If your twins are born prematurely – don’t worry, because this is quite common for twin babies in comparison with singleton pregnancies. In fact, about half of all twins are born prematurely (before week 37). A preterm birth is when you start having contractions and true labor after your 20th week of pregnancy and more than 3 weeks before your due date.
Most premature babies are usually put in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to the health complications that might occur, and until their immature systems are stabilized. Doctors, nurses and medical staff will monitor your babies’ health closely throughout that time.
It’s normal to be stressed about the situation, but unfortunately, you have little to no control over it. You might even have to ask for permission to touch your babies, but most of the time you will be watching them through the window of the incubator.
Nevertheless, you still can show care for your preemie twins as research supports the importance of parental nurturing of twin preemies. Here is what you can do to form a bond with your newborns during their NICU stay.
How Long Do Premature Babies Stay in NICU?
First, let’s start with some good news. Advances in medical care mean that the outcomes of premature births are more positive, and even the tiniest of babies have a great chance of surviving and living long healthy lives.
The chances of complications and the duration of your preemie twins’ stay in the NICU are determined based on the category your babies are in. They are generally categorized the following way:
- Extremely preterm (or also called micro-preemie): Babies born at or before week 28. Typically ready for discharge two to three weeks before their due date unless there are complications
- Very preterm. Babies born at or before week 32. Usually, go home a couple of weeks before or right around their original due date
- Moderate preterm. Born from 32 to 34 weeks of pregnancy. The discharge varies anywhere from just after birth to a few days or a few weeks
- Late preterm. Born from 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. The discharge varies anywhere from just after birth to a few days or a few weeks
- Early term. Born between 37 to 39 weeks of pregnancy. Most babies in this category don’t have to spend any time at all in the NICU. At most, it will likely take a few days to a few weeks maximum
How Can You Help Your Preemie Twins?
It’s definitely not easy seeing your twin preemies in the NICU feeling helpless. But you don’t have to feel that way, because there are certain things you can do to help your babies. To find out to what extent you can be of help, speak with the doctors at the NICU.
If your twins fall in the late preterm or early preterm, category and are in a non-critical state, then you will most likely be allowed to feed them, change their diapers and assist with other small procedures.
If you aren’t able to handle them on your own, you can help in other ways, too. For example, you can take their laundry home to wash, bring blankets, etc.
Perhaps the most important way you can help as a mother is by pumping breast milk for your babies. We recommend you use the Haakaa Manual Breast Pump, because it lets you express milk using the power of natural suction. Made out of silicone, this manual breast pump is lightweight, portable, and designed to suit all kinds of breasts. Moreover, it is recommended by nursing mums, magazines, celebrities, doulas, and lactation consultants all over the world, so make sure you get yours, as well.
Breast Milk is super critical for the progress of premature babies because it contains vital nutrients that help to prevent infection and promote growth. Even if your babies cannot receive breast milk at first, you can freeze the pumped milk for later use.
How to Bond with Your Twin Preemies?
As parents of preemie twins, you will want to create that special family bond with your babies but you might feel like this is hindered by the fact that your babies are kept in the NICU. Still, there are certain things you can do to bond with your newborns.
For example, you can create a recording of your voice talking, singing, or reading to your babies. There is nothing more soothing and comforting than a mother’s voice. You can also put up pictures of loved ones from your extended family so that your babies can start familiarizing themselves with their family members.
Why not personalize the incubators with stuffed animals, name tags, and comfy cushions? Get each of your babies the Bedtime Originals Choo Choo Express Plush Elephant – Humphrey, and they will feel like a piece of you is always there with them.
Get to know your babies. Observe their movements and gestures, what they like, what their reactions are. These are precious creatures that just need some love and attention to grow into healthy humans. Use this time to take pictures of them every single day and to document the progress of their development. They are your survivors, at the end of the day, and you will really appreciate the progress they’ve made when you look at those pictures.
How to Stay Positive During This Time?
Yes, this is a really hard period for the whole family, but it’s definitely not the time to get discouraged. You are the biggest support network your babies have right now and your role is to simply be there for them and love them.
Spend as much time as possible with them even if you’re only allowed to look at them and perform small chores. You’ve given them the best gift ever – that of life, so help them sustain it. Try to stay as positive as possible and be thankful for every single breath of your little angels.
A good way to stay positive is to plan for the future when your babies are out of the NICU and you’re ready to welcome them home. Have you thought about what they’re going to wear on the day they’re being released and for their very first family photos? Imagine how cute they’d look in the Miracle Onesies by TwinStuff? As the slogan reads, “sometimes when you wish for a miracle – you get two”. Cherish your two miracles!
Preemie Twins: How to Handle?
Having preemie twins is one of the hardest things for new parents to handle, because of the many potential complications and the risk to the life of your newborn babies. Instead of developing severe anxiety, however, there are certain things you can do to help the growth process of your preemie twins while they’re in NICU.
The preterm category your babies are in will determine how much you can actually help. The most important thing you can do is provide breast pump milk for your babies, create a special bond with your newborns, and simply show them love and care.