breast because if you try single feeding – which will happen from time to time – you will be feeding your twins all day long!!! Bottle fed twins should also be double fed – you will sit between the babies who must be propped up securely if you are doing this alone . BEAN BAG.
There will be times when you feed one baby alone – but there will be a reason for that – but gradually the routine will kick in and double feeding becomes the norm.
Double breast feeding takes a little time to get your head around and at the beginning it is a good idea to have someone who is experienced with breast feeding and is supportive of you and your desire to breast feed two babies at the same time.
You will need a tri-pillow under each arm – sit in the middle of a sofa and once feeding you will have the babies head to head with their little legs tucked in with one pair of legs facing to the left and the other facing to the right. This is when you need that extra pair of hands to get both babies latched on with you supporting each head in each of your hands.
This all sounds higgledy piggeldy – if you know what I mean but very soon you are off and the babies are having a good feed. I promise you – it will happen. Hang in there, have patience and, as I said, have someone with you for the first few days until you are a dab hand at this double feeding.
Now comes the tricky part because each baby will need to be winded. You will quickly find out which baby is the one who needs to be winded before the other. Adjust the tri-pillow so that the baby who is to continue feeding is supported, take the other baby off the breast and place on the bean bag which is very close by. Then take the other baby off the breast and wind in the normal way – straight up and down with one of your hands firmly at the lower part of the baby’s tummy and the other on his back – in a good upright position.
Feeding times: I suggest the following feed times to aim for – 5am – 9am – 1pm – 5pm – 9pm or 6am – 10am – 2pm – 6pm – 10pm - with a feed during the night. No matter what time you feed during the night and you think you will leave the babies to sleep beyond the suggested feed time – don’t !!!!! Wake them at 5am – or maybe they will wake a little before that – by the time you have got ready for the feed – you will be around that 4 hourly mark. The 4 hourly feeding is 4 hours from the time they start to feed until they start to feed at the next suggested time – not 4 hours after you put them down to sleep.
Give or take 15 – 20mins or so, this is the ROUTINE and be CONSISTENT
The actual feed should not take longer than 20 – 30 mins – and this should be no longer once you have got the hang of double feeding and the babies have got the hang of latching on with their tongues down!!
Nipples can get very sore if the babies are allowed to go on and on at the breast – newly born babies will go to sleep at the breast – and therefore the feeding times should be sucking for that time with a quick stop after 8-10 mins for wind. You will find that after a good burp, the baby will be ready for another good suck.
Don’t be tempted to let your babies become ‘snackers’ – that means the baby has just that – a snack – falls asleep and you may be very tempted to pop the baby down – asleep – and all he has had is a snack. The baby MUST have a full tummy to be able to have a good sleep.
When breast feeding, alternate the babies starting side so that over a period of a day, each breast will be approximately evenly emptied.
Bottle feeding is similar – always stop for wind half way through the bottle. The baby might complain – but take no notice – tell him to behave and there is more on the way!!!
When you first arrived home from the hospital, if at all possible, have someone on hand – husband – friend – family member to help you get organised for feeding twins. At first you’ll be all fingers and thumbs – just take it easy – don’t rush – the babies will survive – and you will have had some practise in the hospital – but it is all a bit different when you are away from the experts! But very soon you’ll be one of those!
Another tip – there is only one boss and that is NOT the baby. And this should last until the baby has grown up and leaves home!!!!
Back to feeding – with breast feeding I suggest that you have a bean bag – small is better but ordinary size is OK. Have it close by and quickly you will manage to place one baby in the bean bag whilst still feeding the other!
If you are breast-feeding and you feel that your milk is not quite sufficient for the babies’ needs it is perfectly OK to offer the baby a top-up – that is formula from a bottle. Make sure that the hole in the teat is not tiny – the babies are used the their supply of milk coming quite easily so the same should apply to milk from a bottle – when you test the warmth of the milk on your wrist, the milk should drip quite easily from the teat.
Make a decision before you breast-feed that this could happen – have the formula already prepared as you don’t want to have to go through the process of making up a formula after the breast feed. Time is precious – you can make up maybe 100 mls and just warm up 20 mls or so. Leave the rest covered in the fridge for next time. This is OK to do providing you have sterilised the milk container, bottle and teats.
This top-up is not detrimental to breast feeding, but just what is says – a top-up. Gradually your breast milk will be sufficient.
Tip any remaining milk from the baby’s bottle down the sink!
Another little hint – don’t rush in and pick your baby up the minute you hear them cry. Make them wait a few minutes – it does not hurt them and soon they will be quite happy to simply wait until you are ready. Eventually the babies will be quite happy to lie and amuse themselves and there is nothing more magical that to hear your babies gurgling away to each other simply because you have encouraged them to wait.
Burping: VERY IMPORTANT. A baby will not settle after a feed with a tummy full of wind. Burping should be done half way through a feed, and again at the end. This is where a bean bag comes in so handy – or if you don’t have one – make sure you have a couple of good softish pillows that you can prop one baby in at the end of the sofa – close by, where one baby can be placed while you deal with the other. Sit the burping baby straight up and down on your knee – one hand FIRMLY just beneath his tummy and one hand FIRMLY on his back. You will learn to support his head with a couple of fingers. Hold in this position for a couple of minutes – then if nothing has happened pop him over your shoulder. If still nothing happens place the baby flat on the floor on a baby mat or towel on his back and leave while you deal with baby No. 2. Quite often by lying a baby flat on the floor for a couple of minutes, the wind will be dislodged when you pick the baby up. Also – as the weeks go by, the baby learns to burp – maybe 4 weeks or so but also – you will get much better at bringing up wind. Don’t put the babies down before they bring up their wind. They will not settle.
During this burping period, talk to the babies and tell them how good they are – tell them about the weather – about what daddy is going to have for dinner and lots and lots of smiling from you. No jiggling up and down – no patting vigorously on the baby’s back – not necessary. Just hold firmly back and front – the wind will come! If you can’t make it happen – pass the baby – if possible to another pair of hands – just that move can sometimes dislodge the wind!
Putting to bed: For the first few weeks – the end of the feed and the burping is the end of being out of bed! Make sure they have clean bottoms – wrap firmly – I am a big believer in wrapping babies and could tell you a whole book of stories about babies who would not settle but once they were firmly wrapped and therefore feeling secure – they will sleep.
Place the babies into their beds, make sure they are warm but not over-heated. It is better to have a little air coming into the room and to put on a hat during the winter or an extra blanket. Don’t put the babies down in a jersey or cardigan – these items of clothing should be put on when the babies are picked up for a feed.
Tuck firmly in, tell them it’s time for sleep and leave the room. I am a big believer in shutting the door as babies will soon realise that that noise means sleep, but this is a personal choice.
The babies may cry – leave them for 5 mins – don’t rush in a pick them up because that is what they will expect. A cry does not hurt the baby. It is the only exercise he will get for a while. If it worries you, turn the music up or turn the vacuum cleaner on!
After 5 mins go in – see if they need re-wrapping or gently stroke their back. Then start over again – leave the room and let them cry for just a little longer. You may like to pop a dummy in to see if that does the trick but small babies find it difficult to keep the dummy in the mouth so play this bit by ear. You could get into a crazy habit of forever going in to put the dummy back in.
Cross your fingers – if they have had a good feed – there is no wind, the baby will settle. Give the baby time to settle.
It is a big learning curve for both you and the babies.
When the babies have settled – and I’m talking about the mid morning feed – think about what you’re going to have for dinner. Prepare something that will help you in that direction as it is a busy time of the day – dinner time – and if you can be a jump ahead, good for you.
It’s routine and consistency that will get you through.
Have a rest at some stage of the day.
Put a load of washing on before you go to bed at night.
You will have lots of offers of help. Never say no.
Remember – this is just a guide. Each of your twins is completely different. One may need more food than the other. One may feed more slowly than the other. One may be a good sleeper and not the other. But don’t give up on the ROUTINE or the CONSISTENCY. In the end it is worth a million dollars and women with one baby will regard you as a super mum!
Empowering Parents to Raise Fabulous Little People