Before you get too far along in your pregnancy, we recommend that you take some time to consider the following:
1) A good way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by what may happen on the big day of your babies’ arrival is to develop a birthing plan for your babies. Here is a link to a birthing plan designed specifically for parents of twins and multiples. You need not be as specific, but it is worthwhile to consider what you would like your delivery and postpartum experience (and that of your babies) to look like in advance of your hospital stay. You should communicate these plans, hopes and expectations to your doctors. Talk to your doctors about what your vaginal or c-section delivery may look like and what a NICU stay would entail should your babies need to be admitted.
2) You may want to schedule help for the postpartum period. Consider having family or friends help with caring for older children or for the babies. Ask family if they would be willing to help with other household tasks such as meal preparation, laundry or cleaning. CareCalendar.org is a great, free web-based system for friends and family to help you organize meals and other tasks.
3) If you are employed, review your employer’s maternity leave policy and determine whether written notification is necessary. Due to the high risk nature of all multiples pregnancies, you will want to be aware of what your options are not only for leave, but also frequent doctor appointments and the possibility of bed rest.
4) If you are going back to work after your babies’ birth, consider your child care options. Below are questions to consider when interviewing child care providers.
5) Check out the community education classes your hospital offers on birthing, baby basics, infant CPR, and breastfeeding. Also ask how to set up a tour of labor and delivery while you are there!
6) Create your registry and get their nursery ready! There are plenty of web sites with registry recommendations for multiples. Here is one example and you can find plenty more online. Talk to your mentor mom to gather their recommendations or survey the entire BPOTMC group by sending out your questions on the listserv! You will be incredibly busy once you bring babies home, so try to stock up on the necessities and have your babies’ room(s) ready well in advance.
7) Find a good lactation consultant if you’re interested in breast-feeding. Breast-feeding is tricky for plenty of new moms, and it can be even tougher with more than one mouth to feed. Most hospitals have lactation consultants, but they may not be able to spend much time with a new mom. A good resource is the Lexington chapter of La Leche League.
8) Get your babies’ car seats installed by your local fire department. Operation “Safe Seat,” a division of the Lexington Fire Department, will install your car seats for you at no charge. Contact (859) 455-7328 and leave a message. Someone will call you back with an appointment at your local firehouse.
9) Babyproof your home. Parents.com has a series of articles and tips on how to make your home safe for your infant, crawler, toddler and beyond.
10) Be aware of the signs of perinatal mood disorders (anxiety, depression, OCD, panic, and/or psychosis both during and after pregnancy). According to the Centers for Disease Control, 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If you settled on an average of 15% of four million live births in the US annually, this would mean at least 600,000 women get PPD each year. A 2009 Pediatrics study found that mothers of multiples are at a 43% greater risk than the general mother population of developing a perinatal mood disorder. Postpartumprogress.com discusses perinatal mood disorders in “plain, mama English.” Knowing these signs will empower you to readily get help for you and your babies. Some of our BPOTMC moms have experienced perinatal mood disorders and are more than willing to support you in your recovery.
11) Research and select your babies’ pediatrician. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
12) If you have an older child, prepare him or her for the babies’ transition home. KidsHealth.com has some great suggestions for parents on how to prepare a child for new siblings. Enroll your child in a big sister/brother program at your hospital. Talk your child about his/her first few weeks, reviewing photos together. Perhaps add some decorations to your child’s room while preparing the nursery, so that he/she also feels special. Your hands will be full with two babies, so it is a good idea to stock the pantry and refrigerator with easy to reach snacks for your preschooler. Talk to your friends and family about how they can help you make special time for your child once babies come home.