Carrying two children at the same time can be really hard work. Today guest blogger and North East mum of twin boys, Jo Kemp, explains how carrying her twins is a sling thing!
It was at the 12-week scan that I learned that I was having twins; truthfully this news couldn’t have been further from what I expected!
My first job when leaving university was as a Health Care Assistant in an Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department and I had chaperoned in enough scans to know that it wasn’t always the good news prospective parents hoped for.
In my mind I felt I was getting too old (I was only 37 at the time, but I know that made me ‘an older mother’). I didn’t feel ill enough to be pregnant (didn’t everyone have morning sickness?!) and I was convinced that there would be something wrong.
I didn’t need to worry; I had two healthy heartbeats and the sickness followed not long after! I was warned that I was now classed as ‘High Risk’ and would be monitored every two weeks; my twins were Monochorionic Diamniotic twins, meaning that they shared a placenta and a chorionic sac (the ‘main’ pregnancy sac) but had their own amniotic sacs. In other words, they were identical.
This came with extra risks to some other types of twin pregnancy and I was told to watch for the symptoms of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), where one twin becomes the recipient and one the donor, one taking and one losing out on the goodness from the placenta essentially. So began the job of cooking not one, but two babies and preparing myself mentally and physically for being a first-time mum to twins.
I had questions. I had a lot of questions! I’m still very thankful for the marvellous team at the RVI, including a midwife whose sole responsibility was looking after expectant mums of multiples, and the group of friends I made at our multiples only antenatal classes.
One question that I kept coming back to was, “If someone could tell me just one thing to prepare myself for life with twins, what would it be?”. Looking at the many online blogs, forums and Facebook groups catering to multiple mums I’m not alone in asking this question, but it’s taken me a good while to work out an answer……almost four whole years actually! And it turns out the answer is something that ANY new mother could take on board, not just a new mum to twins.
You can carry your babies, using slings and carriers to keep your hands free, and you can carry them both at the same time!
I dabbled, like many do, and assumed that baby carriers weren’t my thing. I bought a second hand Babasling for £10 from a Facebook selling site, but I could never get it comfortable, get it right. My husband and I then spent AGES going over the shelves at Mothercare, carefully choosing a carrier that might suit us. We chose a Baby Bjorn One.
Truthfully, it suited my husband more than it suited me – I found it uncomfortable but I loved being able to carry (one of) my babies. The day came when something had to give. Something had to change. I set up the buggy to take my two little people from the car to a Sing and Sign baby class.
About 30 seconds walking, but I had two non-walking little people and I couldn’t leave one of them unattended whilst I fetched the other. What was I to do? If I could’ve carried one on my back I could carry the other in my arms but I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to get the Baby Bjorn on to my back. I put it on to the bottom of the buggy and took it into the baby class, then asked around; could anyone help me work it out? Then one mother asked the question; “have you tried going to a sling library?” A sling library?! What was it? How did it work?
Sling libraries and how they work
For the uninitiated, I urge you, GO TO A SLING LIBRARY! They’re GREAT!
So what are they and how do they work?
A Sling Library is a central resource, some run by a trained and insured consultant and others run by well-trained peer supporters, to show you how the carriers work and where you can hire a range of wraps, slings and carriers.
They run sessions in a number of baby friendly venues, where they work on a ‘first come, first served basis’ (be there in good time and be patient!) and, if you feel you need more time or more help, many offer a one to one service where a trained baby-wearing consultant can help you find an option right for you (this is especially useful for carrying multiples!).
Some even offer a postal service, so if you know what you’re after it could be delivered straight to your door! The bonus of hiring is that you can try a number of different carriers; different carriers suit different people. Some love a Tula, some hate them. Some swear by a Connecta, some just can’t get away with them. You need to find what works for you without spending a fortune. It’s also useful to learn how to carry your baby comfortably and safely, for both you and your baby.
Make sure you always follow the TICKS Guidelines –
- T – Tight
- I – In view at all times
- C – Close enough to kiss
- K – Keep chin off chest
- S – Supported back
I started with two Boba carriers and I loved them. I struggled getting the back baby on but it does come with practice! I then came across the TwinGo. What an absolute gem of a product! Made with twin parents in mind they can be used for any age children, up to a combined weight of 70lbs, to tandem carry. I’ve also owned a Scootababy, a Tula, two Connectas, a Pod and a size 6 Firespiral Wrap. It’s safe to say, baby-wearing can be addictive!
The advantages of carrying babies and children, of all ages, are numerous.
For early babies, skin to skin and ‘kangaroo care’ can really help them stabilise their temperatures and can keep them calm and secure. Saying that, skin to skin, and being close to their parents, is hugely beneficial for all babies.
For those newborn days they are a Godsend for that ‘fourth trimester’ when your baby doesn’t want to be put down; feeling the body’s warmth and hearing the heartbeat can be very reassuring.
They’re great for keeping babies suffering from reflux upright, for teething, for poorly little ones, for cuddles and for just being able to get jobs done when your little one wants company or comfort, as well as the obvious of ease of getting about – no worries about waiting for lifts or getting an escalator!
Toddlers often find carriers soothing and calming, particularly when they’re tired or overstimulated; remember YOU are their safe place and being close to you is what they need.
Research has also shown that baby-wearing can help parents become more confident, more able to respond to their baby’s cues and can reduce the incidence of post-natal depression.
My boys are three now and I still carry them. Admittedly not often (they much prefer walking!) and I don’t tandem carry anymore; they’re just too heavy together now! They weigh almost 3 stone each, which only goes to prove that a good carrier that suits you works really well at distributing the weight. Imagine carrying a backpack or giving a piggy-back, but with your hands free.
You should still be comfortable, whatever the weight.
So, if someone ever asked me if I could give them one piece of advice to prepare them for motherhood, it would be go to a sling library. Get prepared, find something that works for you and enjoy that close time with your little ones. After all, they’re only little once.
Some useful links
Find all sling consultants, libraries and meets in your area as well as advice on safe baby-wearing.
For North East friends, this is the library I have used the most. Rachel is knowledgeable and helpful, particularly in helping carry twins. There are other sling libraries in the North East and I’m sure they’re just as helpful, but I can only speak from my experience!
Fabulous customer service for either buying or hiring your slings or carriers. Postal hire available and a TAMBA discount offered for members.