There aren’t many rites of passages quite like sitting in a village hall with a bunch of equally terrified parents-to-be and getting ready to change a dolly’s nappy. That was, in part, how ST and I spent our Saturday…
I went full Cash Hughes and became VERY protective of my twin dolls, especially the diddy one. (Side note: if you’re not sure if you’re decided on your baby names, carry around some dolls for a few hours as I am now 100% convinced. Maaaaan, I miss my dolls.)
We’re doing a local NCT course in September and I intend to to do the free NHS course at my hospital, but the antenatal course which I’ve always been most excited about was the one we went to this weekend – a 6.5 hour twin-fest focused solely on multiple births. The course was run by Twin Birth in conjunction with Tamba, the leading UK multiple birth charity. Tamba offer shorter antenatal classes too (as well as courses for second-time parents who are expecting twins), but we wanted to dive in and do the full day course as we knew this would give us the opportunity to cover everything in more detail.
There were 7 couples on our course and we were all first time parents at a similar stage in pregnancy, so from the get-go it was just really nice to chat to other people going through the exact same stuff that we are. Of course a lot of the fears and questions that new parents face are common across the board, but it IS different when you’re expecting twins and so to be able to talk these things through – face to face – was just really re-assuring I suppose.
There have been times during this pregnancy where I’ve wondered if I was worrying too much/planning too much/reading too much/complaining about my back too much and actually the more I speak to other twin mums-to-be the more I realise it is completely normal. We’re having high-risk pregnancies and our antenatal care and birth choices are different from the outset, not to mention the fact that there’ll be two babies to look after at the end of it (it can be surprisingly easy to forget that part when you’re busy worrying about premature labour and NICU stays) so of course we’re going to approach pregnancy a bit differently. Our pregnancies ARE different.
The course started with us setting out our hopes and aims for the day and by the end of the afternoon we’d definitely covered everything we’d wanted to. The day was structured around the agenda we’d set ourselves but as a loose guide, we basically covered the following…
- Factors influencing type of birth for twins or triplets
- Role of birth partner in vaginal or C section birth
- Recognising signs of labour, what to expect in labour and how multiple birth differs from singleton birth
- How you can cope with labour pain and what choices you have
- How to make a twin or triplet birth plan
- How to make Caesarean birth special if that is your chosen option
- Recovery after both types of birth
- What happens if twins or triplets arrive early
- How to feed, change and care for more than one baby at a time
- Co-bedding twins and routines for twins
- Impact on relationships
- What equipment you really need
- How to get out and about with twins
- How to survive the early days and weeks after the birth
We also had a visit from twin parents who’d been in our position on the course just over a year ago, so they could share their experiences of their first 11 months with their babies. This was really helpful and after we’d all chatted together, the group split so that the men could chat to the dad and the women could chat to the mum. We all had lots of questions as you can imagine, so it was nice to be able to bombard someone who’d done it all so recently!
Whilst the day was structured, our course leader Sharon was really good at keeping an informal feeling throughout. We could all jump in with questions at any time and this was really useful, as inevitably the questions being asked were things I’d been thinking about myself or things I hadn’t considered yet but really should have.
This is where I’d say the course is invaluable really, as whilst I’m looking forward to NCT and meeting local mums from down the road, I’m not expecting the content to turn out to be that enlightening as I highly doubt there’ll be anyone else there expecting twins. Being in a group where everyone was in the same position made life so much easier as every hand raised meant we were all learning something useful and relevant. I’ve also heard horror stories about c-sections only getting a passing mention at NCT so given I know I’m having one, it was great on Saturday to talk about sections in detail and we got some really good pointers about how we can still make the experience ‘special’.
I’ve had the luxury of being able to spend a lot of time reading (and, errr, obsessing) about twin pregnancies, births, breastfeeding and so on, so whilst I wouldn’t necessarily say I “learnt” a huge amount on the day that I hadn’t already thought about, it was really reassuring as it confirmed a lot of the things I’d read and – crucially – it gave ST a chance to ask lots of questions and to gain a much better understanding of what the next year of our lives might look like. The worries he has are very different to mine, so for him to be able to chat these through in the group was great. I also thoroughly enjoyed being proved right throughout the day, as I’ve often said “we need to think about xyz” and it has seemed ludicrous but actually it turns out I’ve been correct all along – HURRAH! I mean surely that sense of oneupmanship is worth the course fee in itself?!
We both really enjoyed the day and probably the best feedback I can give the course is that we drove back home feeling incredibly excited rather than scared. We really can’t wait to meet these bubbas and whilst we do still have loads of things we need to get sorted it all feels very doable. We know it’s going to be hard and we know what challenges we can expect to face, but we also know how rewarding it will be in the long-run.
The course was £150 and that fee included follow-up support, refreshments (yeeeeeah I ate a LOT of biscuits) and loads of materials to take home with us like the above booklets. We went to a course in Chiswick but they’re run all over the country and as I mentioned earlier, there are shorter (and much cheaper) classes as well as webinars on specific topics. There are also classes for parents of older twins on things like sleep, schooling and teen years. I’ve booked to do a breastfeeding multiples webinar next month for £15. You can find out more info on courses and booking details here.
The last thing we did as a group was go round the room and each say what we’re most looking forward to about being twin parents. Everyone said something completely different, but I think we could all relate to everything that was said. There really is so much to look forward to.
It’s going to be a wild ride, but it will be undeniably special too.
We can’t wait!