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When should I tell my friends and family and boss that I am having twins?

When should I tell my friends and family that I am having twins? After 12 weeks is a good time to tell them as the risk of vanishing twin syndrome and miscarriage decreases after 12 weeks. Also usually by 12 weeks you can tell if your pregnancy is going to be viable.

However if you’re suffering very badly from morning sickness, or extreme tiredness, you may have to tell them sooner.

When should I tell my boss that I am pregnant with twins? In the UK you must tell your boss you are pregnant ‘at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week the baby is due.’  See https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights

If you’re working in an environment where you’re either expected to stand or sit for long periods of time, do heavy lifting, work with toxic chemicals, or if you have long working hours, you may be able to have your work duties adapted to suit your pregnant state. If your employer is not able to find you alternative lighter duties, you may be suspended on full pay.

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Choosing options for feeding your newborn twins. Breast feeding or Bottle Feeding (or BOTH?!)

Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding?It is normally possible to breastfeed twins and breastfeeding is a relatively cheap option as there is no formula to buy, and unless you choose to express breast milk for your babies to have whilst you’re out,  has comparatively little equipment purchase costs.

Should you choose to breastfeed it is up to you whether you also buy breast pumps, sterilizer, etc now, or wait until after the birth.

Some mums do buy a breast pump, sterilizer, bottles etc before the babies are born whilst others wait. It is entirely up to you what you do.If you plan to bottle feed you will need to buy at least 6 bottles, a bottle brush, formula and a sterilizer.

For more information on Breast Feeding Twins click here

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Preparing your home for the arrival of twins

Before your twins are born you will need to work out where you are planning on feeding your twins both in the day time and at night, and set up a comfortable area to do this both upstairs and downstairs.

You will also need to buy something for them to sleep in such as cots / Moses baskets for night time and bouncy chairs for daytime naps. It is also a good idea to decide whether you would prefer to breastfeed or bottle feed, as the equipment you need differs slightly between the two options.

How you arrange your home largely depends on what space you have available to you and how you currently use it. If you have space in your bedroom, that would be an ideal place to put your twins cot(s) for the first 6 months.

Not everybody has the space to do this unfortunately, so you might have to put them in a spare bedroom. Or you might decide you are going to give them a room each right from the start. If you have a little used room downstairs you could turn it into a daytime nap room / playroom. There are lots of possible options and it really is entirely up to you to figure out how to make your home work to its highest potential.

Do twins simply HAVE to share a cot/ crib? This is a matter of personal preference. Some twins seem to sleep better together, however others are  perfectly content in their own cots/cribs. If you have space for them to have one each and your budget allows you to, buy a cot /crib each. At the end of the day you have to do whatever is right for you and your family. There is no one set one-rule-fits-all policy. From a purely personal point of view I put my twins in separate cots right from the start, and didn’t bother at all with Moses Baskets. I have never had any problems with them settling.  You could potentially put both twins into the same cot at first, leaving one cot downstairs for daytime naps and the other cot upstairs in your room or the nursery. If you do let them share a cot/crib make sure you follow current sleeping safety guidelines, making sure that each child has their feet to the cot bars so they can’t shuffle under the covers and over heat/ suffocate.

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Sex during a multiple pregnancy

Can we continue to have sex during multiple pregnancy?Yes, as long as your health team have not advised you against it for medical reasons. As you grow bigger you will have to be more imaginative with the positions you use in order for it to be comfortable!

 

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Feeling your twin babies move.

When did you feel your twins move for the first time?
When did you feel your twins move for the first time?

Feeling your twin babies move.

When will I feel my twin babies move?

If it is your first pregnancy you might feel them move for the first time from around 17-18 weeks, maybe a little later. If you’ve already had children you might feel them move sooner than this ~ from around 14 weeks. It is not unheard of for you to not feel them move for the first time until 20+ weeks. It can be hard when it says in pregnancy and parenting books that you might feel them move from around 17 weeks but you haven’t felt yours move for the first time until later. If you’re worried at all please contact your midwife for reassurance.

How will I know if what I am feeling is my twin babies moving?

When you feel your babies move for the first time it may feel like a tiny ripple or even a slight touch of wind or perhaps a mildly fizzy feeling. You may at first only feel a gentle fluttering or it might take you a few attempts to realise that what you are feeling is them moving inside you. Eventually it will get more obvious as to what is happening and you might even be able to see the movement as you look at your abdomen. As time goes on the kicks will be more prominent and there’s nothing more rewarding than snuggling up to daddy and allowing him to feel them kick him too. (Why should he miss out on all the ‘fun’? :D)

Their movements may form a pattern, soon you’ll establish what a normal days movements is like for you.

You may also start to notice a pattern emerging. They might have times when they’re awake and active, and other times when they’re less active or you don’t notice their actions so much. Figure out what is ‘normal’ for you and your babies.

I’m not sure if my twin babies are moving or their movements have changed, what should I do?

If you find that you’ve not noticed your babies moving for a little while (especially if you’ve been busy going about your day) you might find it helps to lie down for a short period of time and drink a cold drink and see if that helps. If you don’t start noticing movements after a lie down and a cold drink contact your midwife or delivery suite for advice.

If you notice any changes to the amount or way that your babies are moving or you’ve not felt them move for a while get in touch with your midwife, antenatal clinic or delivery suite.  Sometimes when you notice a change in movements it can be that they’re kicking inwards or lying facing away from your front but it’s important not to assume that this is the case, always get checked out to be on the safe side. It also can mean that the babies are in distress or need help so it’s always important to ring and ask for guidance. Your midwife/ delivery suite may want to get you in for monitoring.

For more information check out this article from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/pi-your-babys-movements-in-pregnancy.pdf

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Twin Pregnancy Symptoms.

Coping with Pregnancy Sickness (Morning Sickness).‘Morning sickness’ as it is often called is something that a lot of mums-to-be suffer from, especially in the first trimester (up to week 12). Unfortunately some mums suffer from it for longer than 12 weeks, and have it at all times of day. Some mums find it is worse on an evening. Some twin mums to be don’t have much morning sickness at all, you might be one of the lucky ones! It’s not a ‘given’ that you will be very sick during your twin pregnancy. Some mums have Hyperemisis Gravidarum (morning sickness that is so severe they cannot keep anything down at all including water. ) If this happens to you, please seek urgent medical advice as you might need to be put on a drip/ other treatment. For further information about Hyperemesis Gravidarum please see http://www.pregnancysicknesssupport.org.uk/help/hyperemesis-gravidarum/

To stave off morning sickness it is essential that you never let yourself get too hungry, as it seems to be associated with feeling hungry.

I know that the very last thing you would feel like doing when you’re feeing very nauseous is to eat something but this is what seems to make it go away. Having something to eat before you get up in a morning also seems to help. If you have a lovely willing and helpful partner you could get him/her to fetch you some breakfast each morning. If your partner is less willing or at work etc you could have something that isn’t perishable by your bed which you could take up the night before. Try having a banana or a couple of ginger biscuits to take the edge off your  hunger long enough to get downstairs to make some cereal (I found instant hot oat cereal, or a ‘wheat biscuit-style’ cereal (the old fashioned type that you put milk on, you know the one I mean!) were the best because they were easy to swallow. I found having breakfast bars in my handbag and  cream crackers on my desk really helped so when I started to feel nauseous I had a couple of crackers or a breakfast bar. Experiment and see what works for you.

Have meals frequently. Small, regular meals seem to be better than having larger meals and long gaps. Schedule in meal/ snack breaks every 3 hours or so during the day. Drink plenty of fluids, water is good or very diluted fruit juices. Some people find caffeine makes them feel more sick. There are caffeine free fruit teas available if you feel like having a hot drink but don’t fancy your usual latte. If you don’t like the taste of water on it’s own, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your glass. Avoid drinking alcohol during your pregnancy.Certain smells can spark off your pregnancy sickness. I found I couldn’t bear the smell of garlic or fried food when I was pregnant with my twins.

Severe Period-like pains in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Some women experience severe period-like pains in the first few weeks of pregnancy, whilst it is important to get checked over to rule out anything more serious, it *could* just be stretching pains/ implantation pain.

Sore Breasts Some women find that their breasts are very sore during the first part of pregnancy and that their breasts swell and enlarge. Try to avoid wearing an under-wired bra as wired bra’s are thought to damage the milk ducts. You may change bra size especially cup size so it is advisable to get properly measured for a maternity bra.

Increased vaginal discharge Some women find that they have an increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy, as long as it is not smelly or itchy or a funny colour, this is perfectly normal. It can be dealt with simply by wearing a pantyliner. If you do notice any changes in your vaginal discharge including colour, smell, or itchiness or if you see blood at all, please consult your medical team at once for advice.

Weepiness / irritability Some mums experience what appear to be very bad PMT symptoms especially during the first trimester (12 wks) This is due to the fluctuations of hormones present in the body. It usually passes but can be hard for everyone. If you feel very down or the symptoms are severe, please see your GP.

Extreme tiredness. In the first and third trimesters you are very likely to feel exhausted. Your body is creating two babies and this in itself uses a lot of energy. You may also be feeling very sick  during the first trimester which again has an exhausting effect on you. Try to rest as much as you can. I know it is hard especially if  understandably you haven’t told your family and friends your news.Try to do the absolute minimum and rest as much as you can. Take short walks each day to keep your circulation going. Keep drinking water. Get plenty of early nights if you can. If you have other children go to bed yourself as soon as you’ve put them to bed. You can watch TV in bed, or read or listen to music or an audio book, or check your social media feed in bed. Or simply sleep.

Constipation It is important to keep your bowels moving when pregnant, so ensure you have a diet which incorporates plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit smoothies, a glass of fruit juice a day, and choose wholemeal bread where possible. You can also increase the fibre content of your diet by eating jacket potatoes, having beans on toast, eating brown rice and wholemeal pasta. You also need to drink plenty of water.  If constipation becomes a problem contact your GP for advice.

Heartburn This can be a problem during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Try eating small, regular meals, drinking plenty of water or milk, eating yoghurt. Some mums’ find that it helps to sleep propped up on pillows. If it is a problem please don’t hesitate to see your GP for advice. For further information and advice about heartburn in pregnancy see http://www.gaviscon.co.uk/pregnancy/index.php

Headaches / Migraine Whilst headaches are quite common in pregnancy and more so in twin pregnancy, it is important to get headaches checked out, especially if they are severe or prolonged. If they are just regular headaches try having something to eat and a glass or two of water. Sometimes they can be related to low blood sugar or mild dehydration. You will know if either of these are the cause because when you’ve had a snack and a drink, they go. If you experience severe or sudden headaches after around 20wks get urgent medical help as it *may* be pre-eclampsia which is potentially life threatening. You are better to get checked out by a professional and be told that you’re fine than miss something vital.

Piles (Haemorrhoids) These can be prevented by having a high fibre diet and drinking plenty of fluids. Try not to strain when using the toilet. Visit your GP for advice.

Insomnia If you find you can’t sleep because your babies seem to know when you’ve sat down and start kicking, try resting more during the day. When you’re rested up they tend to do their moving around during the day! You might find having some warm milk helps to settle you, and a warm bath, some relaxation music etc. Propping your tummy up on pillows can also help.

Increased need to urinate. Most mums find that towards the end of their pregnancy they need to urinate (wee) more. It can feel like your twins are jumping up and down on your bladder! Keep close to a loo if you can, and keep drinking plenty of fluids. Do NOT try to ‘cure’ this by cutting back on your fluid intake. It is dangerous. Keep drinking plenty of water and fruit teas.

Anaemia This is very common in pregnancy. Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness, shortness of breath, feeling faint, pallor, palpitations. It can be prevented by eating a diet rich in iron. Iron can be found naturally in meat, spinach and leafy green vegetables. If you feel weak and tired, consult your GP. He/she may take a blood test for anaemia. Do NOT take over the counter iron tablets, go see your GP who can ensure that the product is at the correct dose and tested for safety in pregnancy.

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How to have a Healthy Twin Pregnancy

• Rest Plenty
• Take regular gentle exercise
• Avoid eating high risk foods
• Eat good quality food that are high in nutrients
• Eat regularly. A little and often seems to work best.
• Drink plenty of water
• Avoid cleaning the cat tray if you possibly can ~ get someone else to do it.
• Relax whenever you can.
• Avoid infectious diseases.
• Delegate some of your usual work load and household tasks to other people.

Eating/ Weight Gain During Twin Pregnancy Should I eat for three?! Alas not. The important thing is to eat nutritionally rich food, making every mouthful count. Having plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, protein rich foods, wholemeal bread sandwiches is vital, as well as drinking plenty of water.

It is a good idea to eat regularly, especially if you’re suffering from morning sickness. I know it doesn’t sound like it would make sense, but the one thing that will stave off morning sickness seems to be having something carbohydrate rich every few hours and never letting yourself get truly hungry.
Great snacks include:  sandwiches on wholemeal bread, pieces of fruit, a yoghurt, slices of malt loaf, pitta bread, vegetable sticks.
Make sure your food is cooked correctly and be extra vigilant with food hygiene. Always wash fruit and vegetables especially if you’re going to eat them raw. Cook eggs, meat, fish and poultry right through. Avoid homemade mayonnaise and mousse recipes.

Foods to avoid in pregnancy: see http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/foods-to-avoid-pregnant.aspx
How much weight should I gain during twin pregnancy? Aim for steady weight gain over the pregnancy. Ideally you should gain about 24lbs in total over the first 24 weeks, then 1.25-1.5lbs a week for the rest of the pregnancy.  If you notice a very sudden weight gain, please inform your health team urgently.

Take Folic Acid for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

Check any medications/ supplements/ vitamins you already take are suitable for pregnancy, including those from your GP and also those bought over the counter. Avoid over the counter regular vitamins as they contain too much vitamin A.

Rest as much as you can. If your twins are your first children, you are likely to be able to get a little more rest after work than you would if you had other children. No matter what your circumstances are, try to rest as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to delegate some of the tasks that you would normally do to someone else.

If you have other children, see if there is any way you could set up a system where you share some of the school and activity runs with another trusted family, so that you can say just take the children to their activity or just pick up rather than having to dash around taking and picking up. (Obviously if it is something that you’re able to stay and watch and you want to, that’s fine) But any times that you don’t need to be present at that particular club, try to find someone else to do it, so you can snatch a few minutes rest. Start this early on, so you get the benefit from it.

Avoid contact with anyone suffering from infectious diseases such as chicken pox or rubella (German measles) influenza, diarrhoea and sickness. Infectious diseases such as chicken pox and rubella can lead to birth defects, so avoid contact.

Do NOT clean your cats tray out yourself unless there really only is you that can do it, if you absolutely HAVE to clean your cats out, please wear gloves and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. This is because in cat faeces (poo) there is a germ called toxoplasmosis which can have severe consequences for your babies including blindness and stillbirth.

Harness Technology! If you’re not already familiar with internet banking, internet grocery shopping and paying bills on-line or by direct debit, now would be a great time to learn. Later in your pregnancy and after the birth you will find it invaluable to be able to buy groceries, pay bills etc without having to leave your sofa!

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Vanishing Twin Syndrome

Some pregnancies start off with two ‘sacs’ but then one of them either gets miscarried or reabsorbed, leaving only one viable foetus. This is known as ‘vanishing twin syndrome.’

It is relatively common and something that is being noticed more these days due to early scanning. If you are told at a very early scan that you are having twins it is very stressful to be told at a later scan that one of them has now vanished.

Can vanishing twin syndrome be prevented? No. There is nothing that you can do to prevent one twin being reabsorbed. It is normally caused by an abnormality.

Vanishing twin syndrome normally occurs in the first trimester, which is why it is a good idea to wait until after the first trimester to tell everyone you’re having twins.

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Twins at School

•Should you keep your twins together at school?
•Would separate classes be better for them?
•What about separate schools?

There are lots of choices facing parents of school age twins. Sometimes the choices are made for you, maybe the school of your choice only has one class per year, (or even one class for infants and another for juniors) solving the dilemma about whether or not to separate twins at school.

School Policy
Some schools have a blanket “one-size-fits-all” twins and multiples policy of either separating twins or keeping them together. If your preferred school has this policy and you don’t agree with it, it is worth booking an appointment to see the head to discuss your twins individual needs. This will give the school opportunity to state why they think their policy is a good idea. It may be that they are willing to negotiate or to offer your twins a trial run of being together/ separate to see how they get on.

It is a good idea to ensure you give your twins enough time to adapt and settle in, so see if they can give it around half a term. I have heard of a case of twins who were separated at school and who hated it for the first few weeks, but got used to it after half a term and when they were later put back in the same class moaned a bucketful as they were more than happy separate!
Sometimes the school is absolutely right, and you find that actually their system works really well even if it wouldn’t have been what you would have picked yourself.

If the school of your choice has more than one class per year group and no particular twins policy the choice whether to keep them together or to separate them is entirely up to you.
When you do have a choice careful consideration should be given as to what would suit the needs of your particular twins. My twins were put in separate classes from Reception (age 4) to year 5 (age 10) which worked well for them. Their school had a system where they were together for some lessons like Numeracy and Literacy and separate the rest of the day. So this was a good compromise. However, your twins have their own individual needs and personalities, and only you know what is likely to suit them best. This could be either putting them in separate classes or keeping them together.

A workable compromise
If you decide you want them to be together but have some time working independently you could speak to their teacher and suggest that they work on different tables or in different groups. This allows them to have some separate time working with other children independently of their twin but with the comfort of knowing that their twin is still within earshot. This can also be a solution in the smaller schools where they have to be in the same class due to the size of the school.

The benefits of having them in separate classes.
Having them in separate classes can mean that each child gets to make their own individual friends and be self-reliant. It also means that they don’t have the opportunity to keep comparing their own progress to that of their twin. However it can lead to only one twin being invited to a birthday party or home for tea which is a mixed blessing, although it can be nice to spend some quality time with just one twin. Often an invite is offered to the other twin once the host parent realizes that you have twins.

The Benefits of Keeping them together.
Keeping twins together can be a comfort for them. It can come in useful as a point of reference especially as they get older and homework is issued. It also means parents evening is less of a nightmare as you have less teachers to see! At the end of the day which ever way you choose should work out really well, and if you find after half a term or more that it isn’t and everyone is unhappy there really is no shame going into school and having a conversation about how to improve the situation.

My twins are very dependent on each other, should I keep them together?
Twins do need to be able to be independent of each other by the time they leave school, they need to be able to stand up for themselves, to work as individuals, to form friendships with others and spend periods of time apart. Obviously it would be a big shock to the system to separate twins who are this used to relying on each other. A kinder solution would be to slowly build up the amount of time they work independently, both in the classroom and at home. Working for short periods in separate groups gradually increasing the amount of time spent separately can help this. They need to feel safe but take tiny steps towards independence.

I want to separate my twins at some point, but when is best?
This depends on your individual twins. Some parents have put their twins in the same class at school for their Reception year then separated them for Year 1 onwards.
Others have had them together up till Juniors then separated them.
My twins were separated in Reception and survived even though I was often told I was a big meanie for doing it so soon. I figured that the sooner I did it the better as what they’d never known they’d never miss! But this isn’t the right answer for everyone’s twins. Y
ou will probably know when is right for your twins, if it happens at all. Some twins stay together throughout their school years and are just fine. Some twins go to separate SCHOOLS and cope just fine, although this seems to be less of a logistical nightmare when they go to High School (age 11+) and can either walk independently to school or take the bus!

One twin is so much brighter than his twin, what should I do?
A good teacher should be able to set work at the correct level for each twin, so this shouldn’t be a problem. It may mean them working on different tables at primary school or being in different sets at high school but with sensitive handling there should be no reason why each twin can’t reach his or her potential.

If it means that one of your twins is clever enough to pass an 11+ exam to get into a traditional Grammar School and the other one isn’t, you have a dilemma. I have heard of twins where only one has got in to Grammar school, and the parents were faced with a tough dilemma as to whether to send the ”clever” one to Grammar and the other one to a regular high school or to send them both to regular high school. Talking this through with both twins separately is a must and only you can come out with a workable solution.

Filling in Application forms for Twin School Admissions.
There should be a section on the application form to state any reasons you want your children to go to that particular school, it is worth mentioning in this section that you have twins (stating the other twins full name) and you want them in the same school (unless you would prefer they were separate) If you have sent your twins to school outside your normal school catchment area because you want your twins in separate classes it would be worth mentioning here too.

If you don’t get your twins into the school you prefer or only one gets into your first choice you have the right to appeal. State clearly your reasons for choosing the school and reiterate that you need both twins in the same school for logistical reasons (unless the two schools are next door to each other and dropping off and picking up are not going to cause too many problems.) Good Luck!

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Top Tips for Coping with Newborn Twins

•Newborn Twins need feeding approximately every 2-4 hours round the
clock for the first few weeks.
•If they’re still asleep after 4 hours, wake them up and give them a feed! This stops them getting too tired to feed. Once they get a bit older you can stop doing this and let them sleep through.
•Newborns may sleep for up to 16 hours throughout the day.
•Nappy changing can be done before a feed, after a feed or in the middle of a feed if they’ve fallen asleep before having enough milk.
•Feeding them together saves time, but can take a bit of practice. It is handy to be able to feed them together but it’s also nice to be able to cuddle up to each of them and give them a feed on their own sometimes too.
•For information on Breastfeeding Twins click here. 
•Bottle Feeding. Latest thought is that you should make up bottles as you go along rather than making a batch and popping them in the fridge to reheat later as mums traditionally have done.
•Here is what the NHS say about making formula.
•It is possible to bottle feed your twins together, use pillows to support them. Experiment with positions until you find one that works for you or put them in their bouncy chairs and sit between them, holding their bottles. Never leave a baby unattended with bottles.

•‘As a new parent you will be bombarded with so much information and advice. The best advice has to be ‘ Listen to all the advice and then hand-pick the bits that make the most sense to you, and discard the rest’ At the end of the day you are the parent, you know what is best for your child. It is essential that you learn to read your child. Remember that every child is different and what works for one baby might not work for another one, even with twins!’ ~ © Sarah. Founder of Twinsonline

•Any Questions? If you have any questions regarding Breast or Bottle Feeding, or Coping with Newborn Twins please either email sarah@twinsonline.org.uk or ask a question on the Facebook Page. If you wish to do so anonymously please send a PM (inbox) on Facebook.

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