Coping with multiples
While welcoming multiples to your family can be incredibly special, coping with more than one baby is a uniquely challenging experience. If you’re sleep-deprived, torn between the needs of different babies, struggling with breastfeeding, isolation and have no time for self-care, then you’re not alone.
A rollercoaster of emotions – extreme sadness, feeling incompetent, feeling stupid, crying all the time, feeling unable to settle my babies, frustration, guilt, unhappy, empty.
I was still so shocked about having twins: it was hard to come to terms with it, even after the birth.
Challenges when caring for multiples
Leaving hospital without your babies
While you might have been prepared for the possibility of your babies needing time in the SCU or NICU, the reality of being discharged from hospital without your babies, or without some of your babies, can be a shock.
Some parents of multiples describe initially finding it easier to bond with one or more of their babies. This may be due to having different temperaments, or one baby requiring more time in hospital. Try not to worry – all relationships take time to develop.
I struggled to connect with one of my babies. Not having wanted multiples from the start I was overwhelmed with two.
Breastfeeding multiple babies can be stressful and exhausting. Establishing a feeding routine can take time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and remember it’s OK to bottle feed if you need to.
Struggling so much with feeding also felt like failing.
Leaving the house with more than one baby can be overwhelming. This can compound the loneliness and feelings of isolation common in early motherhood. Connecting with other parents who’ve experienced the same challenges can help. The Australian Multiple Birth Association has clubs around the country where you can connect with other families of multiples both in person and virtually.
I had anxieties about leaving the house alone with the twins so I didn’t go out much and made me feel lonely and isolated.
While many couples struggle with the adjustment to parenthood, the stress of having multiple babies can take its toll on a relationship.
We argue a lot more, we’re both so tired and so stressed. We don’t get any time alone anymore and it’s just so hard. I hate the way I look so I don’t like him seeing me anymore.
For some couples, however, there were a sense that working as a team brought them closer together.
We only had each other, so we relied on each other in ways we never have before. It continues to this day. We are more in sync than ever before, and we are an incredible team.
Having seen my wife go through what she did has given me a great admiration and appreciation of her.
Mental health problems in parents of multiples
- More fragmented sleep
- Relationships stress and high rates of divorce
- Financial strain (often due to delayed return to work)
- Higher caretaking demands of multiple babies
- Increased perinatal medical complications
- Difficulty establishing breastfeeding
I couldn’t relate to any of my friends or even those in Mother Groups as I had multiples and I felt no one could fully understand. I was diagnosed with Depression/Anxiety and Agoraphobia and was scared to leave the house with the kids.
Tips from multiple parents
Seek help. “Ask for it and be strict on what you need and want.”
Join a local multiple birth club and seek out advice from other parents of multiples.
Talk to your partner regularly. “Work on your communication before the babies arrive.”
“Accept that strangers will always feel the need to comment on your twins.”
- Get family to cook and freeze dinners. “Say no to visitors that you need to clean the house for. Be prepared for opinions and then to advocate because you do know what it best. Your babies will love you no matter how they are fed and no matter how long they need to be in NICU or SC.”
- Don’t compare yourself to others with singletons – it’s a completely different experience!
I won’t sugar coat it. It is hard. It is challenging. There are times it feels unfair because if you had a single baby these challenges wouldn’t be there. People won’t always understand or relate. BUT it is so so worth it. The bond they have is amazing. And you are doubly blessed watching their milestones. I always say full hands fuller hearts. It’s so true.