Just get over the shock that you’re having twins, and a little stressed with all you need to do? You’re never totally prepared for the circus of being a twinmom, but these are the five best tips for how to prepare for twins.
I remember when the ultrasound tech said “there are two in there!” I was not prepared. As much as I suspected I was having twins, it is still a shock to have it confirmed. I didn’t know how to prepare for twins, but figured it out along the way. These are the five most important things that helped me learn how to prepare for twins.
Know What Kind of Twins You are Having and What That Means
I was surprised that while I was pregnant with my twins, many moms were kind of clueless on the ins and outs of having twins. Doctors don’t always educate soon-to-be twinmoms about the types of twins there are and why that matters. If you haven’t been through it before you might not know what to even ask.
For example, are your twins di/di, mo/di, or mo/mo? Do you know which of these are guaranteed to be identical? Are di/di twins always fraternal, or are some identical?
What do those types of twins mean for your pregnancy and birth?
Each of the three types of twins have different risks associated, and that may create complications for your pregnancy or birth. It may also limit your birth plans and what your doctor or midwives may be comfortable with as far as your hopes for your birth go.
Do your own research, talk to other twin moms, and of course consult with your medical professionals about how to prepare for twins. But for a quick run down on the types of twins, these are the basics.
Identical vs. Fraternal Twins
There are two ways to become pregnant with twins. One is for one egg to fertilized and then split into two. This how identical twins are formed. Fraternal twins are formed when two eggs are dropped during ovulation and both are fertilized.
So identical twins come from the same egg, creating the same DNA, while fraternal twins were always two separate eggs and do not share DNA anymore than singleton siblings.
Dichorionic Diamniotic (di/di twins)
Di/di twins are do not share a placenta or an amniotic sac. While most di/di twins are fraternal, 30% are idential, but a myth that a lot of doctors and parents still believe is that all di/di twins are fraternal. This is not true, and I should know because I have di/di twins who are confirmed identical with genetic testing!
While twin pregnancies are somewhat riskier than singletons, di/di twins pose the least amount of risks during pregnancy compared to other types of twins.
Monochorionic Diamniotic (mo/di twins)
Mo/di twins share a placenta, but do not share an amniotic sac. Mo/di twins are all identical, but sometimes di/di twins will appear as mo/di because their separate placentas fuse together appearing as one.
The biggest risk during a mo/di pregnancy is Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). This is when there is an imbalance in the amount of blood each twin is receiving. One is getting too much, and one not enough. Most mo/di pregnancies are not complicated, but this is a risk that doctors will be keeping an eye out for.
Monochorionic Monoamniotic (mo/mo twins)
Mo/mo twins share a placenta and an amniotic sac, and are identical. This type of twin pregnancy is the most complicated and poses the most risks. Besides TTTS there are complications that could arise from the twins sharing an amniotic sac like cord entanglements, low amniotic fluid, and premature birth, among other more rare issues. If you’re concerned talk to your doctor about these risks and how to prepare for twins, but they should already be looking for them.
Do You Need Two of Everything?
Maybe, but probably not.
You can forgo doubling up on most things when it comes to twins beyond the obvious, like car seats, diapers and clothes. Two high chairs also comes in super handy for feedings once they start solids.
The rest of how to prepare for twins and what to buy will depend on how you intend to parent.
For example, if you are bottle-feeding with either formula or pumped breastmilk, then it might be worth it for you to go ahead and invest in double the bottles. However, if you are planning to exclusively (or nearly) breastfeed then you’ll probably just need a few spare bottles around just in case.
For all major purchases though, I would wait until the twins are actually here to decide what you might need double up. You might buy two swings or two bouncy seats only to find out that only one or neither twin likes them!
When it comes to cribs, bassinets, and other sleep surfaces, the next point will need to be answered first, and how to prepare for twins sleep.
Where Will They Sleep?
Will they sleep in one crib together? Will each have their own space? Or do you plan to bed share? (Check this out to learn how to safely share sleep with your babies.)
There isn’t one right way to do it, and different babies and parents will have different needs. Some babies like the comfort of being as close as possible, while others need some space and can’t sleep due to their dad’s snoring. (Seriously this has happened.)
We chose to bedshare with all of our kids so far. It wasn’t what I planned to do, but after much research, it actually was the safest option statistically for our family.
When my boys were tiny I had a crib side-carred to the bed. It was nice because they were super close for night feedings, but we all had our own sleep space for comfort. Now that they are toddlers we all just share a queen-sized floor bed. My husband and 4-year-old are next to us in a king-sized mattress pushed right up against our mattress.
Some people would scoff at our setup, but it works really well for us. Other families choose to have the babies in separate cribs from the start.
Planning for a Good Routine/Schedule
Schedules and routines are essential to think about with how to prepare for twins. The best thing I ever did as a twin mom was to make sure my twins were on the same schedule. I do not enforce a strict schedule, but rather watch their cues and gently encourage them to get onto the same schedule.
They do of course get off their schedules from time to time, but really being mindful of keeping them as in sync as possible at the beginning will help your sanity so much!
The only thing I really did to promote them being on the same schedule was to always feed them together. I knew my babies’ cues for hunger, and when one seemed hungry I would offer milk to both of them even if the other seemed content. They almost always both ended up having milk, even if only one showed the cues.
It was really only a matter of days then that they got onto the same schedule and routine.
Even when they were sleeping, if one woke to feed at night, I would wake both to feed for the first few weeks. Though they were never fully awake, just enough to get them to latch on and start eating.
My twins fed every three hours give or take around the clock. So just getting them to eat at the same time was enough to then have them follow a similar routine during those three-hour blocks. This isn’t something you can do ahead of time for how to prepare for twins, but keep it in mind.
Just Shoot for Survival
It’s hectic. Having twins is so rewarding, but it is also pretty hard. Here’s the thing though, you will rise to the challenge. Sure there are days when you don’t know how you’ll make it because there is not enough coffee this side of the Mississippi to keep you awake… but somehow you’ll do it.
It’s like riding a bike. One day you realize no one is holding onto you for support, but you’re still doing it! You find your rhythms, routines, and personal twinmom hacks. (And definitely become familiar with baby developmental leaps!)
My twins are currently 22 months old, and the closer they get to two, the easier things become. Sure we have tantrums and whatnot to deal with now, but that pure survival mode is a rare occurrence nowadays.
I still can’t go to Target without at least one comment on how I have my hands full, but instead of resenting that comment, I now feel kind of proud when people say that. My hands are full, but I’m still holding it all together.
Being a twinmom will stretch you and challenge you, but you can do it mama.
When it comes to how to prepare for twins, know that no matter what you won’t be fully prepared, but you already have all you need if you’re reading this article; a willingness to learn! Become bff’s with Google, find some great twin mom groups, and of course consult experts as needed.
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