How doulas support twins, triplets and multiples

by Brood

 

Since we are in the business of “dealing doulas”, we recommend every parent-to-be have one! We know that’s not always possible, but the benefits of having a doula have been proven over and over again. If you’re expecting multiples (twins, triplets, or more!) you probably already know you’re going to want all the support you can possibly get, and a doula is an incredible resource you should consider to be a part of your care team. 

If you don’t already know what a doula is, at Brood we define doulas as specialized care workers who support birthing people and their families with continuous physical, emotional, and informational support. Doulas are proven to positively affect the outcomes for both birthing person and baby—leading to reduction in pain medication, postpartum depression and anxiety. For families with multiples, doulas are incredible support postpartum with sleep, feeding, hands on and relational care. If you want to learn more about doulas, head to this post.

Having a birth and postpartum doula, especially when expecting multiples is incredible, as they offer ongoing, personalized support and have a lot of experience. With multiples you are pretty much guaranteed to be overwhelmed, especially if these are your first babies. Doulas will support you in understanding the differences between singletons and multiples, in crafting a unique plan, preparing your community and then being there with you in your postpartum period—every step of the way. Brood doulas Lolo Chaumont and co-founder Emma Devin have lots of experience with twin and multiples families – Emma also has 5 year old twins in their family structure (find them in those post!). They know first-hand that parents to twins (and more) experience unique challenges in pregnancy, birth and postpartum—from high risk pregnancy and more limits on birthing choices, to increased likelihood of prematurity, NICU time, and health complications, to doubling up on everything postnatally. Your journey may begin with more worry and concern, and an overwhelming amount of information and education compared to singleton pregnancies. Imagine having someone by your side to guide you through these experiences, creating a sense of calm and confidence ahead of your new arrivals?! It is possible, and you deserve it. These types of investments in your care and support can have long lasting effects, setting you and your family up for years to come.

What Brood doulas Emma and Lolo want to share with all families expecting multiples:

“I wish they could know that not all of their agency gets taken away. There’s a really unhelpful rhetoric around multiples being scary and sad. While there are moments like that, there’s also genuine joy, magic, and creativity in being a multiples parent that you don’t get as a singleton parent!

Finding local parents of multiples can provide role models and validation from lived expertise. It shows the variety of possibilities within multiples parenting! Connecting to that community can bring beauty, strength, and power to your parenting journey. Many singleton parents and random strangers may say annoying or harmful things, but an awesome community of multiple parents can counter that.” – Emma

Lolo shares: “There’s just so much baby, and yes it’s a great challenge but it’s such an amazing explosion of love in your life. Lean on any support you have access to—when help is offered, accept it and if it isn’t offered, ask for it!”

What are the different kinds of twins and multiple pregnancies? 

In the realm of multiple births, a diverse array of combinations exists, ranging from identical twins, which result from a single fertilized egg splitting into two embryos, to fraternal twins, born from the fertilization of two separate eggs by separate sperm cells. Mirror image twins, a subtype of identical twins, display mirrored physical features due to a late-stage split in embryonic development.

Monoamniotic twins share the same amniotic sac and placenta, posing unique pregnancy risks, while diamniotic twins each have their own sac and placenta, the most common type of twin pregnancy.

Triplets and higher-order multiples arise when multiple eggs are fertilized during one menstrual cycle, potentially leading to fraternal, identical, or mixed combinations.

Conjoined twins occur when embryos fail to separate completely, resulting in twins physically connected at birth.

Each type of multiple birth carries its own characteristics and challenges, highlighting the complexity and diversity within this fascinating phenomenon. Interested in learning about how IVF and other fertility treatments affect your chances of having multiples? Read more here!

What are the unique challenges a parent of multiples might face in pregnancy and postpartum?

This isn’t meant to be scary, because we truly believe that multiples are MAGIC and with the right education, support and planning, you and your family can thrive in each and every stage of parenting. We also want to arm you with the evidence-based facts, as twins and multiples do come with some unique challenges, and the more you’re prepared, the more confident you’ll feel. These include:

Higher Risk: Multiple and twin pregnancies are more prone to complications like preterm birth, low birth weight, and gestational diabetes, requiring closer monitoring and medical attention from an experienced care team. With the right care team, you’ll be in great hands.

Physical Strain: Carrying twins or more can lead to increased fatigue, discomfort, and mobility issues as the pregnancy progresses. You’ll need lots of rest and ways to find extra comfort during your pregnancy.

Emotional Load: Raising multiples can evoke anxiety and stress about logistics, finances, and meeting the needs of two babies simultaneously. Finding the right education, support groups and other multiples parents, as an example, is crucial in feeling supported. 

Postpartum Demands: Limited sleep, constant care, and doubled up duties like feeding can leave parents exhausted and struggling to find time for themselves. Having extra hands and a community will be so important during this period.

Financial Pressures: Raising multiples means doubling up on some essentials and many expenses, straining the family budget and requiring careful planning and budgeting. Knowing where you can be budget conscious, finding gently used baby items and creative ways to plan ahead will go a long way.

Support Needs: Being parents of multiples may feel isolating and overwhelming without a strong support network to assist with childcare, appointments, and household tasks. Finding people confident enough to support you with your multiples can be challenging, but with the right plan prenatally, you can set you and your kids up to have an engaged and helpful community of care.

Why should I hire a doula if I’m expecting twins or multiples?

Now, picture this: two tiny humans (or three, or four) demanding your attention simultaneously. It’s enough to make even the most seasoned parent break a sweat. This is where having a doula becomes an absolute game-changer. Many doulas have experience with multiples which means they have the cheat code to things like tandem feeding, sleep support, baby wearing and more. And if the lists above didn’t inspire you to call us, here are just some of the benefits of having a birth and postpartum doula for twins and multiples:

Emotional Support: The unique challenges of caring for multiples can be a recipe for stress overload. A doula provides a steady anchor offering a listening ear, reassurance, and validation when you need it most. Whether you’re navigating the uncertainties of a high-risk pregnancy or feeling overwhelmed by the demands of your newborns, your doula is there to lift you up and remind you that you’ve got this.

Advocacy and Empowerment: When you’re knee-deep in the trenches of newborn care, it’s easy to feel like your voice gets lost in the shuffle. But fear not, because your doula is your fiercest advocate. Whether it’s creating a birth plan and then advocating for your birth preferences in the delivery room or ensuring that your postpartum needs are met with compassion and respect, your doula is there to champion your rights and ensure that your voice is heard. You’ll feel empowered to make informed decisions that align with your values and preferences, every step of the way.

Practical Education and Wisdom: When you’re juggling multiple tiny humans, practical advice is worth its weight in gold. From mastering the art of tandem feeding to establishing a synchronized sleep schedule, your doula is a treasure trove of tips and tricks to make life with twins or multiples a little bit easier. Need help figuring out the logistics of double strollers or twin feeding pillows? Your doula has got you covered. 

Feeding Support: Let’s talk about feeding. With multiple mouths to feed, it’s easy to feel like you’re in over your head (or chest). That’s where your doula swoops in with expert guidance and support. Whether you’re navigating the ins and outs of nursing, pumping, or formula feeding, your doula is there to lend a helping hand and to figure out what’s going to work best for you and your babies. They’ll provide practical tips for successful nursing sessions, help troubleshoot any challenges you encounter, and offer unwavering encouragement. With their expertise by your side, you’ll feel confident and empowered to nourish your babies the way you want to. 

Sleep Support: Every parent’s elusive dream. When you’re tending to the needs of twins or multiples, getting a good night’s rest can feel impossible, even when you have more than one parent on board for those hourly ups and downs. Your doula is here to help you reclaim those precious zzz’s. Whether you’re struggling to establish a bedtime routine or grappling with sleep regressions, your doula will work with you to develop strategies for promoting healthy sleep habits and maximizing rest for the whole family. From soothing techniques to personalized sleep plans, they’ll provide the support and guidance you need to navigate the sleep-deprived haze of early parenthood with grace and resilience. Doulas also do overnight shifts (also known as a night nurse) so they can prioritize your sleep and manage the soothing of your babies in between feeds. A question we often get as doulas about multiples and sleep is, can they share a bed? Doulas can help with bed and sleep safety. Need we see more?

Tag Team Support: With twins or multiples, there’s no such thing as too much help. Your doula is like your partner in crime, ready to step in and lend a hand whenever you need it. Whether it’s taking turns soothing fussy babies in the middle of the night or providing much-needed respite so you can grab a shower or a nap, your doula is there to share the load and lighten the burden. From meal prep, home tidying or washing bottles, your doula will feel like another set of (very experienced) hands to support the whole family. And let’s not forget about the power of moral support during those marathon feeding sessions or endless diaper changes. They can also offer suggestions and connect you with other parents and community resources that you can look into when you feel more resourced.

So, the bottom line is that if you can, hiring a doula can provide invaluable, personalized twin and multiples support. From navigating the unique challenges you’ll face, to helping you sift through education and resources, offering practical guidance and advocacy during labor and postpartum, to lending a helping hand with home tidying, sleep, cooking and baby care, a doula’s expertise can make a significant difference. With their knowledge and dedication to your well-being, a doula will help you feel more confident, empowered, and supported. So, if you’re expecting twins or more, consider adding a doula to your team for that extra peace of mind. Get in touch with our amazing care team today.

Still not sure about hiring a doula as part of your care team? Take a look at what twin parent Amelia had to say:

“I will tell anyone who will listen to get a postpartum doula (especially for twins) and pray they have the good fortune to land with someone as compassionate, smart, creative, professional and devoted as Emma. Hands down, our beginning months with our twins would have been an entirely different picture had we not engaged them. Without their steady presence in my fourth trimester my attachment with my babies would not have been so deep, my mental health would not have been as strong and my marriage would not be so intact. It was important to have someone who wasn’t related to me to be there. They never judged, they always validated me and they worked with me to get creative as all the many challenges of breastfeeding twins arose. Cash in those RRSPs, sell your fancy road bikes, dip into your savings, take out little loan. TWIN PARENTS NEED POSTPARTUM DOULAS.” – Amelia

 

Download our Twins & Triplets Cheat Sheet

As you may well know by now, expecting twins is its own rodeo in the world of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. This guide was created with doula knowledge, and support from some Brood twin families – sharing their priceless insight!

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