As a new doula, I learned all about how to care for mothers and help parents heal after delivery. Not much energy was put into supporting families with multiples in that initial training, and even the several others that I took after, however, it has been a huge section of my work as a postpartum doula! I decided to specialize pretty quickly after I bundled two tiny infants into a sling together and saw their beautiful tiny faces looking up at me. My heart about burst!
As someone who adores helping babies calm and soothe, and getting them to sleep—and snuggling too!—it was a natural shift into supporting families with twins as a doula because you get to do so much baby care. This was something I could truly shine in! Caring for the parents became something I learned more about with each client, and I became more and more knowledgeable about as I encountered new challenges and situations. But caring for babies was something I brought to this work, and focusing on multiples meant I not only got to be with these adorable tiny humans, but I got to do it while parents slept and recharged their parenting batteries, which made me feel so useful and valued. What a gift for both of us!
I learned from each set of twins I served; what routines work best, how to feed them together (or not if their situation was better for individual feedings), what to do when both are crying, and how to pick them both up at one time. I learned how to anticipate the needs of the babies so you can ease into the next phase with less crying, more comfort, and a smoother experience. When you work with hundreds of families of multiples, you learn a lot of different ways of doing things. There are so many ways that work!
I also learned the specific needs that parents of multiples have; the guilt no matter what they are doing, the constant feeling of being torn, the “not enough” ness of whatever they are offering. How much help they need, and what kind of help, at what time, and how to provide it gently. It isn’t like just caring for 2 babies like you would care for one. There is a family dynamic that is different, and parents see you differently, more like a magical being of kindness and support who possesses extra arms for babies and extra patience for solving their problems (not just a skilled breastfeeding supporter, a gentle listener, or a healing food preparer that people saw me as when they only had one baby to help care for).
Preemies are also different little creates even than full term babies, and that adds an element of education needed for parents, reassurance about their capacity and what is normal for these teeny ones, and more specialized skills in feeding when they lack coordination of their facial and jaw muscles. Parents of preemies struggle less with sleep and more with keeping them awake enough to feed, and then dealing with the incessant hamster wheel of the feeding routine.
All of this caused me to want to help equip doulas to support these precious families with a bigger bag of tricks, tips, and skills. I wanted them to walk in knowing that the doula support they offer comes with the confidence to really make a difference in the lives of new parents with multiples. Not just to be an extra pair of hands, but to really master the time they invest with families, to nurture every member and to leave the home with peace, even if it had been in chaos moments before they arrived.
This is why I teach the Working with Multiples course. So doulas, NCS, nannies and other caregivers of families with twins can work on the components of their care that they lack confidence in. So they can leave being ready to welcome that next twin family and know they are going to be such a wealth to offer their clients that they just might end of specializing in multiples too!