Postpartum Self Care

How to Build a Strong Support System Before Your Twins’ Arrival

When it comes to having twins, we are told that we will need all the baby gear and every extra pair of hands we can get.

But… we are never taught how to ask for help. Culturally we value independence over interdependence, privacy over community.

All of these values have a place. But when it comes to raising children, being our own island as parents serves no one. Not our kids, not our communities, and especially not ourselves.

Too often, new parents of multiples find themselves isolated at home in a sea of swings, bouncers, dishes, and laundry.

And somehow, even though the sink is overflowing and the washing machine never stops running, no one in the family ever feels satiated or clean. Well, maybe the babies do!

Believe me, I know how hard it is to ask for help. There is shame. There is guilt. There is fear of stepping on toes or coming across as bossy.

And we want to do this ourselves! We want to know that we can manage our own families. That is valid.

Here’s the thing, though. Human beings are social creatures. We have made it this far because we learned how to help each other out.

That means that we have to learn to accept support just as readily as we give it to others.

As a new mom, I wasn’t great at this. Throughout my first year of motherhood, I got mastitis five times — not fun at all. Every single time it was a result of refusing to slow down.

Don’t be as hard-headed as I was. No one is giving out medals for ‘Mom Who Refuses The Most Help.’

Let your loved ones fold your laundry. Let your neighbors bring you a meal. Let your people be involved.

Our friends and family truly want to help. And if they don’t or can’t, they won’t!

Think of bringing home your babies as a barn raising. The only difference is — you, your partner, and your babies ARE the barn. Let your community lift you up.

So take the plunge. Take this opportunity to practice being vulnerable.

Your babies need both of their parents to focus on healing and bonding. It doesn’t matter if you ‘can’ do it alone.

Get real with yourself and envision what you truly want your first few weeks of parenthood to look like. What would it take to make that happen?

What would it take to avoid rushing off to eat straight out of the fridge the second you finally get both babies to sleep?

What would it take to not touch a vacuum until your twins are a couple months old?

Planning ahead helps make your transition to parenthood as smooth as possible. So much about becoming a parent — especially to multiples! — is completely beyond our control. But this part isn’t.

Building up your support system before you give birth allows you to maximize the amount of time and energy you can give to your babies once they arrive.

Let’s explore different ideas for how to get the support you need in your babies’ early weeks of life.

Ask for what you need! Your family deserves it.

01 // Start a Meal Train

No matter how your birth story unfolds, you will need nourishing meals to heal. Shopping, preparing, and cleaning up are some of the last things you’ll want to worry about when you finally meet your sweet babies.

Enter the ingenious meal train. Local friends can take turns dropping off food to ensure that you and your partner are well-fed while you learn to care for your newborns. You can set this up yourself, or have a trusted friend spearhead the task.

There are a few websites that help make this process a smooth one. TakeThemAMeal.com is one of the oldest, tried and true sites that offers the basics to get you set up.

I love how this site makes asking for meal support so simple. Just create a free profile, note when and where you want meals delivered to, and add a list of recipients. People can choose one or several slots to bring you a meal. TakeThemAMeal.com will send invitations and reminders to your list for you. They even have an option to deliver meals for those who aren’t local.

Check out this post for more information on organizing a successful meal train.

02 // Create a Phone Tree

When it’s time to have your babies, a lot of people in your community will be waiting on the edges of their seats to hear from you.

Rather than calling or texting each person individually, consider setting up a phone tree. This is a great way to simplify the process of spreading the good news while preserving those precious first hours with your babies.

There are a few ways to do this, but here are the basics: make a list of all the people you want to notify, along with their phone numbers. Choose the first 1-3 people you or your partner want to call yourselves, then assign each of them 1-2 people they are responsible for calling or texting. Repeat this process until everyone on your list is covered.

Another alternative is to split this task between those you wish to find out via phone call, and those who you’d prefer to notify via text. Use the same process to create your (smaller) call tree, then delegate a trusted friend or relative to send out a group text to the other recipients. Just make sure they remind folks that you aren’t ready to respond to calls and texts just yet. You’ll be too busy soaking up your little miracles to check your phone for a while!

Of course, social media is quick way to handle breaking the news. But for those who aren’t ready to post about their babies online yet, or who want a more personal touch for their close friends and family, a phone tree is super helpful.

03 // Stagger Overnight Visitors

If you’re lucky enough to have been offered long term help from multiple family members, make sure there’s not too much overlap.

While this can be difficult to plan, as you don’t know exactly when your babies will arrive or if they’ll spend any time at the NICU, try to get a general plan in order beforehand.

Don’t be afraid to be straight up as you do this. Sometimes our loved ones will all want to “vie for first dibs” in order to be there right when you bring babies through the front door for the first time.

Show your appreciation, but be clear that you’ll only be able to handle a certain number of visitors at a time. Believe me, when you’re healing from birthing twins and getting intimate with the definition of sleep deprivation, keeping visitors to a steady minimum is key. This will ensure that no one will be sitting around idle and making you feel like you need to entertain.

04 // Schedule Local Support

Spontaneous drop-ins are tough with new babies.

If a friend reaches out to you last minute and you’re feeling good about having company, by all means say yes!

As a new mom, it meant the world to me when a dear friend would visit twice a week after dropping her son off at preschool. She would often arrive with a coffee and pastry for both my husband and I, which was pure magic.

Think of ways your community can drop by in an intentional manner. Can your co-worker leave for work an hour early once a week and come load your dishwasher or make you tea? Can your neighbor swing by every other day to help hold the babies so you can shower?

In the same vein, don’t be afraid to postpone if someone asks to come over and you’re not feeling it. Sometimes, you just gotta hang out half-dressed in your living room with your babies and soak in the calm.

Setting boundaries around visitors allows you to get the support you need while preventing you from stretching yourself too thin.

05 // Hire a Postpartum Doula

There are a lot of misconceptions about doulas out there. While a birth doula focuses on supporting you through labor and birth, she’ll likely check in on you only once or twice after your babies are born.

On the other hand, a postpartum doula’s entire job is to nurture you and your partner after you give birth. She can provide you with unbiased, evidence-based and hands-on support to ensure that you are thriving as a new mom.

Postpartum doulas fill a much-needed gap in our maternity care system, which far too often neglects the immediate needs of new families in their first weeks together.

According to CAPPA, a leading certification organization for doulas and other childbirth professionals, some of the ways a postpartum doula may support you include:

  • Provide non-biased emotional, physical, and informational support during the postpartum period
  • Encourage the family to seek care that reflects their values and needs
  • Models and teaches effective communication
  • Encourage informed decision making
  • Support the physical and emotional healing of the mother
  • Provide information on care options and resources for the mother and newborn
  • Support and assists with infant feeding
  • Educate the family on newborn care and characteristics
  • Provide support to the new mother’s partner and/or family
  • Assist with household organization
  • Refer to healthcare professionals when support requires clinical assessment, a need for prescription, or medical diagnosis

Read more about finding and hiring a postpartum doula.

06 // Join your local MoM group

Lots of people are lucky enough to be parents. But not that many are lucky enough to parent multiples!

Bringing home one baby turns life upside down. Bringing home two or more can feel like spinning on your head!

The only people that truly get it are those who have been there.

Thankfully, many cities and towns have thriving Mothers of Multiples clubs that interact both in person and online.

Visit MothersOfMultiples.com to see if your area has a chapter. If not, you could start one! Joining a MoM group during pregnancy is a great way to connect with other moms. Many chapters help organize volunteer support for new parents of multiples, too.

These mamas are often a year or more into their parenting journey and are more than happy to help out a newbie. Our babies grow up so fast, and getting to snuggle new baby twins again is truly a gift to other mamas who offer to visit with you.

MoM groups are fantastic resources in other ways as well. Most have bi-annual rummage sales, which are awesome events where you can score reasonably priced clothes and gear. Many groups have regular ‘Mom’s Night Out’ traditions and monthly family get togethers, too.

Join your local MoM group and make some new friends who appreciate the lovely chaos of raising multiples!

07 // Join Online Twin Parenting Groups

Community is everything. Having real-life support is essential, but online camaraderie is great, too.

Supportive online communities are good places for finding advice, but where they really shine is in providing social support. Being part of a network of twin moms who cheer each other on makes even the toughest days as a new parent more hopeful.

Just be sure you only engage with online groups that foster encouragement and positivity. Luckily, most moms of multiples have no time or desire to judge other parents.

As of June 2018, some of my favorite online groups are:

08 // Hire a Cleaning Service

Even if you’ve never had someone else clean your house before, consider hiring a housekeeper when your twins are born. Once a week in the first few months would be ideal, but even a one-time visit makes a huge difference.

My favorite way to give to my new mama friends is to sneak into their house (with their permission, of course!) while they’re still at the hospital recovering from childbirth, and clean their house top to bottom.

Coming home for the first time together as a family should be a celebration. You should feel relaxed when you step in the door.

Registering for a housecleaning service is a fantastic option for those who can’t afford it otherwise. Maybe a few relatives can even go in on it together.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of settling into the couch to snuggle your babies for the first time — and your house is spotlessly clean and fresh.

Trust me, you will not want to trade that feeling for the extra pack and play or high-tech diaper pail!

Babylist is a fantastic resource for registering for housekeeping services, along with everything else you’ll need as a new parent. Check out this post to learn more about why I highly recommend creating a registry with Babylist.

09 // Have a List of People to Call or Text

No matter how much help you have lined up, there will be moments when you are alone with your babies. And generally, the more help you support in the beginning, the easier this transition will be.

At any rate, it’s important to have people to lean on — no matter the time of day or night. Maybe you’re braving the first full day after your partner goes back to work. Or totally out of ideas on how to help ease the afternoon witching hour. Knowing that your friends and family have your back is essential.

Sometimes all it takes to brighten a tough day is admitting it. Texting a mom friend at 11pm and saying how scared you are for the long night of teething ahead. Calling your mom in the morning for a quick check-in before you dive into your day with two infants.

Having people to ask advice from and vent to is such good medicine. We are not meant to ride this parenting journey alone!

10 // Have Visuals for Visitors

The importance of being supported when you bring your babies home cannot be overstated. But that doesn’t mean you should just accept every offer you get.

You might have a great lineup of relatives coming to visit, but if they don’t know what you need, it can quickly turn into having to entertain instead of being cared for.

Most of the time when this happens, it’s not that people don’t want to help, it’s just that they don’t know how.

It’s hard to communicate about our needs. It can feel too scary to be so open and vulnerable, and quite often we end up talking ourselves out of it and just managing without.

Even if you set an intention to ask for what you need, sometimes those early days of parenthood leave us too foggy and overwhelmed with emotion to communicate our needs clearly.

One way to skip past all of this and to ensure you get what you need as a brand new mama is to have visuals for your guests. Take away the mystery and write down what you need.

Remind people to wash their hands when they arrive to meet your babies. Keep a running grocery list posted on the fridge. Cover the doorbell and ask people to text you or knock softly in case babies are sleeping.

A scene I see so often when visiting new parents is an overflowing trash or recycling bin. With brand new babies who don’t care whatsoever what day of the week it is, it’s a miracle to remember to bring the bins down to the curb on pickup day. Why not post a reminder so visitors can help solve this one for you? It’s a seemingly small favor that can help tremendously.

Download this free printable of ways visitors can help out after your babies arrive! 

You’ve got this, mama!

Your community wants to see you thrive as a new mother. Start reaching out to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors now to let them know how they can be involved. Use this list as a starting point. What other ways can you ask to be supported as you become a twin mama? Let us know what you’re planning in the comments. If you’re already through the newborn phase, comment with what helped you the most in the early days with your babies!

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