Five bits of advice I actually used as a new mum
Being pregnant with twins meant that there were less people who felt qualified to offer me advice on how to best take care of them and cope with life with two new additions. There were still the odd bits of advice like sleep when the baby sleeps, don't pick them up every time they cry and to try the "cry it out" method however managed to slip through the net. The internet is a scary place too, I googled "advice for new mum's" and there were around 4,450,000 results. This is a terrifying amount of "advice", most of which I would predict is contradictory.
I even in an attempt to calm my nerves as to how I would cope with two newborns indulged in a little Gina Ford. She also writes specifically for twin mum's so how I go wrong with that?
Among the wealth of information I gathered from friends, relatives, midwifes, google and the legendary Gina Ford here is some that stuck with me;
Don't feel like you have to sleep when the baby sleeps
Don't get me wrong, having newborn twins was absolutely exhausting but I didn't want to sleep every time they slept. I am the type of person who likes to have a clean and tidy house and when my twins were newborns my house hadn't yet been wrecked by toddlers so when they slept in the day I was able to keep on top of the washing and tidying and even a little bit of cooking. This let me feel like I had some bit of normality in a life that had been completely turned upside down. This isn't to say that you have to do the same with your "free time". Do something that makes you feel relaxed, calm, happy or refreshed. Have a bath, read a book, eat a meal without a baby in your arms. Anything you want to really that makes you feel a little bit human again. I made sure I found a little time for this too.
Don't put pressure on yourself to feed a certain way
This is a big one! What is best for baby is being fed. I don't disagree that breastfeeding is best for baby but the reality is life doesn't always go to plan. I planned on exclusively breastfeeding my twins despite the majority of people telling me in no uncertain terms that I would be crazy to attempt it. I didn't even want to buy any bottles as back up's as I was so determined that I could do it and do it well. I had read and re-read Gina Ford's advice on breastfeeding twins and really felt like I was prepared to succeed. The reality was that my twins were born six weeks premature by c-section weighing 4lb 12oz and 4lb 15oz, both twins lost weight, we were in hospital for seven days and it was easier for all of us to be able to go home if I bottle fed so that the hospital could fully monitor the twins food intake. Expressing wasn't really working so formula was their main milk supply. When we were discharged I still carried on trying to breastfeed at home. I was formula feeding along with trying to express and breastfed some feeds to increase my milk supply but it just didn't work for us. When I was expressing I felt guilty that my attention wasn't on the babies, when breastfeeding I felt guilty that they weren't getting enough milk and when bottle feeding I felt guilty that I wasn't breastfeeding. It was a vicious cycle that could have sent me insane until I decided to exclusively bottle feed, this gave me time between their feeds to have a little time to myself and play with them when they were awake. I instantly felt relief that I was no longer in constant conflict and seeing that my twins were happy, content and growing at a perfect rate put my mind at ease even further. It also allowed my wife to feed and have time to bond too. This is not me saying that bottle feeding is the best option. Just that it was the best option for us. Do what works for your baby, for you, you life, your routine if you have one and most of all your sanity.
Avoid too many visitors
This was something I was set on from early on in my pregnancy. I wanted a "babymoon" although I didn't know it was called this at the time. I was determined that my wife and I would have quality time with our new babies before she went back to work without a constant stream of visitors knocking at the door. This was made easier by the fact that we lived relatively far away from our friends and family at the time the twins were born so we didn't have a stream of visitors who were able to just "nip round" (for 6 hours). We kept our list of "approved" visitors limited to immediate family (our parent's and very closest friends) for the first two weeks following their birth and in the first week we had three days without seeing anyone other than the hospital staff.
These were the best two weeks of our lives. We were completely happy, as relaxed as you can be with twins and didn't have any worries about making sure we had milk to make our visitors a coffee or that the bathroom sink had been cleaned that morning. Total bliss. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT feel guilty about saying no to visitors who you know are not important. Those people who you know will not be a part of your child's life are the ones I am talking about. They do not qualify for taking any bit of your time with your precious newborn.
Eat whatever you want to keep you sane
High up on my list of things to do on maternity leave was to prep enough food to feed and army and put it all in perfectly sized containers in the freezer with cute little hand written labels. Result = FAIL. I was in hospital with bleeding and preeclampsia before my maternity leave even started leaving a wife at home who cant cook and a shit load of empty tupperware. But worry not, because......
I had marmite and McDonald's. I ate whatever the hell I fancied which mostly consisted of marmite on toast and McDonald's chips for the first few weeks following their birth with the odd "proper" meal thrown in when I was feeling like super mum. This massively saved on washing up, the weight still came off and we all survived. Now almost three years later though I still weigh about the same as when the twins were a month old. Maybe I should stop eating whatever the hell I want round about now........
Fill up your baby during the hours of 7am-7pm
This little pearl of wisdom I took from Gina Ford. This isn't something that you can do immediately as your newborn will need feeds through the night as their tummies cant take enough milk to see them through but it is something we started to introduce when the twins were able to sleep a longer stretch through the night. The basic idea is that you feed your baby their required milk allowance for their weight during the hours of 7am-7pm. For us this involved waking the babies for a feed throughout the day and keeping a strict feeding routine. We also did a dream feed at 10pm as they were still quite small in weight. The basic idea is that if your baby gets their allowance in the day they won't need to feed as much during the evening. The alternative is that letting the baby sleep longer periods during the day and therefore having less feeds means that they will need to "fill up" during the night. This means more awake time during the night and then catching up on sleep the next day and the cycle continues. Again this isn't for everyone but I found having two to take care of the feeding routine worked for us.
Disregard 95% of the advice that you are given (don't worry about feeling like to are bad at this, you aren't)
In line with all the other contradictory advice out there I will end on this, ignore all of the above should you wish! Do it your way, you will do or already are doing an absolutely, amazingly, perfect job of this. Even if your hair has been in a mum bun for a week and you've had takeaway every day for as long as you can remember.
Bye for now,