So - it's time to take your instant family home. The following tips have been developed from my own experience of bringing my twins home and I hope may help you settle in together.
1. Car seats - practise using your car seats when you buy them rather than when it is time to leave the hospital. It will feel like a big deal leaving the hospital with your new family and the last thing you will want particularly if the weather is cold or wet is to take half an hour or more working out how to get the babies into the seats and then how to secure the seats into the car. Even if it’s a seat you have used before it is worth familiarising yourself again with it.
2. Additional Help - Rope in as much help as possible for the early days and if you get a chance to sleep make the most of it. People offer because they want to help, so don't feel guilty accepting!
3. Ready Meals - Even if you normally enjoy wholesome, home cooked food do not worry about relying on frozen ready meals, take aways etc during the early weeks. This need not be a permanent lifestyle choice.
If you'd rather avoid processed meals you could stock your freezer in advance of having the babies but remember that you may be caught on the hop if you go into labour early. Also, towards the end of your pregnancy you are likely to feel big, cumbersome and tired and you may not feel able to spend hours cooking for the freezer.
4. Snacks - Some days with newborns just don't go to plan! Stock the cupboards in advance with easy snacks for grabbing if you aren't able to have a proper meal. This is particularly important of you are breast feeding. Dried and fresh fruit, marmite (or alternatives) for toast can be healthy options. Eggs can also be great for a quick and healthy meal.
5. Try and get dressed. - In the early days of returning home it may be tempting to stay in your nightie or pyjamas. Whilst this isn’t a problem in itself you will feel so much better if you get dressed each day - even if your day doesn’t go as normal.
6. Consider introducing a routine - I’d highly recommend the ‘contented little baby book’ by Gina Ford, although after having my third child I would suggest using the timings as a guide rather than something to follow minute by minute. You can invent your own but in my experience babies (even little ones) do respond well to being guided into a routine and structure in their day.
With 2 babies it makes life an awful lot easier if you know what and when your babies need something. Better still if they both have a nap at the same time - so can you!! Having said that, I know some mums enjoy their babies sleeping at different times so that they can spend some time one to one with their new offspring.
7. Night feeds - up to you but it makes sense to me to wake both babies if one wakes up for a feed (and either rope in dad to feed simultaneously or feed one after the other). That way you will get a better night sleep and will have more energy the next day. Generally speaking if one baby wakes in the night they won’t disturb the other (but of course, as with everything there are always a few exceptions to the rule!!).
I followed this and my twins have been excellent sleepers, sleeping through the night from about 3 months so from my experience I would totally recommend it.
8. Capturing those precious moments - they will not be little babies for very long so make sure you record those moments. My top tip is to photograph your babies with a special teddy - it will look huge next to them. Then repeat the photo at regular intervals - the teddy will act as a benchmark as to the size of your babies and their growth. Not only will you enjoy looking back but your babies will love it to when they are bigger.
9 . Find a local twins club - If there is a local twins club in your area then this is well worth exploring. These can be a fantastic source of support, information and advice from people who understand entirely the challenges you are facing. I have made a fantastic group of friends through our local twins club and we still keep in touch 6 years later.
10. Let dad do his bit. It is easy to feel that you can’t leave Dad in charge - he’ll never cope. But he is as new to parenting twins as you are - he will cope but only if he is put in the position of having too.
If Dad is not around, then make sure you seek support from other sources. The suggestion above to find a twins club or parenting group is likely to be even more important.
I hope that the points above will be of use to you - they are certainly things that I found useful or important. Please feel free to share any comments or advice that you have and I will add more suggestions on Twins and the First Year soon.