The first few months with your new twin babies are a wonderful time of bonding. But it is also a lot of work and you aren’t going to get a lot of sleep. If you are looking at going back to work when your standard maternity leave is up (6 weeks post-partum for vaginal delivery, 8 weeks for C-Section), there is a good chance that you are going to be pretty sleep-deprived. It’s going to be tough, but there are some things you can do to help you survive on very little sleep.
Try a different sleeping arrangement. Newborns wiggle around a lot and make all sorts of tiny noises that may be unnecessarily keeping you up. If your babies are in the room with you, try moving them to another room. Or try co-sleeping if you feel that you are losing too much sleep by frequent trips to the nursery (although the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against bed-sharing due to the increased risk of SIDS).
- Take turns with mid-night feedings. Your partner can give the babies a bottle of pumped breastmilk, formula, or a mixture of the two while you catch a few more Zzz’s. Newborns usually wake up 2-3 times a night, so if you also feed them well just before bedtime, they may last a bit longer until the next feeding. Your spouse can take that feeding, and you can do the next one.
- Recruit help. Reach out to friends and family. If anyone can come over to help with the twins (and better yet, see if they can bring along a second helper), don’t try and get cleaning or laundry done! Lay down for a few minutes in a dark and quiet room and take a nap. This is not the time to be the perfect hostess. You asked people to come and help you, which they can best do by letting you sleep and maybe even taking care of some of the housekeeping while you’re napping.
- Find alternatives to caffeine, especially if you are breastfeeding. Drinking caffeine after noon may affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep, so stick to drinking water and eating healthy, high-energy snacks.
- Let the house get messy. Don’t try and keep up with every dirty dish, load of laundry, and messy floor, because you just can’t at this time in your life. What you can do is commit to tackling one chore a day. Choose one cleaning activity, like vacuuming, and be content that you at least cleaned something. Right now, sleep is more important than a spic-and-span house.
- Don’t feel obligated to take on any extra responsibilities. You won’t make a good room mom or team parent or PTA chairperson if you can’t stay awake to do your job well. For just a few months, say no to additional tasks and obligations. Your other children/church friends/coworkers will understand.
- Catch up by getting extra sleep on the weekends. On the weekend, you can nap when the babies do and hopefully get a little more sleep than you would on work days. Read this article for more info about “banking” sleep.
- Prioritize. At work, do your important, complicated tasks first-while you are still alert! Save easier, less-involved tasks for after lunch, when you are more likely to be getting tired.
- Take a lunchtime siesta. Your lunch break is your time, if you need to take a 20-minute catnap in the car or at your desk-do it! And don’t feel silly about it either. A short nap may just be the perfect way to revive yourself in order to take on the rest of the work day feeling refreshed.
- Be cognizant of your mood swings. Extreme sleep deprivation can bring about changes in mood, and new moms should be alert for signs of “The Baby Blues” and post-partum depression. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing any of these symptoms.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. None of the above should be taken as medical or psychiatric advice. All content is for informational purposes only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in regards to any health or sleep-related questions or concerns you may have.