Dear Beyonce and Amal: Here's what you need to know about having twins

What these moms of multiples wish they knew beforehand
(Getty Images)

First Beyonce, now Amal.

With twin fever sweeping Hollywood, it seems having multiples has  never been more en vogue. So what are your chances of popping out a twosome in tandem with celebrities?

In Canada, twin births are on the rise, but still rare. In 2008, multiple-birth babies represented 3.2 per cent of all births, up from 2.2 per cent in 1995, according to Statistics Canada. Twins represent most these births, with 6,000 sets of twins born each year.

The rising numbers of twins in Canada could be attributed to increased use of fertility treatments or to moms having kids later in life, both of which can increase the chances of having multiples, said Heather McAuley, chair of the board of directors for Multiple Births Canada, a registered charity. 

But regardless of our desire to emulate or gawk at celebrity pregnancy announcements, mere mortal non-celebrity moms of twins know raising twins can be tough, even if you have an army of nannies and personal assistants on hand.

We asked three Canadian moms what they wish they knew before having twins.

Sunit Suchdev, Vancouver-area mom to 4-year-old twin boys, a coach for new and expecting moms and a blogger:

1. Make yourself a priority. You can't take care of them if you aren't whole yourself. Meditate, exercise, eat healthy, have a bath. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Give your family the gift of a happy mom.

2. When you go on a road trip, you will not be able to see out of the rear-view mirror because your trunk will be packed to the roof with baby equipment and necessities. You and your husband will share one small handbag that will sit at your feet.

3. That your twins' bond is stronger than anything you could have ever imagined. As they grow they will act like an old married couple.

4. For at least the first five years of life, you will get a lot of attention from other people. At least one stranger will ask if they "were natural." If they're fraternal, at least one person will ask you if you're sure.

5. Twin skin is a real thing. This is when your stomach is stretched more than you ever thought humanly possible, and after you have your babies, the elasticity never comes back. Normal people worry about stretch marks but moms of multiples worry about twin skin!

Heather McAuley, Windsor-based mom to four children, including 14-year-old twins, and chair of the board of directors for Multiple Births Canada:

1. You don't need two of everything. For instance, you likely only need one bath seat because you can usually only bathe one baby at a time. You DO need two car seats.

2. When choosing a stroller, think about where you'll be using it. Do you shop at a grocery store with narrow aisles? Then you'll need a front-to-back double stroller instead of a side-by-side one.

3. Take everybody's advice and put it through a strainer. Keep the good stuff for your family and just thank everybody for the rest and toss it in the trash.

4. Breast feeding is absolutely possible, but it's is also more work. Turn to the La Leche League or doulas for support. People think you can't breast feed when you have twins because you won't produce enough milk, but breast feeding is supply and demand. Don't give up.

Ruth Morton, Guelph-area mom to 8-year-old twin boys who works for a technology solutions and services company

1.          People will tell you how hard it is at the beginning but you won't really understand until you experience it. My husband John and I thought we had it all figured out – we'd been to prenatal classes, we'd connected with the local Le Leche League and we'd lined up my sister and in-laws to be with us for the first week. It took only two days and one night on our own after everyone left for us to realize we were in over our heads. After a desperate email, they helped for another six weeks.

2. It may take a while before you can enjoy the experience and that's okay. It really wasn't until around the four-month mark that my husband and I could actually say we started to enjoy being parents. Before that it was just hard, relentless work with the odd special moment or two sprinkled in.

3. A doula can be invaluable. Our doula assisted with those first feeding sessions at my hospital bed and then continued to visit and work with us when we got home. She helped with everything from swaddling to sleep schedules to breastfeeding.

4. Get used to asking for help. From the neighbours and acquaintances who stop by with food, to the friends who volunteer to help out overnight, to the strangers who help carry your babies in from the parking lot when you forget to bring the stroller – you will be amazed and humbled by the friends, family and strangers that step in when you need help.

Katrina Clarke is a Toronto-based journalist who writes about relationships, health, technology and social trends. You can find her on Twitter at @KatrinaAClarke.