The First Year With Multiples: 5 Unique Challenges

Sometimes, a little advice from those who've "been there, done that" is just the thing you need to survive it yourself! Here, moms of multiples offer tried and true solutions to several unique challenges of life with infant twins, triplets or more.

Challenge No. 1: Postpartum Recovery

"Many mothers of multiples need physical therapy after delivery, and some may even need additional therapies or surgeries in order for their bodies to heal," says Maureen Doolan Boyle, a mother of triplets and executive director of MOST (Mothers of Supertwins) Inc., an international support network for families of multiples. "You also have to appreciate the possibility of postpartum depression. It's exceptionally high in moms of multiples."

What can you do to facilitate a smooth recovery? Make your health just as much a priority as the health of your babies. Force yourself to take every available opportunity to sleep — extreme exhaustion is dangerous to your physical and emotional well-being. Also keep a stream of people around you to prevent feelings of isolation, and pay close attention to any signs your body or mind might be sending you that something is wrong.

Challenge No. 2: Combat Isolation

Let's face it: You can only spend so many days at home with your babies before you need to get out. Still, taking your infants anywhere there are crowds (a shopping mall, baby class, even a child's birthday party) is not advisable during the months of October through April. That's RSV season, which stands for respiratory syncytial virus. In infants and children born prematurely (35 weeks gestation or less), RSV can cause serious respiratory tract disease, and multiples are at an increased risk.

How can you safely change the scenery? "Talking walks in your neighborhood is a great option," suggests Boyle. "Plus, you're close enough to home that you can get back fast if the babies get fussy." You can also invite company to come to you — just a few people at a time. Insist that everyone wash their hands with soap before handling the babies, and reschedule anyone who shows signs of illness.

It's also important for the main caretaker to have alone time, if possible. Becoming a parent is a major shock to the system, whether you're prepared or not. To keep your sanity, schedule an hour or two every few days to take a nap, a bath, a stroll through the mall or just a walk around the neighborhood. These little refreshers can go a long way.

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