The first in a series of posts during tandem wearing month at BCD, Ruby talks about how she got started on the ultimate babywearing adventure: TWO babies at once!
After having about 5 years experience carrying one kiddo at a time, it was time for a new adventure… and the arrival of our twins in August 2008 sure answered the call! As I write, the babies (Oliver is about a half kilo heavier than his “big” sister Catalina) are six months old. The thoughts below are reflections from the preemie/newborn/hospital period, and might be helpful to parents with twins on the way (or newborn twins), or anyone else with preemies or babies in Special Care Nurseries.
Before you become terrified by the thought of two tiny babies attached to you, begin to tell yourself it is OK not to have both babies on you at all times! You can still be committed to the ideals of babywearing/attachment parenting. Parenting a newborn is tiring, stressful hard work… parenting two or more can be murder! Add to that “normal” stuff like colic, reflux, health problems etc… be gracious toward yourself.
My eldest (now 5) was only ever carried in a sling or stretchy wrap. My second (now 3) was carried in slings, a stretchy wrap, mei tais and a structured soft carrier (SSC). In preparing for the arrival of our babies, I just made sure I had a sling ready; sort of. The babies arrived early and I ‘only’ had a couple of days to make what seemed at the time to be a million decisions. So, I went with what I felt was the most gentle, natural carrier. I think it is valuable to have at least one carrier you feel confident in using, or at least confident to try. Have a few trial runs so you get a sense of how to put your carrier on and adjust it. Like all things, you do get better with practise! Some people have successful trial runs with teddy bears (right size, wrong weight) or bags of flour (right sort of weight, wrong shape!)
If you can, familiarise yourself with “kangaroo care”. There’s tons of info online, but basically, whenever and for as long as you and your babies are able, get skin-to-skin contact (that’s the bare naked-skin kind!). It is important for all babies to have skin-to-skin contact with mum, but especially important for small, early, sick and/or babies born in traumatic circumstances. It has a really positive effect on your babies stress levels, heart rate and bonding. It can also have a positive effect on mum! Try to find some privacy, get your shirt off (or open down the front, and pop you baby in while they are just in a nappy. Use a sling or a wrap over yourselves, and try not to feel pressured into limiting time/contact or feel obligated to hold both babies at once. Obviously, if your children are connected to machinery, you’re limited by how far you can move (we had our daughter hooked up for a while). You may also encounter problems with staff – my advice is to go to the head of the Nursery, get your permissions from her/him, and not enter debate with the nurses who change at every shift.
A single ring sling is great for small babies. You can use just one sling to carry either one or both babies as newborns, and you might even try breastfeeding while using a sling. It can offer great support – and a bit more privacy – while recovering from birth, either vaginal or by Caesar. I found initially that the babies’ heads would clonk together unless I was especially careful! Still, two slings was much too difficult for me in the early days. I preferred settling my larger baby in, sitting legs crossed or froggy style, and then sliding the smaller baby along side, resulting in them both being “tummy to tummy”[T2T] (actually, more like T2breast… or the other T if you prefer). Other people have had success placing the larger baby (if there’s a difference) in a cradle carry, which is essentially a lie across your body supported by the sling, and then place the other baby on top, maybe facing the first baby so they can see one another. I tried but didn’t find this position comfy; like most things, what you find comfortable may differ.
A stretchy wrap is also great, and you can easily make your own from stretchy cotton jersey (t-shirt material) from a local fabric shop. You don’t need anything fancy. I do recommend a soft stretchy jersey or other interlock, though. My stretchy wrap is made of a polyester mesh which is lovely and cool, but I didn’t like the ‘net’ on my preemies; I waited until they were out of hospital before I used a front wrap cross carry (FWCC), and had one baby in each side of the cross, with the wrap over both. We could all settle down in an armchair and snooze like that! Plus, if you are practising Kangaroo Care, the FWCC covers you completely and provides a lot of privacy. With a stretchy wrap, it’s also “poppable” – you can “pop” a baby in or out without having to untie or re-tie the whole wrap.
Any other carriers/styles suitable for newborns are great… after all, you don’t have to wear both babies at the same time. I just play with different things as the spirit moves, or whenever I have the energy and desire to try something different!!! Of course, you don’t need to try anything different- one carry that works for you is all you need. Leaving the hospital – and leaving the house – with twins is a whole different story… so we’ll leave that for another post!
© Ruby/ScarletRubies 2009_0202
Further resources you may find helpful:
Wrapping instruction links at the Babywearer (you must be logged in to access)
Wearing more than one forum at the Babywearer
- Kangaroo care instructions with a ring sling and wrap (downloadable PDF format). Video: httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-gTJl6JZRg
Keep an eye out over March for further posts on tandem wearing. Have you worn more than one? How did you get started? Leave a comment and let us know!