Unless you’ve had them yourself, most people simply don’t understand what it’s like having twins. Therefore it’s no wonder that friends, family, colleagues and well-wishers may completely miss the mark with advice and comments.
So what can you do about it?
Let’s start by acknowledging that having twins is a very rare thing. For natural conceptions in the UK, just over 1% result in twins. However, with fertility treatment, 24% result in twins. This in total equates to around 3% of total births in the UK being twins.
So yes, twins are definitely a rarity and single babies still dominate birth statistics. As such, it is understandable that twins are something of a mystery for the vast majority of people – whether they’ve had their own kids or not.
Their own experiences
As with pretty much everything in life, you can only draw upon knowledge which you know. That sounds silly but it is true. What that means for other people, is that you having twins is incomprehensible, as they have nothing else to compare it to. Yes, your parents had you (and maybe other siblings) but having twins is not the same.
For that reason, you are probably going to be offered advice and comments which are inaccurate for twins. Many people go with the idea “It’s just like having 2 babies”. No, it isn’t. The complexities of twins really do make for a unique and different experience to that of raising a single baby.
Single baby pregnancies are considered at full term at 40 weeks. Twin pregnancies are considered at full term at 37 weeks. Even so, the average term time at birth for twins is 36 weeks. We ourselves went into labour at 35 weeks.
What this means is that your twins will most probably be behind in development. For example, our twins born at 35 weeks are considered at 20 weeks old to have a ‘corrected age’ of 15 weeks, this works out as such:
- Your twins current age – number of weeks premature = corrected age
- Example; 20 weeks currently – 5 weeks premature = 15 weeks corrected age
Note: Use 40 weeks as ‘full term’. So if born at 35 weeks, your twins are considered 5 weeks premature.
This can be tough for other to get their heads round as they will not take their corrected age into account and plays a large part in why people don’t understand what it’s like having twins.
If your twins are your first children then you will not know any different. The hardships you face raising your twins cannot be compared to raising a single baby as you haven’t done it before. Obviously though, if you have raised a single baby before then twins may seem like a rather scary experience. You may find that family might be somewhat unsure about offering help as they simply do not know what to do!
What you can do
As with anything, you cannot learn unless you do your research or get some experience. And whilst we as parents of twins have no option but to receive that experience first-hand every single day, other people may need to be introduced to it over time.
Communicate well with friends and family. Get family members used to looking after them. Highlight the unique issues you face and be sure they understand if they have a corrected age.
You may find that for the first few months that people really don’t understand what it’s like having twins. The fear is too much for some and offers of support are few and far between. However, as your twins get older they will be more and more like single babies that others are used to. When that happens, the fears people have often disappear and advice becomes valid and valuable.
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