Caring for newborn twins
Practical tips for everyday life – Gemini and multiple births can present their parents in the first few months of life considerable challenges. For triplets and quadruplets, only a functioning social network helps, but even twin parents often feel overwhelmed and stressed at first.
Be parents of twins
In the first few weeks and months after birth, parents of multiples probably always have the experience that the entire everyday life almost exclusively revolves around the new baby.
The only good organization helps here, as much support as you can get from friends and relatives and a good dose of serenity. Twin and other multiple parents know that living with children is extremely creative – and when the little ones are a little older, everyday life becomes easier again.
Twins are already in the womb society and love it later in life. As a mother or father, you will soon see how much your twins need each other and how they can excellently deal with each other and alone.
Gemini and multiple births also give each other a lot of security and closeness – which relieves you as a parent in the long term. Also, multiple parents are inevitably more consistent educators: twins often learn much faster than single children to occupy themselves, to eat alone and to deal with limits.
A good preparation for everyday life with twins is important in pregnancy
Midwives and other professional helpers are often amazed by a phenomenon among twin parents: before birth, the fears – and the plans – for everyday life with several babies within narrow limits. During pregnancy, many women are mainly concerned with the joy of the children.
N the first few weeks, this is often followed by a “hard landing” – breastfeeding, feeding, wrapping and the fact that the household also has to continue to claim the full power of the mothers. The partners can thereby often only in the evening and help on the weekends because it is involved in its daily work.
Parents grow relatively harmoniously into everyday life with several newborns, if they obtain comprehensive information before the birth of the children, ensure a stable network and plan their future family life. The experiences of other multiple parents or even live impressions can help considerably. Opportunities for such contacts exist in twin forums and local twin groups.
Breastfeeding, feeding, changing, sleeping – how does it work with several babies?
Of course, you can – as well as single children – also fully breastfeed your twins. Their milk production is stimulated by the children’s sucking reflex and quickly adapts to the needs of the two babies. Whether you breastfeed your twins at the same time or individually is up to you and the rhythm of your babies.
The former saves time – as long as the children are hungry at the same time. In case of initial difficulties and to learn the most suitable “technique” for nursing children, you can contact your after-care midwife or a professional breastfeeding advisor.
Even a nursing group can be helpful – especially if there are other twin mothers. They meet people who know their questions and uncertainties from their own experience. Simultaneous breastfeeding also has the advantage that the babies develop a common daily rhythm, i.e. also sleep at the same times.
By the way, most twins want to be quite close to each other while sleeping. If they do not interfere with each other through a different rhythm – in which case they may even need a separate bedroom – so a twin cradle or a twin bed is ideal.
Twins always mean double work. Every baby needs to be fed and wrapped several times a day, wants your attention and asks for your comfort. So better do not try to cater to every child at all times.
This is impossible – one of the babies will always scream while you’re busy with the other twin. However, the children quickly learn to wait until it is their turn. It is good if your partner, grandparents or a friend sometimes relieve you so that you find time to devote yourself to just one child.
Many parents find it helpful to keep a journal of the care and developmental progress of their twins. Already at the time of birth, the babies rarely have the same weight and the same size, even after they develop differently.
In everyday life, it will often be difficult for you to remember how many times you have wrapped or fed which child, which is not a cause for panic – you see if your baby is well or if one of them is missing something.
What personal and material help is there?
One page is your private network – the more extensive and reliable, the better. Initially, your midwife will come for home visits. The health insurance companies also pay for twins with extended midwifery care and, for a limited period, also partially cover the costs of home help.
The maternity leave for multiple birth mothers begins like all other mothers six weeks before the expected date of birth, but not after that is eight but twelve calendar weeks. A judgment of the Federal Social Court of 27 June 2013 strengthens the position of twin parents about parental allowance.
Accordingly, parental allowance is paid for each child up to the age of 14 months, provided that both parents were previously fully employed and make their claims to it with a separate application. Previously, the parental allowance was granted only once for 14 months – just like a single child.
In a nutshell: Both mothers and fathers of twins can decide at the same time for family time and initially dedicate themselves exclusively to their children. However, the double parental benefit is only paid in this case. If only one of the two partners stays home to look after the children, they can only receive the simple parental allowance.
Twin parents can also retroactively assert their right to double parental allowance through a petition for review at their parental benefit center, provided that both parents have temporarily interrupted their work because of the care of their children. The limitation period for this is four years.
Also, the parental allowance for the second child increases by 300 euros and for each additional multi-child by the same amount. In multiple cases, the parental allowance may well exceed the maximum legal amount of 1,800 euros in individual cases.
Some states and municipalities offer additional financial support to multiple parents. Families who have been in dire straits as a result of the birth of multiple births receive financial support from the Federal Foundation “Mother and Child” upon application.
If you do not plan a long family break after the birth of twins, the general right to part-time work helps you to negotiate family-friendly reduced working hours. A home office may also be a solution that will work for you and your company after your return. You should discuss such issues early with your employer.
Twins – buy everything twice?
Gemini and multiple births will certainly change your entire life, but an only child will do the same. Even its very practical elements want to be well planned in advance and if possible even before birth. Is the apartment big enough or is there a move in the foreseeable future? Does the twin stroller you won’t fit through the front door? And of course: Which things do we have to buy twice now?
Buy twice; you must, of course, all the personal things of the children – clothing, underwear, bedding, baby dishes, pots, cuddly toys, bouncers, car seats. Things are different with toys: Children like to play together, but usually, deal with very different things.
Of course, when multiple people get older, they also need toys that belong to them alone, for example, scooters or bicycles. For the baby and toddler time is enough if they share their toys apart from a few beloved individual pieces.
Whether your twins should have their room right from the start depends mainly on the size of your apartment. Often the little ones will want to share a room until well into school age. If you have enough space, here is a division into a bedroom and a playroom for the little ones.
Whether you dress your twins identically, babies and toddlers still do not care. From the kindergarten age, however, twins also develop their individuality and thus their taste, which speaks for different and freely chosen clothing.
Different Internet portals specialize in the special needs of twin and multiple parents. In the shops, you will find everything you need for your children – and also good tips for relatives or friends willing to donate. Affordable alternatives offer baby flea markets on the Internet or at your place of residence.
Activities and classes with the babies – what is realistic?
On the way, twins are comfortable and comfortable in their twin cars (also for triplets and quadruplets there are similar models) – so far, so good. A bit exhausting can be the maneuvering of the companions. For twins, there are also special bags or cloths, which are suitable only for the first few months of life, since the children are then too big and too heavy for common longer wearing.
Many activities or classes with the children require escorts who can take care of one of the babies. For baby swimming, for example, such a caregiver is indispensable. The so-called PEKiP courses – which are based on the “Prague Parent-Child Program” – which are about group work as well as the early support of the children in a moderated playgroup are well suited for multiples.
Suggestions for age-appropriate games alternate with periods of rest, with the games, are the babies themselves active. The parents come to questions about the development and the everyday life of their children into the conversation.
How do older sibling children react?
If you already have one or older children, this time also needs to get used to the family growth. Siblings react to twins and multiple births, sometimes defiantly to aggressively, others demand more affection and closeness from their parents.
It is recommended in the initial phase of a parental division of labor: The mother focuses on the babies, the father is dedicated more to the older children. Accompany your child to building relationships with younger siblings, involve them in looking after the children in an age-appropriate manner, and explain to them that you are facing a mountain of work.
But with the support of your partner and other helpers, also reserve time for your older children. And: Never punish jealousy.
Incidentally, twins and multiple births have older siblings is an advantage. Especially with twins, it lifts the fixation on each other a bit. The older siblings are playmates, role models and also “sparring partners” for their development. As a parent, you are faced with the task of integrating a large family.