A Psychologist's Advice for Parenting Multiples

Dr. Sharon Buchalter, psychologist and family/marriage therapist
Dr. Sharon Buchalter offers tips and advice to parents of multiple babies.

Dr. Sharon Fried Buchalter, a clinical psychologist and family/marriage therapist, recently won two awards for Excellent Products from iParenting Media, for her books, Children are People Too and New Parents are People Too. She offers some great tips to parents of multiple babies.

What are some steps expectant parents should take to prepare themselves for the births of multiple babies?

Eating healthily, resting and making regular prenatal trips to the OB-GYN are essential for any expectant mother. Women carrying multiple babies require even more care, since they are considered a high-risk pregnancy. Thus, it is critical for a woman carrying multiples to get frequent prenatal care from a health professional who has experience with multiple births. Additionally, most hospitals now offer a pre-term birth prevention program. Be sure you are familiar with the program and have access to a specialized NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) should you go into early labor or if there is a problem with the birth.

You may seem overwhelmed with the worries about carrying multiples, such as pain, pre-term labor, etc. One of the best ways to arm yourself is with a network of support, such as doctors you trust, a caring hospital staff that you can get familiar with, a supportive partner, friends and family members. You can even go online or through your hospital or OB-GYN to find other moms of multiples that are willing to talk to you and answer questions you may have and alleviate some of your fears.

Be sure to discuss with your doctor your birthing options. Some women like to hire a doula or midwife to assist during the delivery of the babies. These attendants would be there to help you during your labor and delivery. Since having a newborn is stressful enough, having multiples can be even more stressful. It might help to hire a baby nurse or doula to help with the babies or to attend to you once you get home from the hospital. These attendants can help care for you, the babies and even do household chores.

Once the babies are born, what are some tips on time management for parents of multiples?

The first couple of months after you bring the babies home are often the most difficult for parents of multiples. Because of frequent feedings and other issues, it can cause lack of sleep. My recommendation is to enlist whatever help you can get - from neighbors, family members, and friends - for household chores and daily tasks. If you can afford it, hire a nurse, housekeeper or doula to help out. Having extra hands around can make feedings easier and help you rest and recover from delivery, and it can also give you the extra time you need to get to know your babies.

How can friends and family members help new parents of multiples?

Friends and family can help in so many ways. They can help you make meals that you can freeze. They can watch the babies for a few hours to let you and your partner get some sleep. If they go to the grocery store, you can give them a list of things to get you. Also, they can provide you with some good old fashioned company. Being in a house with babies all day, adult companionship becomes especially important.

One thing many parents forget is to nurture their relationship with each other. The stress of having multiples can wear on any relationship. Have friends and family watch the babies so you and your partner can go out on a date. Get dressed up and remember what drew you to each other in the first place.

What can parents do to reassure other siblings that they haven't lost their important place in the family structure?

When a new baby arrives, it is important to let the siblings know, even before the baby is born, that they will be loved just as much as the other babies. Keep reminding them of that. You can even enlist the siblings' help with the baby (being sure not to burden them). Have them hand you a diaper, pick out the babies' outfits, etc. This will make them feel important and needed. Be sure to schedule some quality alone time with the older siblings. One parent (or family member) can watch the newborns while you spend some alone time with their siblings. Make it their special day. Explain to the older siblings that they are your special helpers and that being a big brother or sister is an important job.

What other advice would you like to offer our readers on this subject?

Be sure to take time for yourself. Whether it's a 30 minute bubble bath or a nap or a manicure- make sure you treat yourself and make sure you feel special and good. Remember- a refreshed parent is a happy parent.

Dr. Buchalter's books reflect her "self-coaching strategies", which she uses to strengthen families and enable parents to be life coaches and mentors to their children. For more information, please visit the following press site at Sharon Buchalter.

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A Psychologist's Advice for Parenting Multiples