I cried when we left the hospital.
I was so afraid to go home with two babies and get back to real life where I had to cook, clean and care for two little ones. I was right to be afraid.
Our postpartum time was filled with so much chaos, crying and sleep deprivation.
We opened two businesses and had twins in the same year. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.
Five years later, we survived the fevers, the crying, the sleep training, the potty training and feeding them with only one experience of Mario choking on ice.
So, I’d love to share with you what I would do differently if I were to raise twins all over again.
#1 Ask for Help
I found it very hard to ask for help. I was a strong, independent woman and didn’t realize it’s ok to ask for help. Although friends and family are very busy, they want to help. I’m forever grateful to those who made us meals, held a baby for just a moment and ran after baby a, while I ran in the other direction for baby b. Thank you.
#2 Take supplements
I was so against supplements before giving birth. I wanted everything natural and thought I could get my vitamins and minerals from my food. I suffered from digestion problems, so taking anything scared me as I didn’t know enough. I feared taking anything at all that it may disrupt my digestion more. What I know now, is I lost a lot of blood giving birth, and it’s a traumatic, stressful event, the body needs more support. Postpartum women need iron, vitamins, digestive enzymes, EFA’s and probiotics to restore their gastrointestinal flora. Next time I would take supplements, especially magnesium to release the stress and tension!
Essential fatty acid supplementation (1-3 g/day combined EPA and DHA) and adequate cold water fish consumption during pregnancy and during the postpartum period may prevent or alleviate postpartum depression. ¹
#3 Improve my diet
The first six weeks were all about survival. Whatever you made me, I ate it. I woke up to coffee and had wine to wind down at night. The excessive caffeine contributed to my insomnia and created a terrible daily routine of anxiety. Next time, I would wake up with hot water and lemon and eat oatmeal to aid my digestion. I’d skip the caffeine, chocolate, and coffee.
#4 Skip the wine & beer
I found myself drinking Guinness as it was supposed to increase my milk supply. I would have a glass of wine or a drink to take the pain away in the evening. My body ached from sleeping just two hours most nights, and I was numbing the pain with alcohol. It didn’t help. It created anxiety and insomnia that lasted months. I’d skip the alcohol and drink herbal teas of chamomile, lavender, and stinging nettles.
#5 Take adaptogens sooner
Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help you adapt to stress. At the time of my children’s birth in 2013, I studied herbs for over six years but what I was not taking was adaptogens; like Ashwagandha or Reishi mushrooms. These herbs help the body modulate stress, reduce anxiety and ease insomnia. Ashwagandha, motherwort, and nettles are considered a L1 in the risk category for lactation risk.² For a list of herbs to avoid while breastfeeding see Kelly Mom’s website.
#6 Meet with a pelvic floor physical therapist
My six-week postpartum visit to the doctor was a disappointment. I asked her if I had a diastasis recti or a prolapse. She insisted everything was “fine.” I didn’t feel fine. It turns out I did have both. Meeting with a pelvic floor physiotherapist would have confirmed my biggest worries and eased some anxiety about my body. Locally, we love Dr. Ashely Hocutt. See her website here.
#7 Had my thyroid checked
Your thyroid can become hyperthyroid two to four months after birth and then hypothyroid for two to eight weeks. I treated my self for hyperthyroid with botanicals, but I would have loved to have a proper diagnosis. Dr. Aviva Romm discuss’s your postpartum thyroid here.
#8 Waited to go back to work
In most cultures, the new mom is encouraged to rest for forty days. The family helps with food and caring for the newborn. The mom is invited to sleep and relax. Again, this was not my experience. The worries of the new business, the stress of not sleeping and the never-ending crying of babies was exhausting. If I were to do it again, I would have planned better to be able to step away from my business and ask for help.
#9 Moved in with my parents
I joke about this, but it’s the truth. Raising twins is hard. Very hard. Living with family would have helped immensely. End of story.
#10 Hire a postpartum doula
Postpartum doulas are known as the “must haves” accessory for new moms. They help new moms with the caring of the child so that would we can trust our inner momma instincts. They also may help with light housekeeping and meal preparation. I breastfed both of my kids for three weeks, and then I looked in the mirror and thought, I am never going to get out of the house if this doesn’t change. That night at 3:00 am I ordered formula and The Baby Whisperer on my phone. The next day Mario ate 5oz. of formula and slept seven hours! I would have loved for someone to tell me it’s ok to give your kids formula! Katherine Whiteside runs a free infant support group at the local libraries. Sign up for the Linda’s Ladies breastfeeding support group for postpartum questions and support.
If you are in the “thick of it” and your babies are young. Don’t worry, it will get easier.
I hope some of these tips help you survive the chaos of raising little ones.
¹Romm, Aiva; Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health
²Hale, Thomas; Medications and mothers milk 2017