Preparing for the Birth of Your Multiples? Here’s What to Pack

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Posted by vera | Posted in Birth, Parenting, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 23-04-2013

third trimester

While browsing “expecting twins and triplets” online forums and Facebook groups, we’ve seen the same question pop up a few times, regarding what to pack for the hospital, especially for the babies. 

Given that twins often come early, it can be helpful to have your hospital bag packed in advance.  That way, you’ll be ready to go when the time comes.

Below are some ideas about what to pack… 

Consider Both Mom And Babies

A large, comfy nighty and robe are essential items – remember that even once the babies are born, the bulge will hang around for a bit.  Don’t pack your pre-pregnancy sleepwear for this outing!  And if you are planning to breastfeed, remember to pack buttoned shirts or other “easily accessible” clothing.

Toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrush and lipbalm will help make your stay more comfortable.  You’ll also need sanitary napkins, big ones!  (Sorry, ladies, you didn’t think your old friend was gone forever, did you?!)

Chewing gum or mints can help make the early stages of labour more manageable, and your breath more bearable for others, later, if you are having a C-section and just can’t get yourself from your bed to the washroom to brush your teeth that first night or the next morning!

For the babies, consider some small sized sleepers and/or onesies.  Some gentle wipes and several newborn sized diapers will also be a necessity, as most hospitals do not provide these.

paperwork for multiple birthsPaperwork, Paperwork… and More Paperwork

One thing a lot of people forget about is the immense amount of paperwork generated by two, three or more live births.  Each baby needs an application for a birth certificate, health card and SIN (optional).

The hospital can help with a precise list of necessary paperwork for your region. No matter what, be prepared to consume considerable time and ink!

Some forms can be completed online.  Consider having your partner complete some or all of the forms in the hospital, after the babies are born, and before you head home. 

Stamping and pre-addressing envelopes now for forms that need to be mailed off saves time in the hospital, and applications that need to be completed in hard copy can be sent off as soon as they are filled out after the births.

Don’t Forget Your Partner/Labour Coach

Your partner may be spending more time at the hospital than anticipated, so be sure to pack a bottle of water and/or some snacks for him/her as well.  A granola bar can be packed well in advance, and throw a piece of fruit in the bag on your way out the door, too! 

Consider packing change for the vending machine and/or parking meter, so that your partner can take care of those things easily.  

If you are past 26 weeks pregnant with twins, hopefully this blog post has given you a head start as you think about what to prepare for in the weeks ahead. 

A more comprehensive guide to when and what to pack for giving birth to twins, triplets or more at the hospital is included in Class Four of our online prenatal course for multiples

 

Ideas for a Twins Baby Shower

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Posted by vera | Posted in Twin Baby Shower, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 15-04-2013

twins baby showerOur guest blogger today is Charlene from Having Twins and the mother of monozygotic twin girls.

Planning a baby shower twins can be great fun. Here are some awesome ideas for organizing the perfect twin shower.

Twin Shower Theme

Theme ideas for a twin baby shower are endless, from “two peas in a pod” (or three, if it’s a triplets baby shower!) to Dr Seuss’ “Thing One and Thing Two”. Just think about anything in twos, pairs or even things that go together.

You may like to start with what sort of cake you would like then base your theme around that. Many people choose specific colours as part of their theme, and there is no need to stick with traditional “pink” or “baby blue” — get creative!

Gift Ideas

Here are some great gift suggestions for parents expecting twins…

A “diaper cake” is a fun gift, and you can make it yourself. A diaper cake also makes a great center piece for the shower.

In addition to using diapers (which is essential when building a diaper cake), you can include things like:

a)  Twins baby clothing and face cloths.
b)  Treats for mom in the middle of the diaper cake is a really nice surprise. Maybe her favorite chocolates, a voucher for a pregnancy massage, or paid subscription to her favorite magazine.
c)  Baby lotions and soaps.
d)  And top it off with a rattle or booties.

Some other great gifts for the twins parents-to-be depend on how much you want to spend. For instance the bigger ticket items are a great way to help out, like a twin stroller, twin nursing pillow, cribs or car seats. Keep in mind mom(s) or dad(s)-to-be may have preferences, so one idea is to give a voucher; you could even take them shopping.

Things like rompers or sleepers are always a useful item and you can get some really cute ones, even rompers aimed at twins, like “she did it” and “he did it” printed on them.

Games for a Twin Shower

With games at a twin baby shower you can basically twin up any game you want, but here are a couple of ideas for you:

a) Play celebrity twins and match the babies to the celebrity, whether it be just names or by using pictures.
b) A pairing baby socks race, the fastest time wins.
c) Another race, place diapers on twin baby dolls – but you must be blindfolded. 

There are many other things to organize for a twin baby shower, like invitations (which you can decide on based on your theme). Shower favors could be something “paired”, like a pair of earrings. And food can be made all in double like mini double chocolate muffins or two cheeses cheese board.

Whatever your theme, enjoy your twins baby shower, and have fun planning it!

For more twins baby shower ideas from Charlene, check out her girl twin baby shower.

Are Twins Pregnancies Hereditary?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 19-03-2013

DNA renderingAn often asked question when you tell people you are pregnant with twins is “do twins run in your family?” There is a lot of talk about twins “skipping” a generation, and other misconceptions also exist.

As it turns out, dizygotic (or “fraternal”) twins are hereditary, but only on the mother’s side. A genetic trait that tends to cause “hyper-ovulation” (the releasing of multiple eggs per cycle) can be passed from mother to child. Of course, as babycenter.com points out, it’s important to remember that “a man who carries the gene doesn’t have a greater chance of having twins himself because his genes don’t affect his partner’s ovulation.” Hence, it may seem to “skip a generation” when a father passes on his mother’s gene to his daughter. (i.e. “My grandmother had twins, so does that mean I could, too?”)

Some cultural groups seem to have a higher incidence of this genetic trait. For example, dizygotic twinning is quite rare in Asian women, about half the rate of Caucasian women. Women of African origin, meanwhile, have four times the chance of Asian women of conceiving twins! That being said, some twins seem to occur spontaneously, too.

Monozygotic (or “identical”) twins, on the other hand, are NOT hereditary, and occur randomly regardless of age or race.

Artificial reproductive technology (ART) has increased the incidence of both types of twins, though mainly dizygotic twins are more common now, due to an increase in fertility treatments which stimulate the ovaries.

Many of our prenatal class clients past and present are expecting or already parenting both mono- and dizygotic twins, triplets or more due to ART.

Worried About Delivering by C-Section?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 04-03-2013

Man Kissing Woman's BellyOne of the first things many women expecting twins, triplets or more wonder about is whether or not they can have a vaginal birth for their twins. Although triplets are considered by most health care professionals to be a mandatory “section” delivery, it is often possible to deliver at least one if not both babies vaginally in a twins pregnancy.

Benefits of Vaginal Birth

Delivering twins vaginally offers many benefits to both babies and mom. A recent study reported on in the Toronto Star suggests that in addition to previously known benefits such as respiratory development and transfer of antioxidant reserve, delivering vaginally can also positively impact the make-up of gut bacteria in newborns, which is thought, in turn, to benefit overall health.

The trouble is that even with a healthy twins pregnancy, one doesn’t always have as much control over the delivery as one might with a singleton. Although you may initially hope (and your OBGYN plan) for a vaginal delivery of your twins, you will have to prepare yourself for unexpected circumstances which may arise later in the pregnancy.

Preparing for Labour and Delivery

Some expectant couples choose to read and get as much information about their twins or triplets pregnancy as possible, for example, by taking a multiples-specific prenatal course. Preparing in this way can be helpful in knowing what to expect in a variety of circumstances.

It’s also helpful to read carefully and think critically about information given. The study quoted in the article above, for example, is based on a very small sample size (24 babies) from a narrow geographic and cultural focus (Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario). Many other things can affect the overall health of your babies, and unless you read every scrap of research out there, it’s impossible to know all the factors. So if you end up delivering your twins by caesarian section, that doesn’t mean they are doomed to a lifetime of ill health!

Inform yourself, but don’t hang on to predicaments beyond your control. If labour and delivery don’t go as planned, be forgiving of yourself and others involved. The journey is just beginning, and dwelling on one small phase in that journey can be crippling to you as a parent, especially a parent of twins, triplets or more!

twins-playing

Moving from Pregnancy to Parenting

A good multiples-specific prenatal class will walk you not only through your multiples pregnancy, labour and delivery, but will also offer guidance as you consider life with twins, triplets or more in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Parenting multiple birth children is both a rewarding and a challenging endeavour. Doing whatever you can while pregnant with your twins, triplets or quads is important, but sticking with it for the long haul is even more critical.

Lamaze for Twins?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 27-02-2013

family of twinsI recently received an email from someone taking our prenatal course asking about Lamaze for twins.  She was surprised that there was so little emphasis in the course on labour and delivery, and wondered about learning breathing techniques and so on to prepare for childbirth.

Her question caused me to reflect on my own philosophy as a multiple births-specific prenatal instructor, and dig deeper into why I choose to focus on the topics I do in my course.

Child Birth or Prenatal?

The internet is full of information on childbirth and prenatal courses.  What’s the difference, and why does it matter when it comes to preparing for twins, triplets or more?

As the name suggests, “Childbirth Classes” get you ready for, well, “childbirth”.  They may focus very specifically on breathing techniques, as in Lamaze classes, or on coaching through labour (a-la- Bradley method), or they may encompass a little more of the pregnancy and the first few weeks beyond birth.

Prenatal classes, on the other hand, focus more on the pregnancy as a whole, and on things the parent(s)-to-be can do before the birth (“pre-natally”) to prepare for life with a bigger family.

When pregnant with twins, triplets or more, it is important to consider the long-term implications raising multiple birth children, and so a broader perspective can help.

“Child-birth prep” can still be useful in alleviating fears and concerns some women and their partners may have of labour and delivery, but much of this sort of medical, technical information can be found in a good book, and — depending on the circumstances – the birth of your twins or triplets may not go as you had planned.

In my opinion, the birth is only the beginning of this grand adventure, and so a course that helps you to consider the road ahead is ideal.

What Should You Learn in a Twins Prenatal Course?

Port Perry Lamaze in Ontario, Canada, offers this advice to expectant parents looking for prenatal classes in general:

Ask for – and carefully examine – an agenda or course outline.  Look at the topics to be covered.  Some classes jt focus on labour and delivery, while others spend equal time on what happens after the baby is born, such as feeding, diapering, bathing, settling crying babies, caring for the mother immediately after birth, postpartum depression, changes in the family, and other related topics.

twinsSage advice when you consider classes that offer only “Comfort Techniques for Labour” and “Cesarean Birth Class”, as two I found recently on the Internet.

Be sure to check that the prenatal classes you sign up for, especially if you are expecting twins or higher-order multiples, include a wide range of topics that will address the many questions you may already have (or that will arise as the pregnancy progresses)!

Twins Pregnancy and Twins Parenting

A good multiple births-specific prenatal class will allow you to get started as soon as possible (ideally 12 weeks pregnant with twins or sooner, if you already know you are pregnant with twins or triplets). Beginning early will allow you to take advantage of the many things we already know can help foster a healthy twins pregnancy, possibly reducing the chances of pre-term labour and early delivery of your babies.

Becoming knowledgeable about your unique pregnancy early on may also help to alleviate discomfort later on in the pregnancy, and yes, during labour and delivery, too.

Additionally, starting prenatal classes early gives you and your partner plenty of time to prepare mentally for the arrival of two or more babies.  Feeding twins, buying all the gear (do you really need it?  We address this in Class 2 of our course, “Gear and Supplies”, researching twins strollers, considering the social-emotional implications of naming your triplets, joining a multiple births support group so that you can meet other parents of twins, triplets or more… all this will be far more consuming in the long run than the few hours of breathing you may or may not be able to do, depending on the type of delivery you end up having.

Preparing for childbirth is critical, and a good prenatal course will cover this topic, even for twins births.  But preparing for parenting twins, triplets or more is equally important, and a multiples-specific prenatal class will help you and your partner get ready for this joy and challenge!

What Do You Do If You’re Pregnant with Triplets?

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Posted by vera | Posted in Parenting, Triplets, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 15-02-2013

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tripletsMany people who sign up for our multiples-specific, online prenatal course are expecting twins. But what if you are expecting triplets or quadruplets?

If you are pregnant with triplets, then finding high-quality prenatal classes that deal specifically with multiple births pregnancies is even more important.

Most people wait until they are at least 8 weeks pregnant with twins before looking for prenatal classes, and I have had couples contact me as late as 33 or 34 weeks pregnant with twins!

Although the old adage “better late than never” could certainly apply to prenatal classes, in my opinion, sooner is better, especially with triplets. There are many things you can do early on in your pregnancy to increase the chances of a healthy outcome later on, and with a multiples pregnancy, you may not have as much time as you think you do…

Triplets Arrive Early

A full-term singleton pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. Twins born at 37-38 weeks are considered “term”, and according to an article posted on Baby Centre’s website, most triplets are born at 33 weeks gestation (quads often arrive at 29 weeks or before).

Read the rest of this entry »

Pregnant with Twins? You’re Not Alone!

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Posted by vera | Posted in Statistics, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 28-01-2013

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twins statsI remember when my partner and I first got the news that we were pregnant with twins… there were days when we felt lost and overwhelmed, and as if no one else could relate to the challenges we were facing. It was important for us to find other expectant parents of multiples to connect with who were facing the same uncertainties we were. 

If you have recently discovered that you are pregnant with twins or higher-order multiples, it can be very comforting to know that you’re not alone. The number of multiple births have increased dramatically over the last several decades, and around the world, you are in good company!

 

Multiple Births Are On The Rise

• 3.3% of all births each year in Canada and the United States are twins. That’s 137,000 each year in the US, and about 12,000 in Canada. 

• According to U.S. data collected in 2009, the likelihood of becoming pregnant with twins has multiplied by about 75%, when compared to 1980. 

 

What Increases the Chances of Multiple Births?

You guessed it – Age!

Statistically speaking, the odds of having multiples increase dramatically once you’re above the age of 34. 

• For mothers-to-be aged 35 to 39, the likelyhood of having twins increases by 100%.

• Above 40, the chances of having twins increase by a whopping 200%!

A number of theories exist as to why the odds of concieving multiples increase with age. One strongly observed correlation has been made between multiple births and the increasing use of fertility treatments.  According to Barbara Luke, a biology professor at Michigan State University, the increase in twins pregnancies could also be attributed to the use of birth control; apparently the odds of having twins increase from the moment you stop taking “the pill”.

 

The Internet is Buzzing About Twins!

pregnant with twins chart

International queries for the term “pregnant with twins” according to Google Trends (January 28, 2013)

If you do a quick search on Google Trends, you can see that the number of people searching for the phrase “pregnant with twins” has also increased dramatically since 2005.

Searches "pregnant with twins" by Country

Search Queries by Region

When you break the searches down by country, the Republic of South Africa is in the lead.

Right behind them is the U.S. and… Ireland?!

Canada falls to number 7 on the list. 

Keep in mind that these are only search queries, and are only for general interest; you can make your own guesses as to why these countries are in the top three.

 

Connecting with Others

One fun way to get the conversation started with other parents of multiples is to do a quick Twitter search for something like “expecting twins”.

Once you filter through some of the initially superficial chatter, it can be great way to connect with others who are also pregnant with twins or triplets, and make new friends; maybe even in your own city!

Finding the right support early on can change your entire experience during the weeks of pregnancy… and beyond!

Once your babies arrive, you’ll quickly realize how important it is to have a network of people around you who can help. This is only one of the many practical topics we cover in our online prenatal course for multiples. Enroll today!

Sources:

USA Today

Wikipedia

 

Why You Should Write Letters To Your Twins – Before They’re Even Born!

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Posted by vera | Posted in Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 26-01-2013

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Writing a journal while pregnant with twins keeps precious memories you may otherwise lose track ofAlthough I briefly address documenting your journey with twins, triplets or higher-order multiples in a few of the lessons of my twins prenatal class, I’d like to go into more detail in this blog post, especially for parents and expectant parents of multiples who find the more traditional methods unappealing.

If you are not a journaler or a scrap-booker, and you don’t want your pregnant twins’ belly cast or bronzed baby feet hanging from your wall, there are still ways you can make a special keepsake to document the experience of carrying and caring for newborn, preschool, toddler and school-age twins and multiples.

Before I knew I was expecting twins, I was convinced that my one baby was a girl. Although I had tried several times, I am not very good at keeping journals. But since I write fairly well when I have an audience, I began to write “Letters to Maiya”, (which soon became “Letters to Alex and Simon!”)

Periodically, I go back and reread these letters, which I wrote about once every 10 – 14 days from my pregnancy until the boys were about 3 months old.  It is such a wonder – now that I’ve known the recipients for nearly 9 years – to read my thoughts and reflections I had while I was pregnant with them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Feeding Many Mouths

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Posted by vera | Posted in Parenting, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 26-01-2010

Patricia-feeding-4Many expectant POMs wonder how they will breastfeed two or more babies.  Ironically, this important consideration is really only relevant in the intial stages of parenting.  Few consider the longer-term question of how to manage the logistics of multiple feedings once babies are eating solids.  For example, is it okay to use one bowl/spoon, or does each baby need his or her own feeding utensils?  Do you feed one at a time, saving valuable real estate vis-a-vis high chairs, or do you line ’em all up, and shovel the food in simultaneously?

Although there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feed your little ones, it may be helpful to consider some of these questions before your babies get to the solids stage, so that you and your family can think about how best to manage time and space with multiple babies. Read the rest of this entry »

2 Daddies, 4 Babies

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Posted by vera | Posted in Parenting, Twins or Multiple Birth Pregnancy | Posted on 06-01-2010

all-fourIf you are expecting twins, triplets or more, you may be wondering how you will manage multiple babies all by yourself during your maternity or parental leave.  With the advent of non-gender-specific parental leave in many countries, men are availing themselves of the opportunity to spend some or all of the time allotted with their children.

This is particularly true for multiple births families, where the added physical, emotional and financial strain often has parents-to-be considering the “best” option from a variety of angles.  For example, dad’s employer may “top up”, in which case it may be more financially lucrative for mom to continue working while dad stays home with the babies. Read the rest of this entry »