The first in my guest blog series is all about the postpartum experience with twins written by therapist and twin mom, Lindsey Lowrance. Enjoy!
It’s Twins! (Gulp, Faint, Whaa?) Here’s What You Need to Know
What’s different about having twins?
While helping twin moms go from drained and distracted to powerful and fulfilled, I’ve learned that there are some things that are very different for parents of twins and multiples. I’m a twin mom myself and can also speak from personal experience. The question on everyone’s mind when this comes up is ‘what’s the difference?’ Isn’t it just an extra baby in the mix?
Actually, there’s a lot more to it than that. When one parent is on their own with both babies (whether this is running an errand or staying at home while the other parent works), they are outnumbered and often overwhelmed. Many moms of twins stress that they can’t do all the bonding activities that moms of single babies do, partially because of logistics and partially because there is so much extra work and attention that needs to be divided. Can you imagine taking two babies to a Mommy and Me class?
Logistics are one of the hardest obstacles new parents of twins have to conquer. Here are some examples: how will I get both babies in and out of the car at the same time? How will I feed both babies at the same time (or do I feed them one at a time while the second one screams impatiently and this doubles the time it takes me at each feeding)? What if I’m out in public and they both are crying- how can I help them both at the same time without an extra set of hands? Will people think I’m a bad parent because I don’t have time to shower or get dressed for the day and my babies keep crying while I take care of one and then the other back and forth in a frenzy?
Many moms of twins can feel envious of other moms that get to peacefully hold and rock just one baby the whole time they are in public, or gaze lovingly into their baby’s eyes without having any distractions (like a twin baby needing mom’s attention). First time parents usually try hard to do everything perfectly according to their parenting plans and ideals, but with twin parents they often have to quickly throw out any ideas of perfection, timeliness or organization and learn to accept the chaos.
Don’t get me wrong, having twins is something so special and magical in its own way. While we often hear what is hard about it, there are so many wonderful things too like twins being best friends, or having a unique bond from the get-go. I’m happy to be a part of the twin community because I get a front row seat at the cool twin life and to witness their incredible relationships. I wouldn’t change it for the world! But there certainly are differences and challenges that are worth hearing about so you know that you aren’t alone.
What’s Different About Postpartum with Twins?
Newborns take a lot of work and it can be stressful adjusting to huge life changes like this.
Parents with newborn twins are usually in survival mode, chugging away at tasks day and night to keep those little babies fed, clean, and healthy. Many couples assume it will be miserable the first 6 months or so because they’ve been warned that the first 6 months (or year) of having twins will be SO HARD. Parents of multiples also sometimes hear that the divorce rates are higher and that raising twins/ multiples is very tough on relationships.
It doesn’t HAVE to be miserable! Yes- it’s a lot of work and so many things change, but having twins CAN be wonderful in its own right.
What many parents of twins/ multiples don’t realize is that postpartum mood disorders are actually more common given all the stress and financial strains of having more than one newborn. Postpartum depression/anxiety tends to happen in the midst of chaos and sleep deprivation that it can be hard to notice that you are not dealing with the “normal” amount of stress. Let’s face it, it’s hard to know exactly what is normal when managing two or more babies at once!
How can we tell when we are dealing with a ‘normal’ and expected amount of stress or when there is something more going on?
While pregnant, we all imagine having these wonderful, magical bonding moments with our new babies and soaking it all in. We dream happily of the beautiful connection that moms have with their new babies and all the adorable little baby toes and fingers.
What if you don’t get those magical moments with your newborns? What if it’s all hard work and you don’t feel those happy, blissful moments when the babies are here?
It turns out that postpartum mood disorders (depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD) are all too common in the twin world, but we don’t really talk about it. Twin parents (yes partners too) are at a much higher risk of having a mood disorder in that first year. Why is that?
When having twins or triplets, there are some extra stressors that a couple deals with that put them at higher risk of postpartum moods.
· Financial strain (2 babies equals 2 of everything, not to mention daycare costs and hospital bills)
· Extra hormones from pregnancy & postpartum due to physically carrying more than one baby (Yes, your body is impacted more and has an increase in hormones and blood flow than a woman carrying one baby)
· Extra stress! (It’s not just twice as much work, it’s the lack of breaks/ rest and being out-numbered when one parent goes to work or runs errands)
· Little to no support from family or friends (it’s hard to keep in touch when you’re run ragged on baby tasks and little sleep. Unfortunately, many don’t have family nearby and can’t afford to hire help, which leaves them really strained to do it all without help)
· Many parents of multiples experienced infertility or complications with pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding (When there are 2 babies the pregnancy gets more complicated and is treated as high risk. Birth can feel like it’s totally out of your control when medical teams decide what’s best and take charge.)
Each of these factors increase your chance of having depression, anxiety, or other impacts on your mood.
Baby Blues: The first 4 weeks after giving birth, it is completely normal to have extreme emotions and hormonal mood swings because your body is going through major changes. Any woman going through the intensity of hormone changes in her body will have some adjustment period. It is not necessarily depression or anxiety. If it continues, then it can be helpful to check in on how you’re really doing.
Did you Know:
· If you have ever experienced depression, anxiety or any mental health issue before pregnancy that you have a much higher chance of developing postpartum (or prenatal) mood disorders?
· High risk pregnancies, pregnancy complications, NICU time, and problems with breastfeeding can lead to more struggles with mood?
· Perfectionists &/or people with high expectations are more likely to suffer?
Here is a checklist of some common things to look for so that you know if your struggles cross the point of needing something more.
Checklist for Postpartum (or during pregnancy) Mood Issues:
o Zoned out or distant
o Irritated very easily
o Overwhelmed most of the time
o Not feeling connected to kids/babies, partner
o Feel like you’re just barely surviving day to day
o Worried about _____ most days or for long periods of time
o Fighting with your partner more than usual
o Yelling at your kids often
o Feeling like a failure
o So much guilt!
o It’s hard to be around other people
o Not interested in things you usually enjoy
o Scared that something bad will happen to your babies
o Trouble sleeping even when the babies are sleeping
Checked a couple things on the list? It may be time to talk with your doctor, OBGYN/ midwife, or call a therapist to figure out how to make things better.
You CAN feel good while surviving the chaos of newborn twins, and you CAN enjoy moments with them and feel like yourself! It’s a big adjustment Momma, and you may need some extra support. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Brought to you by twin mom & maternal mental health specialist Lindsey Lowrance at Twin Mom Power. Lindsey is passionate about helping twin moms Go from Drained & Distracted to Powerful & Fulfilled! For more information & resources on surviving & thriving the twin life go to: www.lindseycounseling.com or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 720-243-3993