Insomnia during triplet pregnancy driving you nuts? Try these cool tricks for better sleep.

Insomnia during triplet pregnancy driving you nuts? Try these cool tricks for better sleep.

So you’re pregnant with triplets or more and you’re not sleeping? I hear you, sister. While insomnia during pregnancy is pretty common, it is often exacerbated for those carrying a multiple pregnancy ( as are most of the usual joys including heartburn, morning sickness and fatigue). When you’re already feeling exhausted throughout the day due to the load of growing a six-legged sea monster in your belly, the frustration of lying awake all night despite being completely wrecked is complete torture.

So why can’t you sleep? The common reasons for insomnia during pregnancy include:

 – Needing to wee
. The group of tiny humans using your bladder as a beanbag means you have to get up and go to the toilet frequently.

 – Stress and anxiety. There is a lot to process when you’re expecting triplets or more. Not only are there the fears over preterm labor and health complications due to the increased risk factors that go with multiples, but you now have a logistical dilemma to sort out as well that you probably weren’t anticipating when you said, “Let’s have a baby.” Specialized equipment such as prams, potentially a new car to fit three car seats, financial concerns might all be racing through your mind making it hard to switch off at night.

 – Back Pain. Not surprising really, but your back is copping quite a load at the moment. As you gain weight in the front, your back muscles have to work harder to maintain balance. Unfortunately, hormonal changes loosen ligaments, which can mean its’ easier to injure yourself too whilst pregnant, so remember to take it easy when you can.

 – General discomfort. As your babies grow, the chance of finding a comfortable position to sleep will shrink. Since it isn’t considered safe to sleep on your back or your right side, and your tummy is, um, well…it pretty much leaves your left side for sleeping. Hot tip here: Try a long body pillow or even a couple of standard pillows to support your body as you sleep.

 – Gas. Pregnancy hormones inhibit digestion, so it’s not your fault that you’re farting like jersey cow and burping like a truck driver. The feeling of bloating can cause pain and discomfort.

 – Respiratory changes. If your babies are squished up against your diaphragm, you may find that you feel shirt of breath and this can make it hard to drift off and relax.

 – Metabolism. Your metabolism is working like crazy right now, growing tiny fingers, organs and eyebrows! You may have trouble eating enough because you have crazy morning sickness and can’t keep anything down, or your babies are squashing your stomach so you feel full easily. If you aren’t having these problems, you’re probably starving hungry all the time! The absolute BEST advice I was given when I suffered from insomnia during my triplet pregnancy was to EAT! A protein snack in the middle of the night was the quickest way to get me back off to sleep. Prepare it the night before so it’s ready to go in the fridge. Try a hard boiled egg, some hummus, even just a small protein shake.

What can help with insomnia during pregnancy?

Well, apart from my tip just before about eating a protein snack if you wake in the night, there are some other natural things you can try to assist with getting a good nights’ sleep during your pregnancy. I’m not going to lie – “a good nights’ sleep” is probably a stretch, but surely some improvement is better than anything, right?

Exercise: As undesirable as it might feel to ‘work out’ during a triplet pregnancy, it will make you feel so much better! I’m not talking about a hard sweat session – walking if it’s comfortable to you, swimming, walking up and down the swimming pool and pilates are all really gentle forms of exercise that are usually safe to do during pregnancy. Of course discuss this with your doctor first because every pregnancy is different, but the physical and emotional benefits are worth exploring.

Vitamins and Minerals: There are some supplements and foods that can help with sleeplessness during pregnancy  – make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D (thing fatty fish such as mackerel or salmon plus a great reason to get outdoors in the sunshine to absorb it) and magnesium (green leafy veg, bananas, avocados). You can also buy magnesium oil sprays that are absorbed through the skin.

Avoid stimulants: This might seem obvious, but if you’re snacking more than normal to keep your energy levels up during the day, you might be consuming caffeine, sugar or other additives such as flavour enhancers and preservatives that can interfere with sleep. Be especially mindful of your evening meal being low GI, as preservative free as possible and healthy.

Insomnia can be incredibly frustrating during pregnancy and in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I’m not going to get any sleep when the babies arrive!”, which just adds to the cruelty of it all. Be kind to yourself. Set realistic expectations during the day when you’re tired – you are already doing an amazing job so please just make taking care of yourself the biggest priority.

Can you exercise during a triplet pregnancy? This might surprise you.

Can you exercise during a triplet pregnancy? This might surprise you.

Pregnancies are about as individual an experience as they come, whether you are carrying one, or more babies. There are a number of factors that dictate how much exercise, if any, a woman can undertake during her pregnancy, and they aren’t always factors within our control. This article is designed to help answer some common questions that are asked by women about whether you can exercise during a triplet pregnancy, but please, please, please discuss your individual circumstances with a trained health professional. This information is general in nature and should not be used as medical advice. There are a few risks associated with exercising during pregnancy, but there are also some wonderful benefits as well.

When considering an exercise routine during any pregnancy, it’s important to ask yourself what your intention is behind doing the exercise. Women exercise for a variety of reasons, including, but limited to;

  • Looking after your mental health;
  • The acute rehabilitation or long-term management phase of an injury;
  • Managing weight;
  • Social interaction;
  • Training for competitive sports; and
  • General strength, fitness and conditioning for optimizing performance in work related or lifestyle activities.

These are all noble reasons for having a regular exercise routine and being pregnant doesn’t mean you should give up our goals. You will probably find, however, that adjustments need to be made while you are pregnant in order to fulfill your intentions whilst doing what’s best for your body and your babies.

Whatever your intention is, understand that for the duration of your pregnancy and the following period of caring for one or multiple newborns, your priorities will be different to what they were prior to falling pregnant. You are now responsible for not only your health, but the health of you babies. If your goal is to get your pre-pregnancy body back as soon as possible or to gain as little weight as possible while pregnant, you might want to take stock of the reasons behind that pressure being placed on you. Is might be unrealistic expectations of your partner, peer pressure from a competitive friendship group or comparing yourself to celebrities you may have seen in tabloids. It’s important to remember that your body is undergoing massive transformation and doing amazing things. Be gentle with yourself and accept that bouncing back will take time.

The general rule of thumb when it comes to exercise during a triplet pregnancy (or any pregnancy for that matter), is that you don’t start an exercise routine that you weren’t doing beforehand. If you didn’t go running before getting pregnant, now isn’t the time to start. If you weren’t lifting weights beforehand, stay out of the squat rack for now. You have a lot of life ahead of you to get into those activities, but now isn’t the right time! If you weren’t doing any exercise before your pregnancy and want to get started with something, go for a gentler activity like swimming or work with an accredited health professional such as an exercise physiologist. They can help you with strength and mobility training in a safe way while you are pregnant.

exercising while pregnant with triplets

What precautions should be taken during a triplet pregnancy?

Exercising during a triplet pregnancy must involve talking to you doctor. Everyone’s circumstances are unique and your doctor will consider things like:

  • Your current fitness level, age and lifestyle;
  • Your past history with pregnancies and/or pregnancy loss;
  • Factors relating to the types of triplets you’re carrying that may affect the risk of complications.

Pregnancy isn’t the time to take on new physical challenges or push yourself in the gym, so it’s important to view your exercise as something to help you in your pregnancy, rather than something you want to do in spite of your pregnancy. The mental health benefits of exercise can be greatly beneficial during a triplet pregnancy and activities like swimming can feel sensational to take the load off for a bit and enjoy the buoyancy of the water! Pelvic floor strengthening work like Pilates and gentle resistance training may also alleviate back pain and help in recovery from your pregnancy when it comes to bladder weakness.

What are the main risks associated with exercise during a triplet pregnancy?

The main risks associated with exercise during pregnancy include:

  • Fatigue is a common symptom in pregnancy but it comes with a side of Absolute Exhaustion during a multiple pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Being rigid about “to-do” lists, exercise schedules and work deadlines can really take its’ toll.
  • During pregnancy, the body produces hormones called relaxin and progesterone, which make the tendons and muscles more stretchy than normal. The idea behind this is that your body needs to shift things around to make room for growing babies and eventually childbirth – pretty clever, huh? It’s important to understand this because it also means that the connective tissues that normally stabilize your joints during exercise with me more relaxed as well and therefore your joints will be more mobile and vulnerable to injury. In a triplet pregnancy, there are more of these hormones present and the joints will be even looser.
  • The enormity of your pregnant triplet belly means your abdominal muscles have to separate in order to allow for expansion. The rectus abdominus (basically your deep seated six pack) separates down the middle to make room for your growing babies. The flip side of this is that your core stabilization is affected significantly as your trunk pulls apart, making you more prone to a back injury.
  • Placentas, amniotic fluid and the actual development of multiple tiny humans growing inside your abdomen means your center of gravity is thrown way off as your pregnancy progresses. Not only can this affect balance, but it also places a lot of extra load on your lower back. Back pain is pretty common in single pregnancies and more prevalent when carrying multiples.
  • Lying on your back for an extended period is discouraged during pregnancy, as it can obstruct blood flow to the fetus. During a multiple pregnancy, this is much more critical, so the position you are in during exercise may need to be modified.

When should I stop working out with triplets?

The biggest risk for most HOM (Higher Order Multiple) pregnancies is the increased likelihood of preterm labor. As your babies grow and begin to compete for space and put pressure on your body, every day physical tasks will become increasingly difficult. It’s important to keep the conversation open with your doctor about what sort of exercise you’re doing. Activities such as Pilates and swimming can actually become increasingly enjoyable in those later stages of your pregnancy as they can ease lower back pain. Water based activities are particularly good for that temporary feeling of weightlessness! Some women experience additional complications such as having a shorter cervix, early cervical dilation or infection, which may mean the risk of preterm labor is higher. Bed rest is not commonly prescribed these days, like it was in the past, but if you are at increased risk of early labor, you may be told to limit physical activity. The volume of blood in your body increases as your pregnancy progresses as well, which can leave you feeling breathless as your heart works hard to move that blood around your body. It’s normal to get puffed out more easily, so be mindful not to over do it!

Do you burn more calories when pregnant with triplets?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women consume an extra 300 calories per baby they are carrying. This increases to 450 calories per day by the third trimester. It’s common for women pregnant with triplets to be ravenously hungry (when they’re not experiencing nausea!) as their metabolism works hard growing those extra humans! The main thing to remember is that all calories aren’t created equal. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables and protein in your diet and especially foods rich in folate, zinc and iron. Your developing babies are completely dependent on your for their nutritional needs, so try to make good choices.

can you exercise during a triplet pregnancy

Running while pregnant with triplets

There are women who are able to run throughout their entire pregnancies or for a good portion of their pregnancy. It’s not the case for all women and the women who do manage to continue running are generally seasoned runners prior to becoming pregnant. Running when pregnant with triplets, however, is not usually advised, for all the reasons we mentioned above. If you are a dedicated runner and are getting twitchy at the idea of not hitting the pavement, you may need to drop back to a walk or swap out your miles for laps of the pool instead. Remind yourself that it’s temporary.

What are the best baby gifts for triplets?

What are the best baby gifts for triplets?

There are few occasions I love to buy gifts for than the arrival, or anticipated arrival of a tiny human. However, when that tiny human becomes two, three or even more babies at once, it becomes so much more complicated! There are certain practicalities that need to be considered, the temptation of buying matching sets of clothing and some specific products that are seemingly invisible to most new parents, but can make a life altering difference when used by parents of multiples! I’d like to draw your attention to some of these considerations, to help you give the most appreciated gifts possible. Based on my own lived experience, I’ve put together some tips on buying the best baby gifts for triplets.

There are a few distinct categories of gift givers when it comes to baby presents. I find we sometimes drift from one category to another depending on our life stage and personal circumstances. Read on and see if you recognize any of them in yourself or in people you know!

The 6 Types of Baby Present Gift Givers

1. The Practical Gifter

This is often someone who has already has babies of their own and clearly remembers (or is still living in) the chaos. They opt for big boxes of nappies, wet wipes and plain, yet quality singlets or grow suits. They realize your babies will spend such a small window of time in the tiny sizes of clothing that its’ not worth spending loads on fancy outfits and their clothes will probably be covered in nappy leakage, milk spit up or swaddled in a muslin wrap most pf the time anyway! These folk are the ones most likely to drop a cooked meal at your house in the first weeks after coming home from hospital, too.

2. The Well Meaning, but Impractical Gifter

I hope this doesn’t come across as ungrateful because it isn’t intended to be. This gift giver has the best of intentions with the presents they give, but it’s usually the most beautiful outfits that the babies will never wear. The outfits with lots of buttons, hats and even tiny shoes (although they are for humans who cannot walk); The outfits that would take patience and persistence to dress even one newborn baby in because of the fiddly nature of it’s design. Trying to to change the poop-leaking nappy of a wriggling, uncooperative baby in a button up shirt with dungarees over the top is an experience you only attempt once; The outfits that require ironing. You get my point. These gorgeous outfits might make for a beautiful photo shoot, but the reality of having triplets is that you just don’t have enough time!

On this note, decorations for the nursery can be problematic. Once triplets are born, there is little time for hanging pictures, taking plaster casts of hand and feet or crafty scrap booking to record the first time the babies roll over or their first teeth. If you want to gift something like this, consider also offering to help with it. For a keepsake scrap booking project, you could offer to beautifully record everything for the first 12 months so all the parents have to do is send you a text and a quick photo from their phone! A photo shoot could also include your time to assist with changing, settling and feeding babies during the session. We had a plan for how we wanted our nursery to look, and knowing this would be our only pregnancy and with limited space (due to 3 cots in the room), we had carefully selected some pictures that we wanted on our nursery walls. We then received several gifts (some from friends of my parents – people I’d actually never met) of lovingly embroidered artworks to be hung on the wall. I felt pressured to hang them up so as not to offend anyone and I genuinely appreciated the gesture. The problem was that we sacrificed having the baby nursery as I’d always imagined it because we had to hang what other people thought we should put on the walls.

3. The Self Care Gifter

This is the gift giver who focuses on the parents. It’s a dinner voucher, a massage voucher or a nice bottle of wine. If this style of gift resonates with you, please do me a favor and always couple that gift with the offer of babysitting. Parents of multiples find it harder to ask for someone to babysit that parents of a single baby, because it feels like so much more of an imposition when there are lots of babies. This really sucks because it’s the parents of triplets or more who probably need a few hours off more than anyone! I’ve found a good way to make everyone more comfortable with this arrangement is to buddy up with someone. For example, “This dinner voucher is from both of us. We will both come over to your place when you decide to book and babysit the triplets together so we can help each other out.” It’s important to give new parents a nudge too. Whether it’s feeling overprotective or just being too exhausted on the hamster wheel of life to actually book a night out, you might need to encourage your recipient to lock something in.

best baby gifts for triplets

4. The Multiple Birth Frother

There are some people (my own mother included) whose eyes light up at the opportunity to buy gifts for multiples! The temptation to buying matching sets of clothes, toys or color coordinated bibs definitely gets people excited. Just a couple of words of advice, if this is you…
When it comes to matching outfits, suss out the parents to find out how they feel about it. Some parents of multiples absolutely love dressing their children the same, whereas others make a decision to deliberately dress them differently. If the parents feel strongly about it one way or another, you can buy presents that you know will be appreciated and used just as you hope they will be! If you know the sexes of the babies, this also makes gift buying easier. Consider staying away from the stereotypical pink and blue gender assigned items – this tends to be intensified with multiple births of different sexes. Try colors like orange, aqua, green and red for something different!

5. The Personalized Gifter.

These gifts are actually my favorite ones and are the gifts that have me thinking about the person that gave them to us every time I use them. It’s simple items like nice fluffy bath towels, cushion covers or individual cutlery sets that have the babies’ names on them, whether it’s embroidered, printed or engraved. The extra effort that goes into getting those items customized means so much. There is something really special about seeing your child’s name on things when you’re a new parent. Just make sure you get the spelling correct! A really lovely idea, if you want to get something for the parents, that will get enjoyed for years is a personalized /engraved cheese board. My partners’ work colleagues bought us a beautiful stainless steel carving tray and had a personal message engrave around the rim to the effect of “Commemorating the births of J, B and E. From your friends at ***********.” It’s a lovely gesture that we see whenever we eat a roast dinner and our children (now 10) ask us about it.

6. The Gift Registry Lover

If there’s going to be a proper baby shower event, it’s a really good idea to create a gift registry. I felt really uncomfortable having a gift registry at first as it felt greedy (I never had a wedding, but I imagine it’s a similar feeling for wedding gift registers too). As my sister explained to me though, people are going to buy gifts anyway and they WANT to buy things that are needed and appreciated. People don’t have to buy off the gift register, but it does help people who aren’t sure what to buy and it reduced the chance of people buying something you already have or something unsuitable that needs to be changed.

The key to a good gift register is to cater to all budgets. Have plenty of small items such as bottles, nappies, pacifiers and wipes for people who have a smaller budget (after all, it can be a costly baby shower when there are three or more babies to buy for) as well as plenty of mid range items (under $100). It’s also okay to include a few big ticket items as you may have friends or family who opt to join forces and chip in to buy a larger gift together.

If you’re the one looking through a gift register to buy a gift and there’s nothing there you want to buy, ask yourself why not? If it’s because everything is out of your budget, consider asking someone to go in a joint present with you. If it’s because nothing on the list seems fun and it’s all just so practical and impersonal, consider how you can personalize an item off the list (as mentioned before). The simple embroidery of an initial on a cot blanket can make a huge difference. What about a few heartfelt messages of support and encouragement tucked between nappies for when they’re fished out of the box in the wee hours of the morning?

7. The “Tell Me What You Want” Gifter

This is the Practical Gifter, but even more direct. The best kind of Tell-Me-What-You-Want-er is the one that says, “I’m just going to wait until after the babies are born and you get a feel for what you think you need.” Whether it’s a breastfeeding pillow, a motorized swing to help with settling, or a nappy bin with a pedal for when your hands are full, sometimes you don’t know what you need until you need it! They don’t want to waste time, money or energy on something that won’t get used. It might mean their gift is less cute, less pretty or less sentimental, but you can be sure it’s going to be meaningful!

best gifts for triplet babies

The Best Baby Gifts for Triplets

When you have newborn triplets, the main thing to consider is efficiency. Efficiency of time, of space, of money. Because let’s face it – it’s a lot.

Most expectant mothers have a plan for whether they intend to breastfeed or not. I think we all understand that breastfeeding doesn’t always go to plan, especially when you’re talking about multiple (and likely premature) babies. Products such as twin breastfeeding pillows, breast pumps, bottle sterilizers or even a voucher for a great store that specializes in bras could be a really practical gift for a triplet mom. These are probably gifts that are best coming from someone who is pretty close to the recipient, and maybe warrant a conversation first to make sure you’re on the right page. Some new mothers of multiples find the idea of breastfeeding three or more babies too overwhelming and have already made the decision to express breast milk and/or use formula right from the start. Each mom’s experience with breastfeeding is unique and while some specialized gear can make whatever option they decide to go for a lot easier, it can be a pretty personal topic.

When it comes to baby clothes, go for simplicity, rather than the cutest looking item on the shelf. A parent of triplets needs clothes than are as easy to put on and off as possible! Press studs, snap-crotches and machine washable is key. Steer clear of fiddly buttons and things that need to go over the baby’s head or require hand washing!

There are certain baby products that are on most expectant mother’s wish list as essential, but just don’t work for parents of triplets. My favorite example is the nappy bag. You know, the compartmentalized “baby bag” that holds a few essentials and is either slung over mom’s shoulder or tucked underneath the pram? It’s not unusual to see these in the baby stores in designer brands for several hundred dollars. When it comes to going anywhere with three or more babies, this style of bag just doesn’t cut it. A good backpack is what works best. Hands free, lots of compartments and plenty of room inside!

Everything you need to know about types of triplets and higher order multiple pregnancies.

Everything you need to know about types of triplets and higher order multiple pregnancies.

Triplet pregnancies can come in a few combinations of shared embryonic sacs, shared placentas, identical, fraternal etc. The types of triplets you are carrying can affect the likelihood of experiencing complications during your pregnancy. Triplet pregnancies in themselves are pretty rare. Recent (2020) figures from the CDC show a triplet or higher order birth rate of 79.6 per 100,000 live births. Higher Order Multiples (HOMs) is a term used to describe triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets and more.

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Should I dress my triplets the same?

Should I dress my triplets the same?

There are some things we’re taught not to bring up in conversation unless we know people very well. Religion, politics, views on vaccination (that wasn’t on my radar until the last couple of years!) You know the topics the rules around bringing them up. I’d like to offer a piece of friendly advice and throw another one in the mix when you’re talking to parents of twins or more. Unless you enjoy debating or aren’t worried about offending people, do not under any circumstances mention your views on dressing twins or triplets in matching outfits!

I’ll happily share my own views here and the reasons behind them, because I recently had an expectant triplet mom send me the question “Should I dress my triplets the same?”. Please know, however, that while I may sit firmly on one side of the fence, we are all different. You do you.

My own experience being dressed the same as my sister:

I am three and a half years younger than my sister. We are, and always have been polar opposites. She’s the girliest girl you ever did meet and grew up playing with dolls and makeup. I wore a toy gun on my hip, played with ninja turtles and loved dinosaurs. Despite our different personalities and preferences, our mother dressed us the same A LOT, and always if we were going out somewhere for an occasion or where a photo might be taken. There were totally identical outfits, such as dresses (much to my tomboyish dismay) or sometimes we wore the same outfit, but in different colours. My sister usually got pink if it was an option, and I had the same ensemble in orange or green.

My sister also disliked being dressed the same and increasingly so as she hit the preteen years and cringed at being matched with her annoying younger sibling (oh, and I was so annoying!). Her protests must have finally made an effect as the practice seemed to fade out around the time she hit high school.

As the younger sibling, I copped an extra irritating blow from the matching outfits obsession. Not only did I have the first round of wearing the same as my sister, but then I also got her hand me downs, so had the monotony of the same outfit for twice as long!

To give credit to my mum where it’s due, as I progressed through my teenage years, she was pretty supportive of letting me make my own clothes choices. My fashion sense definitely didn’t align with hers, but she willingly agreed to take me to buy my first pair of Doc Marten boots! My sister and I tease her to this day about making us dress the same, but she has no regrets, responding with “Everywhere we went, people always commenting on how nice you looked!”

Why I don’t dress my triplets the same:

Fast forward 20 years and I find out I’m pregnant with triplets. My mum’s matchy-matchy inclined brain goes into overdrive as she starts suggesting name combinations.
“If you have 3 girls, you could name them, Amber, Ruby and Jade!”

Riiiight. Then we’ll have ourselves a set of traffic lights…

should i dress my triplets the same

We ended up with two girls and a boy, all fraternal and completely different in appearance right from when they were newborn in size, shape and hair colour. My partner and I had decided before they were born that we wanted to help them be individuals as much as possible and deliberately gave them names with a different initial since they would already have the same date of birth. Predictably we received several matching sets of clothes as gifts in the early days, which we received gratefully and got a few cute keepsake photos with them wearing these.

But here’s the reality…

Three babies at once meant the finances were stretched. When friends offered us near new, but second-hand baby clothes, we said “hell yes!”. We bought very, very few items of clothes for our kids when they were babies. Hand-me-down items meant they weren’t matching, but we still tended to keep certain items for individual babies, so they had their “own” clothes. With 2 out of 3 suffering from reflux, one too small to get the smallest nappies to create a good seal around the legs and the general fluid-leakiness of babies, the average number of outfits worn each day was 2-3 per child. Our priorities with clothing choices were simple and fast, not aesthetic! Snap crotches, no fiddly bits and machine washable were non-negotiables!

Even if we had dressed our triplets the same at the start of the day, there’s no way we would make it to lunch without having needed to do a clothing change – and like hell I was going to change the other two every time so they stayed matching! Our babies were born on the first day of summer, so they also spent a fair amount of their first few months in nothing more than a nappy and a muslin swaddle!

From babies to toddlers, we were the centre of attention everywhere we went with our triple pram turning heads constantly. The barrage of well-meaning people wanting to strike up a conversation as we tried to do a quick grocery shop was overwhelming. I remember trying to avoid eye contact or even pretending to talk on my phone to avoid the same questions over and over again from strangers whilst waiting in a queue. If we were playing at the park, the last thing I wanted to do was draw extra attention to the fact they were triplets by dressing them the same.

When I do dress my triplets the same:

Okay, I have a confession to make. My partner and I are mad for a fancy dress occasion! I’m not referring to a black tie cocktail event here – I mean a Disney themed character or superhero party. The one thing that made me wiggle with excitement as our kids got a little bigger was the idea of family themed Halloween costumes, and being able to send them as a trio of characters from the same story for the school book week parade. Our efforts of always honoring their individuality bit me in the foot though as the closest we got was out girls wanting to dress as Anna and Elsa, but our son wanting to be a Toyota Camry. (sigh.) Eventually (at age 8) they decided to capitalise on a shared love of Harry Potter and go as Ron, Harry and Hermione to Book Week, much to the delight of their parents!

Why do people dress their triplets the same?

I have a few friends who have twins or triplets and dress them in matching outfits on a regular basis. I have always been (and continue to be) perplexed by their choice, but these are their reasons:

Reason 1 for dressing your children the same:

“It saves decision fatigue. I grab 2 (or 3) of something off the rack at the shops and I’m sorted. I also only have to decide what get out of the drawer once in the morning instead of thinking about what each child will wear.”

My response:
Firstly, I have bought very few brand new clothes for my kids when they were young because we were fortunate enough to be given many excellent quality second hand items. When they are growing so fast that you only get a season out of an outfit before they outgrow it, I’m pretty reluctant to go spending much on new items.

Secondly, there are many every day tasks that I understand can lead to decision fatigue… what to cook for dinner, what to wear myself etc. When it comes to young kids though, it’s just not difficult for me. Ninety percent of the time, they’re in play clothes (shorts, t-shirts, comfy dresses etc) and the only decision is if they need a jumper or not. Plus I think letting your kids choose what they want to wear and attempt to dress themselves is an important part of learning autonomy and basic motor skills. Not to mention the entertainment value that comes with kids picking their own “unique” combination of clothing items from the drawers to make up an outfit! I have great memories of taking my daughter to the shops at age 3 wearing tracksuit pants, a pink tutu and a leopard print jacket because that’s what she decided to wear that day!

Reason 2 for dressing your children the same:

“I don’t want there to be arguments over who wears what”

My response:
Toddlers will throw tantrums over unreasonable issues – this is as inevitable as death and taxes. I am very much someone who will “pick my battles”, although I’ve never relented my stance in response to a tantrum.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve always tried to keep certain items of clothing as “belonging” to an individual child. This can be really easy when they are different body shapes or one has sensory issues or dislikes for certain fabrics. I’ve found that most of the time, my kids have had their own personalities and interests, so if one likes flamingos and the other likes pandas, it’s easy to make them feel like their clothing reflects their individuality when you do go shopping. If my kids really want to wear matching items, I’ll certainly oblige, but it’s not something I’ve found to be common.
If there is a stand-out item of clothing that has been gifted to us that I know will cause arguments, I have either two choices. I source something very similar or the same so each child can have one, or I simply pass on it. A few years back I was given a pair of brand name shoes that lit up when you walked. These retail at around $100 new and had barely been worn (just outgrown) when passed on to us. There was no way I could afford to buy extra pairs and I knew all my kids would love them, so I simply put them aside before showing my children and passed them on to my niece.

Reason 3 for dressing your children the same:

“They like it.”

My response:
Do they really though, or do they like the way it makes you feel? Okay, I’m aware that my opinion here might ruffle some feathers, but hey, this is my blog so I get to say what I really think…

dressing triplets the same

There is undeniably a significant portion of multiple birth parents who just bloody love the attention. They might have “Twin Mommy” as a bumper sticker, or be the ones to let the local newspaper know when they triplets are available for a photo opportunity when they start school, celebrate Mothers Day, finish school etc. It’s my experience that these parents are the ones more likely to dress their kids the same (at least ones of the same genders) and this is why I believe this to be so.

For identical twins, I honestly cannot see any real reason why you would dress your children the same unless you want to draw people’s attention to the fact that you have twins. Seeing a matching set of outfits is eye-catching and will often draw attention at a park or playground. It makes it SO much harder for others to tell your children apart though, so means people either lump them together as a collective (“The Triplets”) or avoid having one on one interactions with them in case they make a mistake.

I have been a child going to school with identical twins and I remember avoiding talking to either of them because I was never sure who I was talking to and therefore didn’t want to seem silly. I’ve been an adult who struggled to tell my friends’ kids apart and for years had to start with “Which one are you?”, which sounds awful, but I felt was better than avoiding conversations and pretending! Once I knew who was who on a particular day I would quickly do a mental exercise to find whatever distinguishing features (usually by clothing) to help me get it right!

I actually love seeing parents who proactively make it easier for others to tell their identical children apart. It might be a different haircut or a consistent accessory such as a bracelet or a scrunchie that friends or teachers can learn is an identifying characteristic of each one’s appearance!

For fraternal siblings, I definitely feel like matching outfits is an attention grab. It’s making sure that no one assumes these are closely aged siblings or even friends – these are multiples, dammit! My own kids are so different in appearance, I don’t even think you’d pick them as siblings if you walked in to their classroom. There’s even around 12 cm in height between them! I honestly believe dressing your twins, triplets or more in matching clothes is a way of shouting at everyone, “Hey, over here! Did you know they’re multiples?”

If you’re reading this and you’re one of those parents, please don’t take this the wrong way. I think you’ve earned the bragging rights to let everyone know you’re a multiple birth parent and if you love talking to strangers about your kids and a little extra attention, then go for it. We are just very different creatures.

I just wish more parents would come out and say, “Heck yeah, I dress them the same. I want to make sure everyone notices I’m a bad ass parenting wizard who has managed multiple babies at once and get my credit where credit’s due!”

why do your dress your twins the same

Finally, Reason 4 for why you dress your children the same:

“I just really like them in matching outfits.”

My response:

Finally, an explanation I can’t argue with. I like putting cheese on my hot cross buns.

Some people think I’m weird. Many just don’t get it. I love it.

You do you.

Everything you need to know about sleeping arrangements for triplets.

Everything you need to know about sleeping arrangements for triplets.

As with so many aspects of parenting, deciding on sleeping arrangements when you have multiple babies requires more thought than if you were to be caring for a single baby. While parents expecting one newborn may have no problem fitting a cot or bassinet in their bedroom with them, space limitations might make fitting more than one cot in the room impractical. Do you keep your babies together in one crib or give them each their own space, but have them in a different room at night? What about once they start school? Do your triplets each have their own bedroom or should you keep them together? There is no “one size fits all” answer here, but this article will hopefully give you some things to consider when making decisions about sleeping arrangements for your triplets.

Will my newborn triplets share a crib in hospital?

Many triplets are born prematurely and this increases for higher order multiples such as quadruplets or more. Premature babies will often requires a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and may potentially require help with breathing and keeping warm, so may spend their early days or weeks in a humidicrib, hooked up to life saving specialist equipment. if your babies require this sort of intervention, they will likely have their own crib, so that it is easier for doctors to monitor them. Once your babies are strong enough to sleep in an open air crib, some hospitals may ask if you would like your babies to share a cot together, but this practice is becoming less common, so it’s important to accept that whatever your hospital prefers to do is in the best interests of your precious babies.

Hospitals in different parts of the world will have their own set of guidelines that they follow when it comes to co-sleeping multiples. These guidelines can vary from state to state and even just from one hospital to the next within the same geographical area. Most hospitals follow the Safe Sleep guidelines relating to SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy), which recommends each baby has their own sleeping space. These recommendations also advise that it’s best to have your baby sleeping in the same room as an adult for the first 6-12 months. Easy enough to achieve in hospital, but maybe less so once you get home.

sleeping arrangements for triplets

Sleeping arrangements for triplet newborns at home.

In order to reduce the risk of SUDI, you should be aiming to have each of your babies in their own safe cot and sleeping in the same room as an adult. As with everything when you have multiples, what’s ideal doesn’t always work! Logistically, you might not fit 3 or more cots in your room, so this is a decision you need to make according to what works best for you.

The safest way for two babies to share a cot is to sleep “head to head” with their feet at opposite ends of the cot (see image below).This positioning reduces the risk of the babies chances of smothering one another. Obviously with three or more babies, this set up isn’t possible and your babies may be sleeping side by side across the length of the cot until they get too long for this to be feasible. If separate cots mean spreading your babies across more than one room, you may be able to have one parent in each room with a camping mattress on the floor and share the load that way. Remember – safety and sanity is what’s important in these early days… who cares what your home looks like!

While your babies are small enough to fit into bassinets, this can also be a more compact way of fitting them all in your room, since bassinets are generally smaller. Otherwise you may decide to have 2 babies in a cot together and a single (or other 2 if you have quads) in a second cot.
Other things to consider are if you choose to use devices like movement sensors underneath your babies, you will need to have them in separate cots for this to work effectively. Also, some multiples are more in sync with their siblings than others. I know of parents who report that as soon as one baby started making sounds as they got hungry, the others would wake up and it would be really hectic getting everyone up and fed at the same time. For those parents, having their babies sleep in different rooms to one another made it a little easier to get one baby up before the next one woke. Then there are those babies who will happily sleep through any noise!

Image courtesy of Red Nose Australia

Sleeping arrangements for triplet toddlers

Toddler beds are a great transition from cribs to single beds as they are lower to the ground and have a partial side rail to help prevent any falls. they’re also much smaller than single beds so might allow you to fit all your kids in one room for a bit longer. Toddlers sharing a room can be a lot of fun as they entertain themselves and have cute little conversations. It can also make settling down for sleep more challenging, so you need to do what works best for your family! Some of my favorite memories of my triplets as toddlers is capturing the adorable games they played amongst themselves when it was supposed to be nap time by filming them through a crack in the door! It doesn’t always seem quite so cute when you are sleep deprived and desperate!

Many families with multiples look into bunk bed options, which are great for maximising space and keeping siblings sharing a room. If you haven’t had bunk beds before, be warned that the changing of sheets on a top bunk is far more labour intensive than a regular bed. If you have any physical limitations such as back or upper body injuries, I would urge you to think twice before going down the bunk bed path. Ask friends if anyone has a set of bunks and have a try of changing the sheets there first, so you know what you’re in for before committing!

Are barefoot shoes for kids better than “supportive” footwear?

Are barefoot shoes for kids better than “supportive” footwear?

I want to talk about supportive shoes for children, or rather NOT putting children in supportive shoes. A disclaimer first – I am not a medical professional. I am a mum of three, simply speaking about my own experiences and reiterating the advice of many passionate podiatrists. Having been educated on this issue myself over the past 5 years, I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard the mantra of “children need supportive shoes for their growing feet”. My own parents were given this parenting advice and followed it diligently. I found myself clip-clopping off to school in a brand new pair of Clarks shoes each year that ticked all the boxes of “arch support”, “cushioned heel cup” and “durable soles”. They cost a pretty penny, looked smart and were about as comfortable as a trip to the dentist for the first 4 weeks. As my own kids started approaching school age, I was making my own transition to more minimalist running shoes under advice of a podiatrist. I started seeking advice about school shoes for my kids and had everything I had previously learned about kids shoes turned on it’s head.

Now, I need to mention that this article is referring to regular, healthy kids feet. There are indeed some cases where a deformity or weakness in the foot structure may indeed require some sort of support, but will discuss that more later on. If in doubt, see a podiatrist and if still in doubt, talk to several. I am a huge advocate for getting a second opinion!

Are barefoot shoes better for kids?

Children’s feet are inherently healthy. They have 33 joints in each foot and they know how to move them. Have you paid attention to how much a baby or a toddler can stretch and wiggle their toes? Joints are there for one reason – to bend and move! If you’ve ever had a joint immobilised for a period due to injury, you’ll know how weak the muscles around it are when you’re finally allowed to start moving it again.

Placing our children’s healthy, mobile feet in supportive, rigid shoes when there is no problem is done under the belief we are helping them. In reality, many shoes stop a lot of those 33 joints from moving, causing the muscles to become weak. This can potentially lead to a host of issues down the track with balance, coordination and misalignment in the feet.

Why do toddlers rip their shoes off at the first opportunity? Because they’re uncomfortable! I’ve heard parents claim their child has flat feet or that their feet roll inwards so they need arch support. Feet come in a variety of shapes, just like other parts of our bodies – unless there is a problem, maybe your child just has flat feet? It’s also very common for young children to have feet that roll inwards slightly and this usually corrects itself as the foot develops and strengthens. Consult a podiatrist first before actively “fixing” them with supportive shoes. On that note, get a feel for your podiatrist’s way of thinking. Some are quick to “correct” most feet with orthotics, while others focus on the strengthening and functionality of the feet themselves.

What are the best type of shoes for kids feet?

Podiatrists, just like any other health professional have their own opinions. I have seen podiatrists who literally prescribe polar opposite methods of treatment. I also see podiatrists recommending certain shoes that others specifically tell you to avoid! My family and I have had several issues resolved since switching to a podiatrist that supports minimalist footwear, so that’s the school of thought I am reflecting in this article. At the end of the day, you do you.

Podiatrists who advocate the wearing of barefoot shoes for kids stick to four main criteria when it comes to the best shoes you can put healthy, growing feet into.

Rule #1: Kids shoes should be lightweight.

Your child’s walking pattern (gait) can be negatively impacted by a heavy shoe. Take a look at just how bulky many kid’s shoes are – they often have chunky soles that are a similar thickness to an adult shoe and weigh a similar amount, yet your child is much smaller and lighter. Heavy footwear can even affect their incidental activity levels, though they may not be consciously aware that it’s because of the weight of their shoes.

Rule #2: Kids shoes should not have a raised heel.

Have you noticed how many children’s shoes (especially school shoes) have a raised or stepped heel? Raising the heel causes the ankle to shift by lifting the heel higher than the toes and subsequently the knees, hips, spine and neck to adjust to a new position. Long term implications can include achilles and calf issues, as well as a predisposition to hamstring, knee and back injuries. The excessive cushioning on the heel of many sports shoes can also lead to poor running technique. Heel strikers are predisposed to many more injuries due to the repeated forces their joints have to endure each time the foot hits the pavement. With less heel cushioning, a runner is forced to strike the ground on more of the mid or forefoot, using the shock absorbing anatomy of the foot to take the load instead as it was designed to do.

Rule #3: Kids shoes should be wide.

The toes are the widest part of the foot. A healthy foot, that is. Many adult feet have changed their shape from years of poorly shaped footwear. The toes ability to spread out allows balance and strength just like spreading your fingers when doing a handstand. So many shoes have a narrow, triangular shaped toe box, which pulls the big toe across the foot and squishes the toes together. Your big toe joint is a massive part of how your foot works, providing power and forward propulsion. When it isn’t in proper alignment, it loses a significant amount of that power.

One of the biggest differences between kids barefoot shoes and regular shoes is the wide toe box allowing the toes to spread out. My own kids have worn different brands of barefoot shoes for almost 5 years and now find many other shoes feel incredibly narrow and rigid.

Rule #4: Kids shoes should be flexible.

If a foot is designed to bend and twist, surely a shoe should allow that sort of movement? The rigid soles that only flex across the toe line reduce so much of the foot’s ability to move, resulting in weak muscles in the foot structure. Pick up your kids shoes and see how much you can bend or twist them with your hands. I am constantly surprised at the slabs of rigid rubber we strap to the bottoms of our feet and even more so at why we think that’s so normal! Our feet and ankles are designed to adapt constantly as we move adjusting balance and shifting weight according to the proprioception of the ground beneath us. How can we possible do that when we have an inch of rigid or overly cushioned foreign matter between us and the ground?

The biggest epiphany for me was when my podiatrist made the following analogy, so I’d like to share it with you:

When you injure your shoulder, you might have it immobilised for a bit while it heals, but then you start doing rehab and you aim to improve mobility and strength. You don’t put your shoulder in a brace for the rest of your life.
When you experience lower back pain, the answer isn’t to wear a girdle for the rest of your life to provide support. Ideally, you identify the weak glutes or core muscles that have lead to the back pain and you work to strengthen those areas. This takes the load of the back, which was feeling sore because other muscles weren’t working effectively.
So why is it that when it comes to our feet (with 33 joints and 20 muscles in each), we treat pain or dysfunction by reducing mobility and adding more support through “better” shoes and orthotics, rather than giving the feet the ability to regain strength and mobility.

I feel better in supportive shoes, so why wouldn’t my child?

There is much debate around the need for “supportive” shoes for adult feet. This is because adult feet have already endured decades of potentially incorrect footwear, gait imbalances or weaknesses that have gone uncorrected over hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of steps. Good or bad, an adult’s feet have altered to the shoes, lifestyle and stressors that have been placed upon them. Sometimes an adult’s feet will respond well and gain a lot from wearing minimalist shoes, but there are occasions where some sort of added cushioning or support is the only option for comfort and functionality.

I’m around forty years old and most of my friends are between the ages of 30 and 55. Over recent years, I’ve noticed that around two thirds of my friends have some sort of issue with their feet, knees, hips or lower back. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, meniscus tears – you name it. Some don’t have an official diagnosis, but have been placed in orthotics to relieve mysterious pain or have just swapped out running for cycling because their joints couldn’t take it anymore. My friends aren’t especially overweight, most have lead pretty active, healthy lifestyles and played sport well into adult life. They wore the same rigid school shoes as I did growing up and spent their recreation time in trendy looking joggers with fat, shock absorbing soles, triangular (athletic looking) toe boxes and plenty of inbuilt cushioning and support. Yet, here we are as adults in pain.

My own transition to barefoot shoes, for context.

After years of distance running in top quality $400 joggers that were prescribed for me in the sports store as a mild pronator, I developed plantar fasciitis that had me in agony simply walking around the grocery store. I saw a physio who prescribed even more cushioned shoes that I was to wear at all times, even when walking on sand. When that didn’t help, he added a heel cup and a soft orthotic combined with calf stretches. I started to question the logic after months of no improvement. The calf stretching was being negated by the tower of heel cushioning I was wearing, elevating me so my calves were in fact being shortened as I walked around. It didn’t make sense and it sure wasn’t working.

Then I met my podiatrist and I was one of the lucky ones. He changed everything I was doing and started me on a strengthening program as well as helping me to change my previous running form as a heel striker. Progress was slow, but finally, there was progress! I now wear minimalist shoes or go barefoot around 70% of the time. It’s not always possible as I have to wear safety boots for work. I also like a pretty pair of heels when I frock up now and again, but I spend as little time as possible in restrictive shoes. My feet no longer hurt and have changed shape slightly. It isn’t noticeable to the eye, but my feet are definitely wider as I have shoes which used to feel comfortable that now feel like they hold my toes too close together. My toes are also more flexible -I have regained movement in parts of my feet that I hadn’t even realised I’d lost!

What are the best barefoot shoes for kids?

The awesome news here is that the minimalist footwear movement seems to be growing and there are an increasing number of options available when it come to kids barefoot shoes. The most well known brand is definitely Vivo Barefoot, and they are reliable, high quality shoes, with a cute range of kids sizes. Our kids have outgrown all of their Vivos before wearing them out and we’ve passed them on to other grateful families who have squeezed much more life out of them. Another brand we have bought several pairs from is Xero Shoes. Xero come in a little cheaper than Vivo, which definitely helps when you have kids the same age and can’t re-use them in your own family! I have seen my kids wear out their Xeros before growing out of them, so I guess you get what you pay for, but I have no problem buying from Xero again – they are still an excellent shoe. The newest player on the field that we’ve tried out is Splay Shoes. Splay tick all the boxes of wide, flat, lightweight and flexible as well as being competitive on price. The only problem with Splay is that their availability of certain sizes and colours can be limited, but I attribute this to being a newer business, still juggling the supply and demand side of things. Really happy with what we have purchased from Splay so far, though. I have no doubt that there will be more competition in this niche over coming years so keep your eye on the marketplace for kids barefoot shoes!

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE LOOKING AFTER YOUR TEETH DURING PREGNANCY

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE LOOKING AFTER YOUR TEETH DURING PREGNANCY

When you’re pregnant, there are so many things on the “to-do” list, like buying baby related products, doctors appointments and ultrasounds, clothes to fit your growing belly, maternity leave or work arrangements, finances and even considering how parenthood will affect your relationship with your partner. Dental health is not usually high on the priority list for most pregnant women, but actually, it should be.

How does pregnancy affect your teeth?

The hormonal changes of pregnancy can result in inflammation of the gums (often experienced as bleeding gums). Pregnancy gingivitis (gum disease) has been shown across several studies to affect between 30-100% of pregnant women, usually beginning in the second month of the pregnancy and increasing from there. Advanced gum disease during pregnancy can sometimes result in loose teeth and has been linked to low birth weights and premature births.

Some movement in the teeth can also occur during pregnancy due to the presence of the hormone Relaxin. This hormone is designed to help loosen and relax the ligaments that will assist with bodily changes and eventually childbirth, but it can affect other ligaments causing hip and back pain through hypermobility and also allow the teeth to shift as the ligaments that help the teeth bind to the jaw and gums soften. It’s not generally anything to be concerned about, but if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment such as braces, it’s worth letting your orthodontist know about your pregnancy as soon as possible.

looking after your teeth during pregnancy

The risk of tooth decay can be higher during pregnancy for a few reasons:

 – Hormonal changes increase acidity in the mouth. (Acid and your tooth enamel are not friends);

 – Women suffering from severe nausea and vomiting expose their teeth to the acidic contents of their last meal on a repeated basis;

 -Sugar intake may be higher due to cravings for certain foods

– Grazing on food all day may occur due to either suppression of nausea or for some women (particularly those carrying a multiple pregnancy), they may have a reduced stomach capacity, but increased appetite). Constantly eating means your mouth keep producing acid to start the digestion process.

 – Oral hygiene can take a back seat as for some women, their gag reflex increased during pregnancy, which can make using a toothbrush uncomfortable.

How can you protect your teeth during pregnancy?

Maintaining good oral hygiene, having a professional clean with your dentist and a good diet are the best things you can do for your teeth during pregnancy. If you find yourself needing to eat more regularly throughout the day, try to make good nutrition choices and rinse your mouth out after each meal, to help remove food particles that may be stuck to the teeth. Brushing twice a day and flossing is recommended all the time in order to look after your oral health, but is especially important during pregnancy.

How can your pregnancy affect your unborn baby’s future dental work?

A lot of enamel quality is influenced by the health of the child (or the mother) in utero. The baby teeth (milk teeth) develop between the 6 and 8 week mark of a pregnancy (when many women haven’t even realised they are pregnant) and the hardening of the enamel is competed by the 20th week in utero. This means that if there are nutritional deficiencies or illness (especially one that requires antibiotics) during certain stages of the pregnancy, this can affect the enamel quality.

Nutrition is important in preconception and during pregnancy. Women need to load up on their intake of enough calories, protein and numerous vitamins such as A, C and D as well as important minerals such as calcium, phosphate for proper tooth formation.

It’s during the third trimester of pregnancy that the unborn baby accumulates overall stores of calcium and phosphate and Vitamin D. In the case of premature babies, they can miss out on some of these goodies and this may be worth talking to a health professional about after they are born to see if these can be taken as supplements. For babies who make it to full term, they are reliant on the nutritional intake of the mother during this important phase of pregnancy. Once baby teeth emerge, products such as tooth mousse may be appropriate for remineralising the teeth, but it’s worth chatting to your paediatric dentist about the options.

When should you visit a dentist during pregnancy?

visit dentist during pregnancy

Routine dental treatment can be performed safely throughout a pregnancy, but it’s important to advise your dentist regardless. Lying back for extended periods is not recommended during the later stages of pregnancy as the pressure can restrict blood flow to your unborn baby. If you’ve left it a little late, discuss how your dentist can position you in order to minimise any risks.

If you don’t manage to make it to the dentist during your pregnancy, book yourself in for after your baby is born so you can have a routine check up to make sure everything is in order.

Divorce Rates for Parents of Triplets and what you need to know to avoid the statistics

Divorce Rates for Parents of Triplets and what you need to know to avoid the statistics

Although bringing home a new baby is never easy, you can at least prepare for many of the challenges that parenthood brings. You can psych yourself up to understand that you’re not going to sleep properly for the next 3-17 years. You can come to terms with the fact that you will be forever tripping over toys and stepping on crayons. You can even learn to love Peppa Pig. You can, I promise.

However, there are some parts of becoming a new parent that you just can’t predict, expect, or prevent. Some new parents face depression, while others may be dealing with problems breastfeeding, health concerns, or a number of other issues. For some couples, a baby puts an immense and unexpected strain on their relationship.

Even a perfect baby who is eating and sleeping and smiling ever so sweetly can lead to relationship challenges. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to figure out that triplets can multiply those challenges by three! In fact, a 2012 study showed that divorce rates in parents of multiples were significantly higher than other families. Yes, raising multiple babies at once will put a strain on your relationship (especially for first-time parents), but it doesn’t have to break it. Read on to learn about strengthening your relationship after bringing home triplets.

Understanding why divorce rates in parents of multiples are higher

Firstly, it’s important to realise that the study mentioned above didn’t find a staggeringly high divorce rate in parents of multiples – just a little higher than other parents. Having multiples certainly doesn’t make you destined to be dividing up your belongings anytime soon. That said, there are a few reasons why divorce rates in parents of multiples seem to be higher:

  • Emotional struggles. Raising multiples can be incredibly draining. Mothers of triplets are more susceptible to postnatal depression, which can also affect the health of your marriage (and other relationships). Many new fathers of multiples also experience emotional challenges adjusting to their new life.
  • Financial uncertainty. Babies are expensive, and triplets typically come with triple the cost. You may get a few “buying in bulk” discounts, but all those hungry mouths can certainly strain a relationship or make you concerned about the future of your finances.
  • Time constraints. We always hear that relationships are built on trust, but they’re also built over time. Discussing your individual days over a glass of wine, cooking dinner together, or even just snuggling on the couch are all things that build and strengthen a relationship. If there’s one thing that triplets know how to do, it’s suck every second out of your day. Not having time with your partner can sometimes create a void between the two of you that can be difficult to fill.

If triplets are now sounding like a bad idea, please don’t be alarmed. There are so many amazing benefits of raising multiples; it’s just also important to be aware of the challenges so that you can face them head-on. Many married couples raise multiples and live happily ever after. Here are their secrets.

How to strengthen your relationship when raising multiples

Just because divorce rates in parents of multiples are slightly higher than other parents, it doesn’t mean that your babies won’t be the best thing that ever happened for you and your partner. Here are some of the ways you can use your munchkins to bring you together.

  • Celebrate the little wins together. With multiples, one baby falling asleep is the cue for the others to start screaming in harmony. Although you may not get a moment’s peace and quiet, there are other things you can celebrate, like changing nappies in record time, or finding the ideal way of rocking your new little ones to sleep. Make sure you celebrate these moments – there’s always time for a quick high five!
  • Communicate your needs. Your partner wants to help – they probably just don’t know how. Make sure you’re very specific about what you need, and definitely don’t expect them to just know what to do. This is new territory for both of you, and it needs to be conquered together.
  • Re-connect in little ways. It might be a while until you can plan your next date night at a restaurant (or until you even have the energy to stay awake to make it to dessert), but there are other ways to re-connect and reduce any distance that may be creeping in. Summon the energy to spend a few minutes hearing about your partner’s day. If you’re both too tired to talk, just hug.

Don’t let the fact that there are slightly higher divorce rates in parents of multiples put you off. Raising triplets sure is a crazy rollercoaster ride (with somehow even more screaming than an actual rollercoaster), but there’s every chance that you and your partner will love each three times as much because of it.

Mental Health in Parents of Multiples: How to Stay Sane with your New Babies

Mental Health in Parents of Multiples: How to Stay Sane with your New Babies

Having a baby on the way is exciting, daunting, fascinating, and overwhelming – all at once! Even if you’re already a parent, you have to prepare yourself for how this will change your life (again). Finding out that you’re expecting MULTIPLE babies is a whole new ballgame – how can you even prepare for that?! Caring for one baby takes all of your time, energy, and money – how are you supposed to look after three or more of them and not go crazy?!

Although looking after yourself may seem like a lower priority than caring for all of your new additions, prioritising mental health in parents of multiples is essential. Studies have shown that parents of multiples are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and stress compared to those raising a single baby. The fact is, you can’t expect to be able to care for them well if you aren’t taking care of yourself.

Read on to learn how to manage your mental health and stay sane with multiple babes underfoot.

What challenges in mental health do parents of mutiples face?

depression after triplets

Raising multiple babies at once will likely be one of the most difficult challenges you ever experience. Even the most grounded, prepared, organised new parent will likely experience some form of mental health struggle when raising multiples – it’s just a lot to deal with. Some of the most common mental health challenges that parents of multiples may face include:

  • Baby blues. This is an incredibly common, normal condition that affects around 80% of new mothers. The cyclone of hormones in your body causes crazy mood swings, feelings of sadness/irritability, difficulty sleeping, and other fun symptoms. The baby blues can be tough, but symptoms usually resolve within around two weeks of giving birth. Since many higher order multiple births (triplets or more) involve a lengthier stay in hospital, its’ likely that you will have professional help on hand. Use this opportunity to talk through any tough emotions you’re experiencing and they can probably help you normalise those feelings and move through them easier.
  • Postnatal Depression. For many new mothers, postnatal depression symptoms are similar to the baby blues, but do not resolve within two weeks of having your baby. Once several weeks have passed and you’re still not feeling “okay”, it’s probably time to have a chat with your doctor. It’s also worth mentioning that new fathers of multiples frequently experience postnatal depression – this condition affects more than one in ten new dads. This condition should be treated seriously, not brushed off as ‘adjusting to the normal’ or ‘just exhausted’. Those are real things that are happening, but if you or your partner are having trouble bonding with your child, feeling highly agitated, teary or low mood, consider looking in to it a little further.
  • Anxiety and stress. Although constant anxiety and stress are often considered normal parts of raising a baby (or three… or four), they shouldn’t be. Of course there will be stressful moments, but constantly feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed isn’t normal, and can have long-term effects on the health of you, your partner, and your new babies.

You may be more susceptible to these conditions if you have experienced any form of depression or anxiety in the past, or if it runs in your family. Similarly, new mums who have a challenging pregnancy, have previously experienced the baby blues, or have a history of postnatal depression may be more likely to experience mental health struggles when parenting multiples.

When you’re Expecting: Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health in Parents of Multiples

Just as it’s important to prepare your home for multiple babies, it’s equally important to prepare your mind. From the day you learn you’re having triplets you can start taking action to mentally prepare yourself for the arrival of your babies and give yourself the best possible chance of staying on top of your mental health after your babies arrive. Here are some steps to take during pregnancy that will help maintain good mental health in parents of multiples:

  • Stay active. Non-weight bearing exercises that are gentle on your joints are a great way to keep both your body and your mind healthy during a multiples pregnancy. Try yoga, water aerobics, or pilates. A good, clinical pilates program helped me navigate my pregnancy without experiencing back pain and I personally found being in the water was an immense relief in the later stages of pregnancy as it took all the weight off me. Of course every pregnancy and every woman is different, so discuss your exercise plan with your doctor first.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Reduce your stress and anxiety levels by planning ahead for the arrival of your babies. Remember that triplets and quads will most likely arrive early – make sure you have all of your big baby purchases taken care of (car seats, pram, cots etc), a place for your babies to sleep, and lots of meals in the freezer. Consider having someone able to help walk your dog or feed your pets while you’re in hospital and having plenty of essentials – tinned food, toilet paper and diapers stocked up!
  • Join a support group. Even if you have a great network of friends and family to help you out, there’s value in finding a group of other expecting mums to spend time with. Sharing your fears, excitement, and struggles can be a great release, and it’s always reassuring to know that you’re not alone on this crazy journey.
    On this note, some parents of multiples can find being around a group of those expecting single babies makes them feel even more isolated. Find out if there’s a multiple births association or group in your area – these parents of twins and more will likely be more relateable and have some nuggets of wisdom to share with you.

Bringing Home Your Babies: Helping Mental Health in Parents of Multiple Newborns

Once your babies enter the world, your life will likely be turned upside down. The mental health of parents with multiples often takes a backseat when they bring their babies home as ‘survival mode’ takes over. Here are some tips for managing the mental health struggles you might face when your triplets arrive:

  • Eat the right foods. Make sure you’re not only eating enough, but that you’re also eating the right foods. Balanced meals and regular snacks every couple of hours will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, which can boost your mental health and help you feel less frazzled or overwhelmed. It’s so easy to fall in to a trap of quick, high carb meals such as pasta, cereal or a handful of potato chips to get you by when you’re constantly on the go. Trust me when I say that good food will make you feel so much better! Pop a tray of carrots, sweet potatoes and beets in the oven once a week so you have some ready cooked veg in the fridge to simply reheat. A tub of hummus with carrot, bell pepper or a cucumber is a quick, yet healthy snack or a handful of almonds to get you through till dinnertime. Try to have easy, mess free options on hand such as bananas, berries and cherry tomatoes.
  • Reduce your social media use. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, but seeing pictures of your friends catching up for coffee isn’t always helpful when you’re sleep-deprived and drowning in diapers. Don’t compare yourself to others, either! Just because someone posts a picture of their baby sleeping, doesn’t mean they have a perfect baby that ALWAYS sleeps. People share their wins online and rarely the tough moments. Instead, set up a group chat with just a few trusted friends or try finding a podcast that makes you feel good and listen to that in the wee hours of the morning.
  • Communicate with your partner. It’s important to let your partner know if you feel as though you’re struggling. This will give them a chance to help you out as much as possible and look out for your mental health. You may even be surprised to learn that they’re feeling the same way, which can be oddly comforting. It’s unlikely that any parent of multiples of is feeling ‘excellent’ in the early days, but if you can be open and honest, then you may find you can lift a little when your partner is doing it particularly tough and they can do the same for you.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or just generally feel as though your babies are bringing you down, it’s important to take action. Mental health in parents of multiples should not be neglected just because you have your hands full. Talk to your partner, talk to a friend, and talk to your doctor to find a solution that helps you get back to loving life with your triplets.

Postnatal Depression and Triplets – you’re not alone.

Postnatal Depression and Triplets – you’re not alone.

If you’ve experienced the “joys” of pregnancy, you’ll know firsthand that there’s not a single part of your body that’s unaffected by all the fun hormonal changes you’re going through. Unfortunately, hormones continue to rule your life after you give birth. They are incredibly important – they help keep you and your baby happy and allow you to do things like produce milk. Still, these intense hormonal changes can also wreak havoc on your mental health and cause severe conditions like postnatal depression.

For new mothers of triplets, postnatal depression is especially common. It’s been fairly well established that caring for multiple babies puts you at a higher risk of developing postnatal depression. Even if you’re enjoying your pregnancy (apparently it’s possible) and feeling great about life, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression, because you never know what your body has in store for you after you give birth. Read on to learn all you need to know about triplets and postnatal depression.

What exactly IS postnatal depression?

Postpartum depression triplets

Firstly, it’s important to understand that postnatal depression is not the same as what is often called the “baby blues”. The baby blues is very common – it’s estimated that 70-80% of new mothers experience some form of baby blues. The baby blues usually involve feeling sad, crying for no real reason, feeling impatient, irritable, anxious, restless, and undergoing extreme mood swings.

Of course, a new baby (or especially multiple babies) is a HUGE change in your life, and it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by everything you’re experiencing. As you slowly adjust and settle into life with your newborn, the baby blues gradually subsides. Most new mums are feeling a lot better within around a fortnight of delivering their babies.

If your symptoms are severe or last longer than a couple of weeks, you might be experiencing something more serious than the baby blues. Postnatal (or postpartum) depression affects around one in nine new mothers (though, as mentioned, postnatal depression with triplets is more common) and needs to be addressed immediately.

It’s not known exactly what causes postnatal depression, but good old hormones are believed to play a role. The hormonal changes experienced immediately after giving birth are intense – your levels of estrogen and progesterone are sky-high at the end of your pregnancy, then plummet within 24 hours after you have your baby.

How do you know if you have postnatal depression after triplets?

Let’s be honest, there’s nothing easy about having triplets. The mood swings start during pregnancy, and they don’t let up once your bubs enter the world. You haven’t slept for months, you don’t remember the last time you had a second to yourself, and you’re seriously second-guessing your ability to look after THREE of these helpless little blobs. All of these feelings are a normal part of having triplets. Even with the most helpful support network of cheerleading champions, it’s completely normal to feel like you’ve reached your limit. Here’s what’s not normal:

  • Crying frequentlyfor no reason, especially if it is still happening a month or more after giving birth
  • Often feeling worthless or hopeless, even though your babies are healthy and happy, and everyone around you is telling you that you’re doing a great job
  • Not bonding with your babies or enjoying your time with them
  • Lack of appetite despite your body needing more calories and nutrients than ever before
  • Inability to sleep (in the rare instances you get an opportunity to) even though you’re exhausted
  • Anxiousness or panic attacks or being unable to complete daily tasks
  • Thoughts of harming your babies or yourself

These are very serious symptoms and are all indicators of postnatal depression with triplets. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible – they can help you find the right treatment so that you can get back to being a supermum.

Reducing the chances of postnatal depression after triplets

postnatal depression triplets

Once you learn you’re having triplets, it’s important to understand that your risk of postnatal depression increases. You’re also at a higher risk if you’ve experienced depression before or if it runs in your family. Although hormonal changes are out of our control, there are still a few things you can do (during pregnancy and after you give birth) that may help to reduce your chances of developing postnatal depression after triplets:

  • Rest up. Yes, yes, it’s not exactly easy to sleep comfortably when you’re pregnant with triplets, or after they’re born and refuse to go down at the same time. However, getting enough sleep will make a world of difference to your mental health. Try for a four-hour block of uninterrupted sleep if possible – you’ll feel incredible.
  • Stay active. In general, exercise is great for keeping depression at bay, and this holds true for postnatal depression as well. When you’re feeling up to it, try some light stretching, yoga, or even a short walk outside to keep stress hormones like cortisol at bay.
  • Ask for help. It’s TRIPLETS. You can’t do this on your own, and you shouldn’t try. There are probably heaps of people around you who would love to help out – you just have to tell them what you need! Make the most of your support network; it’s what they’re for.
  • Treat yourself. There’s nothing selfish about self-care. Look after your mental health by taking some time out to have a bath, call a friend, or do whatever else helps you to relax and reset.

Triplets and postnatal depression – how to find help

Postnatal depression is a very serious condition and needs to be treated right away. For postnatal depression and triplets, make sure you consult your doctor right away. There are also lots of resources available if you believe you may be suffering from postnatal depression, or if you would just like someone to talk to:

Postpartum Support International – Australian Resources

Beyond Blue

COPE

Don’t hesitate to reach out – postnatal depression after triplets is far more common than you may realise and is no reflection on you, your coping mechanisms, or your parenting skills.

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