The First Year is Survival
The Essential Guide to Parenting Twins & Multiples by Leonie Huie
Being a mother has its challenges and whether you have one baby, twins, triplets or more, we all have one thing in common—sleep deprivation—especially in the first year. This is something I battled with in my first year as a mother of twins. Let’s be honest, finding out you are expecting twins can be really exciting, as well as frightening at the same time; the mixed emotions are surprisingly overwhelming. But ultimately I was left feeling blessed that I had been given such a gift, after all, it’s not every day a woman finds she’s expecting two!
In my book, ‘The First Year Is Survival,’ I talk about my experiences as a new mum of twin girls and include experiences from other parents of multiples from around the world who have provided useful tips and advice on how best to survive this first year including themes such as sleep deprivation, getting organised, anxiety, depression, returning to work and date night.
There are a number of areas to focus on and consider before your newborns arrive: getting organised, the impact of sleep deprivation, and understanding the potential of anxiety and post-natal depression. One of the first things I did when I found out I was having twins reorganise my home to accommodate my new arrivals. I discussed with my husband what I wanted to change and I could tell from his facial expression that he knew he had a mammoth task on his hands! I was one of those mums who went into complete ‘nesting’ mode, there was so much going on in my head at once, I’m surprised it didn’t explode!
Planning and preparing for your twins’ arrival can start as soon as you find out about your pregnancy – in the early stages you need to try to focus on resting as much as you can. I recommend writing a list of things you need – try dividing your list into sections so it’s not overwhelming.
Items you may wish to purchase for twins including clothing, furniture and home decorations (paint/wallpaper/new blinds!). During pregnancy I know many mums are still working, which can be pretty challenging, as pregnancy weight gains can cause problems such as backache, swelling, tiredness, breathlessness, the list goes on… all of which then slows you down from completing all the tasks you need to before the twins arrive! That’s why having a list that you can tick off as you go along is so important. The last thing mummy needs to be doing at eight months pregnant is moving furniture, painting or reorganising the home!
When organising your home, it’s a good idea to have a cupboard or area you can easily access – so make sure it’ll be where you envisage spending the most time with your newborns. You want to have easy access to the changing area, clothes and nappies that you’ll need. This also includes feeding time and resting time, and might I add again, please do rest as much as you possibly can. I remember I made the mistake of trying to tidy up, prepare feeds, cook, clean when I should have been resting. I learned the hard way as the sleep deprivation was unreal because my daughters did not sleep and feed at the same time. One had health issues to begin with too, so I struggled.
Another very important aspect of surviving the first year of parenting twins is protecting your mental health. Post-natal depression and anxiety are two common mental health issues women can experience after giving birth. Some women end up going undiagnosed, like I did, with PND because I thought the way I was feeling was down to being a new parent of multiples and a lack of sleep. How wrong I was! Some of you may have heard of the ‘baby blues,’ which commonly lasts up to two weeks after giving birth; leaving you feeling tearful for no reason, emotional, irritable or depressed. If this feeling persists after two weeks you should seek medical advice from you GP or health visitor. Try not to keep how you are feeling to yourself: tell your partner, a friend or someone you can confide in because PND is treatable.
The same applies with anxiety, something plenty of mums and dads experience during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. I also had anxiety and had counselling to help me cope, which was very hard for me at first but the sessions really helped me use different tools such as breathing techniques and meditation. I needed tools to help me cope with the constant worrying I was doing throughout my pregnancy and the first year of parenting. Once again, this kind of anxiety can be helped and eased, and you should seek medical advice from a professional. It’s so important for new parents to know they’re now alone, particularly when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Many parents feel this is “just” a part of parenthood but there is a big difference between overwhelm and constant fear of getting things wrong as a parent and that is where the professionals can help you differentiate between the two. There is also a lot of support available provided by organisations such as NCT, Twinstrust and Mind to help you cope with many different aspects of parenting twins and ways to survive the first year. Remember, this period of time will pass – it won’t be like this forever!
If you would like to find out more about the author, Leonie Huie, you can visit www.empowerme.london
We’re also delighted to have a copy of ‘The First Year is Survival’ to give away courtesy of Literally PR. More details can be found on our Competitions Page.