Who to Talk To
When it comes to parenting multiples, you need more than "What to Expect When You're Expecting." You need other parents of multiples to tell you exactly what's coming down the pike.
Luckily, parents of multiples often like to stick together. Nonprofit organizations such as the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs and Mothers of Supertwins (MOST) will tell you what you want to know about everything from birth statistics to naming the babies. Even better for the parent-to-be who might be feeling a little lost, there are online forums as well as local support groups that they can hook you up with. When asked what he wished people had told him about preparing for multiples, father of twins Jonah Keri responded immediately with, "Twin clubs." As he pointed out, "There are logistical issues that people with singletons just can't explain."
It isn't just parents who need education. Obstetricians do, too. In the experience of Keri and his partner, "Most regular OBs are not equipped to handle a birth of multiples. Many OBs have assumptions that are based on low-risk singleton pregnancies."
A woman pregnant with multiples may want to see a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, or perinatologist. In addition to four years of residency in obstetrics, perinatologists complete two to three years of additional education in complicated pregnancies. When it comes to a high-risk pregnancy, bring in the star player.
To get ready for life with babies after delivery, find a good lactation consultant if you're interested in breast-feeding. Breast-feeding is tricky for plenty of new moms, and it can be even tougher with more than one mouth to feed. Most hospitals have lactation consultants, but they may not be able to spend much time with a new mom. Keri recommends, "Don't be afraid to reject someone who's not helping you, and be sure to keep searching until you find one who meets your needs."
Pumping is a good way to keep your milk supply built up if your babies are premature -- you may not be able to breast-feed them right away. It's also an option for women who can't or don't want to breast-feed. Formula feeding and supplementing are also totally fine. As Terry said, "Some people will make you feel like you're the worst mother ever if you don't breastfeed, but that's ridiculous. Do your best."