Many new parents of twins or multiple babies find it difficult to bond with them in the beginning. This could be due to time spent in intensive care after a difficult birth or just having less time to focus on each individual baby. But there is a lot you can do to help.
Bonding with Twins or Multiple Babies
Worrying that you won’t bond with your newborn is a very normal concern for expectant and new mums to have. There is a myth that we fall in love with our babies the instant we see them, but this doesn’t always happen straight away. And what if you have twins or multiple babies – is it any harder to bond with them?
Bonding instantly with your baby doesn’t always happen
We are led to believe that bonding instantly with our babies is the norm, when in reality it doesn’t happen anywhere near as often as you think.
Most mums will feel a mix of pain, exhaustion, medication, shock, terror, and relief when their babies are born; there might not be much room left for feeling overwhelming unconditional love for our baby at the same time.
Often, we can be too hard on ourselves at this time. If we don’t feel instant love and like we can handle anything like an Instagram Supermum then we might pile a load of guilt or ourselves instead. Try not to judge yourself right now or compare yourself to anyone’s concept of what you should be doing (including your own).
Once you start to feel a bit more like yourself the bonding will come – don’t worry if it isn’t straight away.
Reasons why bonding with twins or multiple babies can be difficult
Bonding with any newborn can be difficult for a number of reasons. A new mum can feel overwhelmed; they are presented with another person to be entirely responsible for, a full-time schedule of activities they have no clue about, and next to no sleep.
Bonding with twins or multiple babies can be even harder than with just one baby, which may be because:
- You may have had a difficult birth and are recovering from surgery
- One or more of your babies may have gone straight into the neonatal intensive care unit
- You might feel as though your babies are very fragile, especially if they were preterm
- One of your babies may be more ‘needy’ than another
- You are even more tired than you would be with one baby
- You have half as much time with each baby than if you just had one
- It takes you twice as long to learn about them and get to know them
- You might feel guilty for not treating them like individuals
- You might feel guilty for not feeling the same emotions towards each baby
What if you only bond with one baby?
Bonding with just one of your babies is completely normal and very common. While no parent admits to having a favourite child over another, on any one day we probably do like one of them a bit more.
And don’t be suprised when a complete stranger in the supermarket asks you which is your favourite! Trust me, it will happen.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like you are connecting or engaging with one baby more than the other. Just make sure that you are able to spend equal time with each as much as you can. And don’t worry too much about it – by next week it will probably have switched to the other one!
Tips to help you bond with your twins or multiple babies
Have skin on skin contact with your babies, one at a time. Dads can do this too, of course, this isn’t just a mum thing. Studies have shown that this kind of physical contact can be incredibly beneficial for tiny babies, helping to regulate their temperature, breathing, and stress and helping them to gain weight.
It is a lovely, special time for you as well.
2. Ask for help
Because your babies outnumber you from birth, ask for help as often as you can. Get your partner involved whenever possible; they need their own bonding time with your babies as well anyway. And accept help from family, friends, neighbours and your mum’s group if you have one.
3. Start with just taking care of your babies (and remember yourself too!)
Try not to worry too much about bonding in the beginning and just take care of your babies and yourself. All your babies need right now are to be safe and have their physical needs looked after; relationships with them will follow in time.
Remember to sleep whenever you can, eat and take showers every day as well. When you are caring for multiple babies, and especially if you are worried about bonding with them, it is likely you are forgetting to look after yourself. This is all the more important now you are a mum.
4. Get out and about
It can be very easy to go stir crazy with newborns and feel like you are never getting out of the house. It can also seem very difficult to get them both organised enough to get out. But running even a small errand every day can be a great help to your sanity and will contribute to your general feeling of normalcy.
Going for a walk with both babies in the pram is a good start, and gentle exercise and a little sunshine on your skin will do wonders for how you are feeling.
When possible, run an errand with one baby and leave the other with your partner or another carer, to get in some one on one time for you both.
You could also head to your local shopping centre or library just to get a change of scenery and have a conversation with another adult. Generally, babies are totally welcome here and it needn’t be expensive. Many cinemas run Mum and Bub movie sessions as well where babies are very welcome, and you can just chill out a little.
5. Spend time with each of them one on one
Take individual moments to bond and connect with each of your babies. During nappy changes talk to each baby and try to get them to laugh or interact with you. After baths, each parent can take one baby and give them an infant massage, which is helpful to get them to wind down for the night and also to connect one on one.
Another great idea to help with bonding with twins or multiples is to stagger naptimes slightly, by about 20-30 minutes, so that you have a little personal time with each baby.
Your babies may look the same, but they are entirely different people and will have different challenges, strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Get to know them as individuals. The things each of your babies needs from you will vary all the time, and it is important that you treat them each as unique and separate people.
One of the bonuses of having twins and multiples is the special time and connection they have with each other – so even if you feel like you are spending less time with them individually, they are there to look after each other. Twins and multiples have the benefit of never being lonely and they will always have their own special bond.
If you are struggling bonding with your twins or multiple after the first six weeks, you may be suffering from postnatal depression. This is a very common condition and does happen slightly more often with parents of multiples. Talk to your GP to get some advice and options that may be able to help you For more information on PND check out our article here.