New parents of twins are often taken by surprise… maybe you got pregnant earlier than planned and had to find accommodation to fit your growing family, particularly when you found out you were carrying twins! Maybe you had a difficult pregnancy, were on bedrest and/or had a challenging delivery and recovery. Perhaps you have financial issues as a result of the twin pregnancy and that is an additional burden for you and your partner. Perhaps one of you is still in school? All of these responsibilities and concerns can have a major effect on your relationship. How do you cope with night wakings and divide the load of household chores so that neither partner (you!) gets resentful? Luckily, there are lots of ways new dads can help.
How many of your husbands/partners help you out during the night? If you had a C-section your husband will already understand that he has to help take some of the workload off of you. Some husbands have jobs that include shift work, or they have dangerous jobs that require them to be functioning as alert as possible. Of course no husband, no matter how remarkable, lactates, so the job of nursing babies in the middle of the night falls to the mother.
The only way around getting up for night feedings is if you pump enough for your husband to feed your babies with a bottle (and your production will regulate itself so that you can sleep comfortably at night), you formula feed, or you are lucky enough to have your babies sleep through the night once they are old enough. If your husband does not fall under the shift work/dangerous job category and doesn’t at least offer to help you during the night, it will become a big bugaboo for you, and you will start to resent him as you get progressively more tired as weeks go by.
Another way new dads can help is to be the one to do the first official morning feed, so you can sleep in a bit. This works well if he has to get up early for work, and the best-case scenario here is if he starts a morning routine and can stick to it – which will not only benefit you but also your babies. At the very least he can change the babies if necessary and bring the babies to your bed so you can nurse them there without having to get up. Weekends are a good time for partners to help out, letting you sleep in and bringing you a cup of coffee without you having to ask! Mums can try to nap during the day with the babies so she can get on their schedule, and this may make nighttime vigils more palatable.
Keeping the house together is another matter entirely. Let people who offer to help HELP! They wouldn’t ask if they didn’t mean it. However, other people helping is a short term solution to an ever-present issue. It will be a long haul if you do not communicate what you need to your partner. You will find yourself feeling hyper-responsible for everything in the house, including meals, cleaning and shopping, when you should be concentrating on your new babies. If necessary, consider hiring help to come and do laundry and clean your floors and bathroom once a week. It will be money well spent! If you can’t work out a system with your partner or an alternative solution it will be a major source of frustration for you both.
We are trying something new in my house; whenever my husband comes home from work he will ask if there is anything I need right away. That way I don’t feel demanding, and he knows what I need help with. This works well for both of us because as wonderful as he is, he’s not a mind reader, and I feel well supported and more like a part of a team.
You are a new family and everyone has to get used to their new roles. Remember that people rise to your expectations. You are your own worst enemy if you take on all the chores. First, you will build in an expectation that you will do it. Second, your partner will not understand how much there is to actually do in a day and third you are taking away precious bonding time that your babies and their father should be having. You are in a partnership. Make sure it’s an equal one by incorporating some of these ways new dads can help.