How to look after your mental health during and after your twin pregnancy

You might feel over the moon when you find out you’re having twins – or you might feel a little shocked, scared, amused, or any other emotion on the vast spectrum. Here's some advice for any prospective twin mum.

Alison Perry, Dr Emma Svanberg & Dr Emma Hepburn

In OMG It’s Twins!, author and twin mum Alison Perry talks you through everything you need to know, from pregnancy to birth and beyond. To complement her own experiences, Perry also sought out advice from a whole host of experts. Here, two psychologists share some advice on how twin mums (and all new and expectant mums) can look after their mental health.

A photo of twin pregnancy scan with pink baby boots and blue baby boots on a marble background.
Image: Getty

4 things to remember about your mental health during your twin pregnancy

by Dr Emma Svanberg (@mumologist), clinical psychologist

1. Don’t underestimate how vulnerable a twin pregnancy can leave you. You’re going through a monumental transition in life and you may be worried about additional stressors like disrupted sleep, financial pressures, and the worry of looking after two babies.

2. If you have experienced a mental health problem in the past, you are feeling unsupported, worried about your living situation or you have complications during your pregnancy, those things can all make you more likely to suffer from anxiety or low mood (and less commonly, obsessive-compulsive disorders, or more acute difficulties such as bipolar disorder and psychosis).

3. If you are worried about your mental health, speak to your midwife about it and get the support you need. There may be specialist local mental-health services that can support you.

4. If you have supportive relationships with your partner, family, and friends, let them know how they can help you. If you find it hard to think about what could feel supportive (it’s often hard to know what can help), sometimes just having space to talk about how you’re feeling and have someone validate and listen can be powerful.

How to look after your mental health in the fourth trimester

by Dr Emma Hepburn (@thepsychologymum), clinical psychologist

1. Allow yourself to rest and recover from giving birth

Try not to put pressure on yourself to get back to your ‘pre-babies life’. See this as the fourth trimester and understand what to expect during this period.

2. Manage your own expectations about what you will be doing post-birth

Surviving and helping your babies thrive as much as you can are the most realistic expectations you can have.

3. Allow some flexibility in your standards

Does it really matter if the house is messy or you decide to stay in your pyjamas all day? We just don’t have the capacity to do everything and at this time your and your babies’ needs are the most important things there are.

4. Plan help if possible

Arrange for people to support you, particularly at vulnerable points, for example, your partner’s return to work.

5. Plan in small pockets of enjoyment

Listen to podcasts while you’re feeding. Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place might lift your mood, The Scummy Mummies could give you a laugh or if you’re keen to stay in touch with the real-world. BBC Woman's Hour is a good one. Audiobooks are another great option. Choose a nice gentle read like a Marian Keyes or Jojo Moyes novel. Schedule in an hour when your partner is on duty with the twins and you take yourself off for a soak in the bath. (Refrain from having a bath until three days after giving birth if you’ve had stitches but after that, bath or shower every day and gently pat the area dry with a towel.)

6. Remember to breathe when stress is high!

So simple, but so powerful – it engages your parasympathetic system, which is your body’s soothing response, and can keep your stress in check and calm you down, just that little bit, at times of high stress.

7. If you’re even slightly worried about your mental health, speak to your GP

It is worth speaking to your GP or health visitor even if you are unsure as they will be able to assess you and help answer any questions you have. If you are feeling bad or distressed, it is always worth speaking to someone to help understand what is going on and work out the best way forward for you.

8. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with you if you need help

The stigma around mental health, and what this means about you as a mother, still runs through society’s veins. People can be afraid to speak up as they think it means they’re not a good mother. Some even fear that their children might be taken away from them. Motherhood can be portrayed as this magical and wonderful time, which can make you feel like there is something wrong with you if you are finding it difficult.

A new mum checking on her twin babies who are asleep in their cot in her bedroom. She holds the hand of one twin.
Image: Getty

Places to go for online support

·  Mumsnet

The forums on Mumsnet are packed with mums chatting about everything from pregnancy, sleep deprivation, and weaning to celebrities, neighbour feuds and school issues. Even old threads can be a mine of helpful information – I often google something like: ‘Mumsnet swaddling tips,’ to get old threads of people discussing something.

This is one of the biggest Facebook parenting communities, and it’s one of the most supportive and non-judgemental you’ll find.

·  Your local twins group’s Facebook page

Search Facebook or Google for info on the group if you’re not already aware of your local twin group. Most of them have a Facebook group for members to chat in the middle of the night and seek support when they need it.

Email asktwinline@twinstrust.org or call 0800 138 0509 Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm and from 7pm to 10pm.

Staffed by trained volunteers who are all parents of twins, Twinline offers support and advice on any aspect of being a twin parent.

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