One of the most common words used to describe the emotions of expectant parents of multiples is total surprise. Though some parents may have had a higher pre-disposition to becoming pregnant with multiples due to age, fertility treatments, or family history, actually conceiving multiples almost always comes as a surprise. In a family where children are already present, multiples may be an even bigger surprise.
Many parents wonder how will they ever be able to take care of multiples when they have other young children at home. How they will be able to provide for so many lives? Preparation for the parents and the children at home is essential in providing a smooth transition for your exciting additions.
In most cases, families discover that they are expecting multiples several months before they are born. Take advantage of that transitional time to prepare your for your new arrivals. In a multiple pregnancy, it is to your advantage to utilize every possible week to get your home -- and your family -- ready for the birth. Here are some suggestions for preparing chlildren of any age for the birth of multiple.
Educate Your Children
Depending on their ages, you will be able to explain in varying degrees what exactly is happening to Mom. Children understand much more than adults give them credit for. Your children need to know that being pregnant with multiples is a little different than being pregnant with a single child. Take them along for sonograms and let them get a visual picture of what exactly is happening inside Mom's belly. Begin talking about how the family will change, always emphasizing how they will still be loved and how mom and dad will still be there for them as well.
Plan Activities You can Do While Sitting/Laying Down
Early in your pregnancy begin to prepare activities you can do in a sitting or laying down position. Even if you are not confined to bed or reduced activity, you will need time to rest your body. If you are ordered to bed rest at some point during your pregnancy, you will need activities for your children that are easily accessible for the children and yourself. You may wish to clear off a bookcase close to your bed or couch and fill it with these items.
- Games: Board games, card games, computer games
- Surprise Boxes: filled with stickers, colors or other goodies for times when they are bored and need something fresh and new.
- Crafts: Paper, boxes, markers, crayons, glue, feathers, beads, etc. for times of creative, quiet play
- Books: Especially books related to new babies, or multiples in the house. If your children are old enough you may even want to get a few chapter books to read for long afternoons or lazy Saturdays.
- Movies: Save some new, never viewed movies to watch later in the pregnancy when you will need something new and different to do.
Involve Your Children In the Pregnancy
Take your children shopping with you for the new nursery items. Allow them to help pick out an outfit or toys for the new babies. Ask for their opinion on what the babies might like in their room. Make them feel a part of the planning and preparation that is ongoing. They want to feel included, not excluded. The older the child is, the more input and opinion you should seek from that child. While you may not always use your child's suggestions, at least your child will feel like s/he is a part of the process.
Expose Your Children to the Adults You Will Call On
In twin, triplet and higher order pregnancies, there is an increased chance that Mom will be confined to bed rest or even hospitalized. In that scenario, your children need to feel comfortable with the adults who will be taking care of them while you are incapacitated. Begin to expose your children to those people now. It will make you feel better should you need to leave them, and your children will be much happier staying with adults they are comfortable with.
Suzie Chafin is a Dallas, Texas mom of four children, including identical twin boys. She is the author of Your Pregnancy Devotional (compare prices). She writes and lectures about family topics such as postpartum depression, managing multiples and Christian parenting.