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Expecting Twins

Identical Twins

Identical twins are always the same sex. During conception they begin as a single egg that is fertilised in the usual way by a single sperm, but at the start of the cell division, this egg splits exactly in half, and each of these halves develop into a separate baby. Even though they have an identical genetic formation, they can look surprisingly different at birth, with one being slightly larger than the other. This is due to one of them feeding more efficiently from the placenta, thus gaining more nourishment.

Fraternal Twins

Fraternal twins can be of the same or differing sex. This takes place when two eggs are each fertilised by a different sperm in the same monthly cycle, this means that they will be non-identical. Fraternal twins will not share a placenta, but if they are lying very close together, it may look like they are identical on the scan.

Your chances of conceiving twins is much higher if:

Bringing the Twins Home

If your babies' were born pre-term or suffered additional complications, the hospital may want them to spend some time in a specialized unit, where they will be able to receive 24 hour medical care. This, although may seem unfair at the time, is quite a blessing, as it offers the fatigued mother time to recuperate and boost her confidence with the help of trained medical staff. Once they are healthy and of a desired weight, the time will come for you to be able to take them home. This can be quite frightening at first and you will probably be wondering whether you will ever learn to cope, doing two things at once. Try to arrange for someone to help out in the early days, as it will be hard work, but try and relax, as there is no doubt that you will cope.

Weight Gain

As with all mothers, feeding and weight gain is likely to be a hot topic of discussion, wondering if her baby is gaining the weight it should. This is particularly true of mothers who have twins, especially if they weighed very little at birth. Unfortunately there is little available information as to what is regarded 'normal' in the case of twins, so it is recommended that you visit your clinic as often as possible, asking any questions that may hound you.

Most twins are of a low Birth-weight and their need to gain weight is much higher than that of a single baby, this probably explains why they feed so frequently in the early months. Their weight gain will be gradual, and how long it takes them to reach the desired weight depends entirely on how premature they were at birth.

Sleeping

The feeding of twins is probably the biggest difficulty in this situation, with lack of sleep being a very close second. The combination of lack of sleep and lengthy feeds, is most likely going to leave you feeling totally washed-out, with a sense of inadequacy of not being able to cope with what is promoted as a glamorous image in any woman's life, creating images of how things ought to be. When you fail to meet up to the expectations of these notions, you become totally despondent, without realising that the fault doesn't actually lie with you. Constant hard work and lack of sleep intensifies these feelings, and only you as a mother of twins, will realise the importance of receiving adequate rest during the night to be able to cope with the daily care that is needed by the babies each day.

First and foremost, do not try and set unreasonable limits for yourself. You are unique and have accomplished a miracle by just being able to bring two beautiful new creations into the world, so before creating an emotional battlefield within yourself, try some reasoning, by praising yourself for how wonderfully you are managing, for a person coping under these difficult and trying times.

Secondly, bear in mind that this stage will pass, although it may be almost impossible to believe at the time, especially if this is your first attempt at motherhood. Your babies will eventually settle into a sleeping routine, but at what stage, depends on how premature they were at birth. Premature babies will for quite some time require frequent feeding during the night, and may take a little longer at establishing a suitable routine, where they wake less frequently during the night.

Bathing

During the early months, before your babies are able to safely sit on their own, you may find that bathing is a very time consuming task, that may become quite monotonous, considering the fact that only one can be bathed at a time. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as a general wipe-over will still keep baby smelling like roses, with the 'full bath' being left for days when you have added help. As the twins get older, it will be easy enough for you to be able to let them bath in the same bath, however, care should be taken in not leaving one twin unattended while dressing the other.

Clothing

Clothing twins is an expensive yet important matter, as every mother wants their child to be beautifully dressed, even more so in the case of twins, where they are likely to be viewed by every passing eye. Dressing twins identically may seem like a natural thing to do, and this can be fine while they are still very young. However as they grow older, it is important for each child to retain a separate identity, and this can be difficult if they are constantly seen as 'one'. Many parents decide to offer the children a choice as they get older, but this has it's downfalls, as they may by this stage be so used to dressing alike that they find it difficult to change. So to encourage each child's individuality, it is better to save identical dressing for special occasions and allow them to dress differently most other times.

Nappies

Being a mother of twins, you will realise that 'free-time', has definitely become something of the past, so to lessen your workload, you may just want to consider the use of disposable nappies. It may however be far cheaper for you to use towelling nappies, but then one has to consider all the extras, such as nappy liners, waterproof pants and the extra laundry that are all required for this choice. Combining the use of both types are usually the easiest - using towelling nappies during the day and disposable’s at night or vice versa. Buying in bulk should also be considered, as this will save you a trip to the shop and ensure that you don't run out at the most inopportune of moments. In the case of twins, asking for disposable nappies as a gift, opposed to other baby paraphernalia, can offer a great saving to the family budget.

Development

The speed at which premature babies develop, may seem somewhat slower than that of a full-term baby. Slower growth and development is normal for twins, so expect your darlings to reach their milestones a little later in life. They will at one point or another catch-up to their peers, with there being little difference between them and their classmates, once they reach school-going age.

Your twins development will not only differ from that of other children, but even from one another, in the case of non-identical twins. Identical twins will most probably develop at the same rate to one another, while non-identical twins, especially those of differing sexes will develop at different rates throughout childhood. In the early stages, one twin may already be walking while the other is still trying to master crawling. Girls often grow more rapidly, with boys only fully catching up, somewhere in adolescence.

Toilet Training

Teaching two young children the art of bladder control can, if attempted at too young an age be a nightmare for both mother and child. For children to become fully toilet trained they must have gained sufficient control of the muscles concerned and this ability takes physical maturation, just as learning to ride a bike does.
Children, especially those of differing sexes, will progress at their own speed, and you may find that one masters the technique well before the other. This however doesn't suggest that the issue should be forced on the slower twin - rather praise each for their individual efforts. The fact remains though, that as their mother, you will have to make the decision as to if you feel they are ready for toilet training, or if you are prepared to leave it for another couple of months.

Individuality

When there is more than one child per family, the children have to share parental attention, with each child inevitably receiving less. Although, where the children are of different ages, the individuality of each child is accentuated, through the different activities each child is allowed to share with their parents. Thus in this respect, each child has somewhat a totally separate life to that of her brothers or sisters.

In the case of twins, where the children are of the same age and often the same sex, it may be quite difficult to treat each child as an individual. Many parents, without actually realising it, go on to treat their twins as a pair, instead of two children, who may have very different needs. Getting to know each child is of great importance for you to be able to recognise the differences in their temperaments and the activities they prefer.

The Secret Bond they Share

Twins share a special closeness - something that other siblings fail to have. This strong tie between one another, can at times create a barrier between 'outsiders' and themselves, and through this mutual awareness, never feel the need to have the companionship of anybody other than just the two of them. The emotional security they derive from each other, can be very beneficial to both parents and twins in their early years, especially when encountered by new situations, and not having to face them alone.

As twins start to mature they will strive for individual attention, and because they are often so alike, may find it difficult to differ their attention seeking strategies. This competition can develop into a love/hate relationship, where they feel somewhat trapped, yet eager to become a single person, who receives individual stimulation, discipline and love. In this case, many twins reject one another through showing totally opposite traits - if for example one twin is extremely extroverted, always chatting away and seeking social acceptance, the other may seem somewhat shy and subdued. So it is for this exact reason that you cater for the individual needs of each child, by offering each quality time, spent alone with you.

School

One method of allowing your twins to develop separate identities, is by placing them in different classes at school. This allows each child to form his own friendships and excel at his own pace, without the pressure of the other twin. At first they may both resist this suggestion, especially seeing that beforehand they have almost always spent every waking hour in the company of one another. Educating them together may seem like the natural thing to do, and even the staff may seem a little puzzled at your suggestion, so it is important that you express your concern of wanting each child to be treated as an individual and not as a pair.

Older Siblings

Your other children may feel resentful towards the twins, who seem to take up much of your time, especially if they are sickly or extremely demanding. This change in routine from only to older child, may take some time getting used to, and the older child may show signs of feeling a little rejected at the thought of being somewhat 'left-out' of the special relationship the twins share. In some cases, with the arrival of a new baby, the older child may show signs of acting quite grown-up and will relish at the idea of being 'Big Boy', or he may go to the other extreme of becoming baby-like in an attempt to gain your full attention. This is quite a common change seen in most children, with the arrival of a new baby, and doesn't just happen in the case of twins. To make matters easier on yourself and your family, it is vital that you understand that he was the first on the scene and there was never any reason why he had to compete and share your love. So be sure to offer him the same amount of care and stimulation that he has become accustomed to, even if this means, enlisting the help of others to aid in the care of the twins in the early months.