Is the idea of a multiple birth sending you into a panic? Twins or triplets? 5 straight talking tips for expecting multiples by mum of triplets Michelle Duncan
So you’ve just found out you’re expecting multiples. Your emotions will likely run the gamut of excitement to fear (and back again!) before settling firmly on shock. And that’s okay. It’s big news and you don’t need to feel guilty for not instantly jumping for joy. There’s plenty of time for that to come…
Once the shock wears off your mind will start whirling. You’ll need two (or more) cots, car seats, a mountain of nappies… The practical things are relatively easy to sort out, no matter how daunting they seem at first. What is far more difficult is the emotional journey that accompanies this news.
Here’s my five best tips (from someone that’s ‘been there done that’) to help you breathe a little easier as you adjust to your family’s impending growth!
1. Find your village
Have you ever heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? That’s never been truer than with multiple births.
Gather your family and friends, and then gather up your pride and be open to their offers of help. Let them cook meals to put in your freezer. Gratefully accept their offers of baby clothes and nappies. They care about you and truly want to help. It will make them feel great to be part of your journey.
Another fantastic resource is the Australian Multiple Birth Association (AMBA). There are clubs all across Australia. They can help out with the practical side of things; many clubs have breast pumps and double breastfeeding pillows available to hire, as well as a library of books on parenting multiples. They will come and visit you in hospital or at home, there are multiple birth playgroups to attend (even with newborns!), and expectant parent information sessions. They also provide emotional support. Being able to talk to somebody who has been there, done that, is invaluable.
The AMBA Facebook group is a great place to start. They can tell you where your local club is or, if that’s not your thing, let you know of some online support groups you can join.
2. Put your feet up – growing multiple babies is hard work!
You’ll soon find out that a multiple birth pregnancy can be hard on your body. Your belly will grow bigger and faster. You may have more severe morning sickness or exhaustion. It’s all part and parcel of growing more than one baby at a time.
You will have good days and bad days. Enjoy the good days whenever you get them, and do whatever it takes to get through those bad days, work and childcare permitting. Eat whatever you can stomach, within reason – we all want to eat as healthily as possible, but some days you just need salt and vinegar chips to keep the nausea at bay.
Spend a day in bed watching a movie while you still have the attention span to follow along (baby brain is a real thing!). Paint your toenails while you can still reach them. Go away for a weekend with your partner before you get too uncomfortable to enjoy yourself. Life is going to become very hectic soon, so make the most of these last few months of relative peace.
3. Throw your birth plan out the window
Did you dream of giving birth at home? Was it a drug-free water birth you were after? Let go of those ideas and try to open yourself up to new ones. Giving birth to multiples can be a tricky business. Find a care provider that you are comfortable with and trust. Consider the use of a student midwife or doula (ask your hospital about student midwives, or even contact a nearby university – the student midwives would love to work with a multi birth!).
A drug free vaginal birth is definitely not out of the question. Many twins and even triplets have been born this way. What’s pertinent to know is that there are more factors to consider with a multiple birth, many of them out of your control. Keep an open line of communication with your care provider, ask questions, and do your own research. But if it comes to the end and you have a caesarean, remember – that’s okay. You still grew and birthed multiple humans. That’s amazing!
4. Get used to the comments
Oh boy, will there be comments! For some reason, when it comes to pregnancy and babies, privacy seems to go out of the window. You will have strangers asking whether or not they were IVF, or are there multiples in the family? They’ll say things like “Wow I would DIE if I had multiples” or “I wouldn’t cope, good luck”.
Remind yourself that these comments have nothing to do with the blessing that is a multiple birth. These comments are absolutely indicative of how that person feels they would cope (or not cope, as the case may be). Respond to them if you feel up to it (my favourite comeback to “Are they natural?” was “No, they’re tiny little robots”), or just smile politely and yell at them in your head.
People are intrigued by multiple births. People don’t know a lot about multiple births (as evidenced by the “Are your boy and girl identical?” questions you’ll commonly get). Educate them if you want, but remember that you don’t have to. It’s not your job. Your job is to keep yourself and your babies alive and functioning.
5. Enjoy your pregnancy!
Pregnancy can be a miserable time full of nausea, swelling and mind-numbing exhaustion.
But it is also absolutely amazing. You get to enjoy that wonderful feeling of having your babies all to yourself. You can enjoy those kicks, rolls and baby hiccups. You’re in the unique position of being able to feel more than one baby wriggle around at once. Keep a close eye on your ultrasounds – you will see your babies kick each other. The sibling rivalry starts early with womb mates!
Take lots of belly photos. If you know what position your babies are lying in, paint them on your belly for a photo. It can be a great keepsake. Lots of multi birth bellies measure past 40 weeks, so get your belly measured. Knowing that you grew to “46 weeks pregnant” will provide comfort when, after they’re born, you look at the stretch marks and stretched out skin. Your body did something that most people don’t get to experience, so forgive your belly.
Having multiples is an overwhelming, terrifying, wonderful thing. It has all the ups and downs of a rollercoaster, so enjoy this unique, exciting and fulfilling ride!
About the author: Michelle Duncan is mother to a 3 year old girl and 2 year old girl-boy-boy triplets. Currently living just outside of Brisbane, she is a RAAF wife who has lived in many different towns and states over the last seven years. She studies, works part time and in her free time (what’s free time?) loves cooking up a storm and singing loudly (badly) to 90’s pop music.