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The Best Mattresses for Spinal Support During Pregnancy

PREGNANCY PILLOW

Having kids can be a long and tiresome process even under the most streamlined of circumstances. When twins are inbound however—all the normal problems tend to be amplified. Sleep disturbances are more than common among regular pregnancies, and aren’t necessarily that much worse during twins. The mattress you sleep on can contribute greatly to how well you are, or aren’t, sleeping during your pregnancy. We’ve rounded up some of the best mattresses for pregnancies and broken down why they’re the best mattresses out there. These aren’t necessarily qualified mattress reviews since we don’t exactly have a testing lab, but we have some good ideas. Before you can look for a mattress though, you need to understand what you’re looking for!

What to Look for in a Mattress

Mattresses offer great support throughout the night though not every one is created equally. The best mattresses on the market are usually far beyond the reach of any sane budgets but some of the newer models offer some decent pricing. Before you start looking at prices however it’s important to consider the features that will be best suited to your needs. Memory foam mattresses offer great support to avoid painful cramps and pressure points but can get a bit too hot in the middle of the night. Traditional spring mattresses offer great support but lack the plush comfort that many prefer. Newer hybrid mattresses try to offer a blend of both these; they have springs and memory foam. Some of the newer mattress brands like Casper, Tomorrow Sleep, Nectar, Helix, and even Saatva all have designed mattresses to surpass what we’ve grown accustomed to. Many of these mattress brands offer breathable designs that are comfortable as well. Fortunately, they all sell directly to consumers as well so the prices are suuuuper cheap compared to those in stores.

Sleeping Styles

Side, belly, back, somewhere in between—these are common sleep positions that we find ourselves in each night. The way you sleep can greatly impact the type of mattress you should get. Back sleepers need better support to avoid improper spinal alignment. This is best remedied by shopping for a firm mattress. Side sleepers need protection for knees and elbows which can be addressed by softer memory foams. For those that sleep both ways, you’ll probably want something somewhere in the middle that offers a firm memory foam. There are cases in which mattresses will do little for you, such as peeing every 30 minutes. Fortunately, if you are able to get a slightly deeper sleep your body will naturally go a little longer before requiring you to get up out of bed and relieve yourself!

Life After Pregnancy

I know—it’s almost impossible to imagine at this point in time! However, once you give birth and start returning to your normal hormonal balance (it happens) you may realize that mattress you bought in a desperate move to get better sleep during your pregnancy isn’t really so great anymore. This happens more times that you’d believe but can be avoided by using one simple trick. If you’re considering a mattress for pregnancy, consider first what type of mattress you’d prefer if you weren’t pregnant. Chances are, you will likely want a softer mattress now than you normally do. In these situations it is recommended to start small and work your way up. The first, less expensive step, is to buy a mattress topper. These are 2 to 3 inch thick products that resemble giant pillows that cover the top of your existing mattress. This is a good way to add a bit of extra fluff on top, without having to get an entirely new mattress! The best mattress for you isn’t going to be the one that is best for everyone else. You, your sleeping habits, and your pregnancy is unique!

Final Considerations

Twins can be a godsend and teach us many lessons. During pregnancy however, they can really make some things difficult—like sleeping! Taking natural sleep aids or prescription medication is often not advisable during pregnancies and therefore leaves us to consider less biological approaches. Pregnancy pillows and mattress toppers can be great ways to take the edge off but sometimes the best solution is a new mattress entirely. The newer mattress brands on the market offer surprisingly affordable options that can even be customized to accommodate each side. Knowing your own sleeping habits can help you pick out the best mattress for you without the hassle of having to return a misleading product. Pregnancies can be difficult but a nice, soft, welcoming new mattress can help ease the burden!

10 Must-Haves for Twins

By Erinn Stam

Preparing for twins means more than just buying two of everything. As with singletons, there are many items of baby gear that are promoted as “essential” but that parents find they never use after a week or so. When you have twins, you have to be more selective about what gear you purchase (especially when your bill is doubled every time you buy something new) to help ease the increased demands of parenting. Even simple actions like changing a diaper are made more complicated when you are caring for more than one baby. Here are some products that can help make the process a little easier:

Two Cribs

Many parents don’t even use a crib when their babies are newborns, preferring instead to use a bassinet or a co-sleeper. Parents of multiples often put their babies in the same crib when they are small. However, you will eventually need two cribs. Why not just start with them now? Choose convertible cribs that can be turned into toddler beds later so you don’t have to replace them when your babies grow.

Pack n Play

When you visit friends and family, a pack n play, or portable crib or play yard, can be quite convenient. Your babies have a place to play and nap, and you can be sure that they aren’t crawling around in non-baby-proofed territory. You can also use it at home for naps or play time in areas of your home besides the bedroom.

Double Stroller

When you’re on the go, a double stroller can help you easily transport both babies. No need to try to manage two strollers, or to navigate with one baby in a stroller and the other in a sling or carrier. Take the strain off your back and rest both babies comfortably in the stroller, then stow away your diaper bag and other baby essentials in the bins.

Car Seats

Of course, you will need a car seat for every baby that you have. With twins, opt for a car seat that doubles as a carrier. You will save yourself a lot of time when you have to move your babies in and out of the car — especially useful when you are running errands. No need to fuss with the straps until you are finished and back home for nap time (and maybe not even then).

Twin Baby Carrier

When you need more portability than a stroller will allow, and you don’t have the arm strength to carry around your twins in those car seat carriers anymore, opt for a sling or baby carrier designed especially for twins. These carriers allow you to carry your babies on your back or your chest, and some carriers are designed especially to hold twins. (No need to carry one in the front and one in the back!)

Twin Nursing Pillow

Make breastfeeding easier by feeding both at the same time, and give your arms a break with a twin nursing pillow. These pillows allow you to prop up and support both babies while you breastfeed so that you can relax and enjoy the bonding experience.

Backpack Diaper Bag

With twins, you’ll need to carry more diapers and supplies such as wipes, bottles, and creams. A bigger diaper bag can accommodate all this, but it may become bulky and cumbersome to carry. Opt for a backpack diaper bag instead to free up your hands and ease some of the strain on your shoulders.

Portable Changing Pad

Baby changing stations are helpful if you have only one baby to change at a time. However, with twins, you will find yourself changing many more diapers per day and in a variety of locations. Opt for a portable changing pad or mat instead so that you are ready wherever you are.

Diaper Pail

With all the diapers you’ll be changing, you’ll need a good diaper pail to block the odors. Choose a model with strong odor protection. If you find yourself overfilling the pail, buy two.

Bouncers

It can be a lot of work to occupy and entertain two babies at the same time. Bouncers and other activity seats can help you by giving your baby a safe place to sit that includes fun toys and stimulation.

When your twins were young babies, what gear did you find essential to helping ease the first few months? What gear did you find was totally useless? Tell us in the comments!

Bio:

Erinn Stam is the Managing Editor for online nursing schools. She attends Wake Technical Community College and is learning about nursing schools in KS. She lives in Durham, NC with her lovely 4-year-old daughter and exuberant husband.

Best Construction/Building Toys for Twin Boys

Boys love playing with dump trucks. It really isn’t certain why boys prefer to play with “useful” toys that serve a purpose — such as a faux construction tool set, dirt-picking bulldozer, or functional mini crane — but they do. Some experts cite biological disposition. Whatever the case, boys love toys that put their hands to good use, and below are some of the best ones in the industry to add to your twins’ collection.

My Little Sandbox Builder

My Little Sandbox Big Builder is essentially the “ultimate” junior construction site kit for toddlers. This 20″ x 20″ ultrafine wooden sandbox is equipped with everything your twin boys need to feel like real construction management professionals: a bag of gravel, a shovel, life-like mini boulders, building blocks, safety cones, a full crew and of course two construction trucks (one for each kid). Recommended for ages 4 to 7.

K’Nex Collect and Build Construction Crew Dump-Truck Set

This is the perfect toy for boys who love actually constructing objects and seeing their hard work come to life, not to mention it’s the perfect toy to teach your twins about team work. Ideally, your twin boys must build their own toy. The set is equipped with 200 toy building bricks that when placed together create a fully functional dump truck — there is a motorized, battery-operated motor that allows it to drive and move the back bucket. There should also be enough building blocks to construct a portion of a house. Recommended for ages 5 to 7.

Little People Eddie and His Boulder Worksite

This toy set, from Fisher Price, was once included on Parent magazine’s “Toys Worth your Money” list and that’s because it truly is. The toy is exceptionally engaging and hands-on for your small children — ages 24 months to 5 years. It’s essentially a construction site with a “dynamite blasting area,” gas pumping station, and a working crane that moves boulders. It’s a great toy for imaginative play. And since it comes with two moveable construction workers, it’s a great toy for two.

Construction Worker Costume

Last but not least is the construction worker outfit from Melissa & Doug. Since it’s composed of clothing, it too is an ideal “toy” for imaginative play. Included in the set is a washable work vest equipped with reflective material, a hard had, tool belt and even tools such as goggles, a plastic hammer, plastic saw, measuring tape, and a name tag. Only outfit per set, so you’d need to purchase two. Recommended for ages 3 to 6.

Granted these aren’t the only construction/building related toys on the market, but they do have splendid reviews from parents and children alike. They’d make the perfect gift and are sure to entertain your twins for hours.

About the author:

After obtaining her construction management degree, Kristie Lewis decided she wanted to help others better understand the process and industry by writing about it. Feel free to contact her with your questions, comments or concerns at Kristie.lewis81@gmail.com.

Are You a Teenage Twin? We Need Your Help!

Being a teenager AND a twin can be a huge challenge! Not only are you trying to establish your own identity, but it’s complicated by the fact that people see you as a matched set (even if you look nothing like your twin). Bestselling author and mother of twins, Susan M. Heim, is putting together a book just for teenage twins! She’s looking for…

stories

poems

advice

tips

questions

fun stuff

and more

…about what it’s like to be a twin teenager. Do you and your twin switch places? Have you grown closer together — or farther apart — in your teen years? What do you love — or hate — about being a twin? Does being a twin complicate friendships? How does being a twin affect your relationship with your parents? Do you have any advice for other twin teenagers? Do you have funny stories about you and your twin? What do you wish that people knew about being a twin?

If you’re a teenager AND a twin, or have safely navigated the teen years and want to share your experiences with other twin teens, Susan wants to hear from you! Please email her at susan [at] twinstalk [dot] com with your questions or contributions and contact information. Thank you!

Is It Possible for Twins to Have Different Fathers?

The answer is yes! According to Britain’s Daily Mail, that’s just what happened to Mia Washington when she was unfaithful. Her eleven-month-old twin boys, Justin and Jordan, are half-brothers. Experts say there is only a one-in-a-million chance of this occurring.

When Mia was ovulating, she cheated on her partner, James Harrison, with another man. After the twins’ birth, Mia noticed that the twins had different facial features, and she decided to investigate. Subsequent DNA tests show that there is only a 0.001 chance that the twins have the same father. Mia broke the news to James, who has forgiven her for her infidelity and is raising both twins with her as his own. Mia is now pregnant with another child (and says there’s no doubt of this child’s paternity!).

Mia says she will reveal the truth to her twins one day when they’re old enough to comprehend it. She has taken responsibility for her actions and says she’s committed to rebuilding trust between her and James, and raising their family together.

Adjusting to Your Changing Lifestyle as New Parents and Parents of Multiples

By Lisa Cartolano

It is simply amazing! From the moment you lay eyes on your newborn bundle(s) of joy, your life suddenly changes. How could someone so tiny and helpless make such an incredible impact so quickly? Babies have the unique ability to steal your heart, challenge your abilities, and can turn your world upside down if you let them. Having a baby (or two or three) is an absolutely wonderful change that will necessitate some changes in your way of doing things. As many seasoned parents have probably already informed you, your lifestyle will need quite a few modifications. Here are some suggestions that will make your adjustment a little bit easier.

Get Organized!

As painful as this thought may be for the more spontaneous among us, getting and staying organized can make the difference between riding a tidal wave and getting hit by one. Not only will you be able to better meet the needs of your children, but you may even have some time left over for yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it!

Buy in Bulk

Take an inventory of non-perishable products that you are most likely to use. Whether it be diapers or everyday household items and foods, stock up when there is a sale. Eliminate those last minute dashes to the store to purchase necessities or forgotten items by keeping close track of your stock. Faithfully keep an ongoing shopping list on your refrigerator door and get into the habit of writing down an item as soon as the need for it arises or it begins to run low. When it comes to baby goods, many items such as diapers and formula can be bought by the case.

Keep It Neat and Easy

How do you keep your home from looking like a disaster at the end of a long day of devoting your efforts to taking care of your baby or babies? Take as many shortcuts as possible. During the day, soak dirty dishes in a tub of warm soapy water in the sink until you can get around to cleaning them. Use clear plastic tubs to store children’s small and medium sized toys. (Labeling these clear tubs with a word or picture will help children learn to locate and put away toys.) Use separate hampers for white, light and dark laundry to avoid sorting. Have designated spots for important items, such as keys, pocketbooks, checkbooks, and pacifiers. (Try your best to return these items to their set location to avoid daily scavenger hunts for them.) Organize your home to help make your job and your life easier.

Learn How to Say Yes

When people offer you assistance, say YES! Parenting, and especially parenting multiples, is a very humbling experience, so learn to swallow your pride and realize the physical and mental limitations of being a SuperMom or SuperDad. Even the most independent people need help sometimes. You will enjoy being a more rested and less stressed parent. Don’t be ashamed to ask family and friends, as well as trusted neighbors, mother’s helpers, school or church volunteers for a hand. Let people take your grocery list to the store with them (after all, when will you be able to get there in the near future?), run errands, feed a baby or two or simply just give you time to take a well deserved nap or read a book. Burning yourself out trying to do it all is simply no good for you or the little ones who depend on you.

Learn How to Say No

Likewise, it is important to know your limitations. If you are unable to entertain guests or attend functions due to exhaustion, tactfully let the party know that you would like to have done so under different circumstances, but you simply cannot do it at this time. For some people, learning how to say no takes time and practice, but it is a necessary skill to avoid burnout. On the other hand, try if possible to get out of the house regularly or on special occasions to refresh yourself and take a short break from the world of diapers and formula. Spending time with friends or family can be uplifting and just the boost you need to get you through the rest of the day or week.

Be Realistic

Especially difficult for the perfectionists and over-achievers among us is learning to set small and realistic goals. Your expectations need to adapt to your new and changing lifestyle. Simply taking care of your babies’ basic feeding, burping, diapering and comforting needs, especially in those early weeks of infancy, is enough of a daily challenge. You are not a poor parent because your house looks like a small tornado has passed through it or because you don’t know why your babies are crying. Focusing on overcoming those daily hurdles will keep you busy enough without having to worry about perfection.

Stay Alert for Special Discounts and Programs

Many baby companies and government agencies have special programs designed for parents of multiples. They can include anything from discount coupons to free supplies for baby. Don’t be shy about asking. Contact your pediatrician, check with local multiples organizations, call toll free baby company hotlines, check multiples magazines and inquire in retail stores for possible discounts.

NOTE: Take Time to Enjoy

All work and no play makes for a very exhausted and stressed out parent. Make it a point to regularly set aside time for yourself to do something you enjoy, whether alone or with others. Think of it as a mini vacation, even if it is for a few minutes a day. Likewise, remember that your babies themselves can be a source of rejuvenation. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the burping, feeding, changing regime that we forget to make time to enjoy playing with our children. There is nothing that can brighten your day like a baby smiling, laughing or cooing at you. Babies grow up before you know it, so why not try to enjoy every moment while you can? It is especially wonderful to leave the camcorder out and ready to shoot so that you can record little snippets here and there of your babies’ latest and cutest feats. Just taking five minutes every so often makes for a beautiful chronicle of babies’ first years. Especially after a long and difficult day, it is rewarding to watch a few precious moments of your little ones at their best.

©2008 Lisa Cartolano. Reprinted with permission.

About Lisa Cartolano

Lisa Cartolano is a certified, tenured Elementary School teacher with a Masters Degree in Teaching. Lisa is a mother of five children, and currently works at home providing online educational resources for parents of infants, multiples, toddlers and school-age children. She is the founder of Little Ones, an educational online resource designed to assist parents facing the challenges of educating young children from infancy through the elementary years and beyond. The Little Ones’ mission is to provide parents with the information and tools necessary to actively support children on their journey to becoming more productive and successful learners. Whether it be through promoting well-selected, educationally sound products, encouraging the development of efficient work and study habits, or simply advising parents of the most effective learning strategies, Little Ones will be a valuable resource for the creation of more stimulating and enjoyable learning experiences for both you and your child. Visit http://www.littleones.com.

Needed: Step-Parents of Twins

Are you a step-parent of twins? Noelle, who is also step-parenting twins, is doing an article for TWINS Magazine and needs to speak with other parents like her. Please contact her at ecupaige@gmail.com. (You can also visit her blog, called Blended Dreams, at http://blenddreams.blogspot.com.)

Lessons in Twinland: Should I Purchase Two of Everything?

It’s the age-old question asked by many parents of multiples: Do I need to put two of everything in my shopping cart?

When it comes to buying toys, clothing and school supplies for twins, parents often believe that if they don’t purchase two of everything, their children may feel less special or lose their sense of individualism. Although this may be true in some cases, it is a belief that is mostly untrue. In fact, asking your children to share (whether they are twins or not) is a life lesson that is far more important than anything money can buy.

To approach the topic more wholly, let’s break the issue down into three major purchasing categories: toys, clothing, and school supplies.

Toys

No matter how you look at it, toys can (and should) be shared. This is especially true if your multiples share the same gender. For twins of different genders, ask them to share non-gender-specific toys, while also purchasing a few (and an equal amount of) gender-specific toys.

The only time when you should buy two of something is when it is an activity that children enjoy doing together (for example, riding a bicycle). To keep your finances in check, use birthdays and other gifting holidays as the time for buying your twins their “own” toy/s.

Clothing

If they are the same gender, you should absolutely consider having them share some parts of their wardrobe. However, as they grow older, this can become an issue (teenagers don’t exactly like re-wearing an outfit that their sibling wore last week). Save as much money as you can, though, while they are young by having them share clothing until they begin to ask for their own wardrobe. Give them their own underwear and socks, though, and differentiate them by writing their initials on the tags or linings.

School Supplies

This is really the only category where you should always buy two of everything. Sometimes it may not even be necessary to purchase two because some supplies are already packaged in multiples (for example, glue sticks usually come in pairs). This is also a great category for establishing individuality because lunchboxes, backpacks and folders often carry unique designs. Let them display their own uniqueness by allowing them to pick out the design that they want. If both happen to like the same design (which they very well may), you can always have these items monogrammed or use a marker to write their names on them.

In the end, making purchases for your twins is really all about common sense and separating what they truly need from what they only want. We all want to feel special and loved, but this does not come from a toy or department store. Give your children what is sufficient enough to keep them healthy and enriched, and the rest will follow.

Katheryn Rivas is a freelance writer for OnlineUniversities.com. She covers topics related to education, parenting, lifestyle and the home. In her spare time, she enjoys reading mystery novels and biking on the weekends with her cycling group. Send any and all comments or questions to her email at KatherynRivas87@gmail.com.

Mixed Race Couple Has Second Set of Unusual Twins

by Susan M. Heim

In 2001, Alison Spooner of Britain gave birth to fraternal twin girls who were strikingly dissimilar. One daughter had fair skin, blue eyes and red hair like her mother, while the other daughter had dark skin and hair like her black father, Dean Durrant. This is an extremely rare phenomenon, but the couple did it twice! Alison recently gave birth to a second set of fraternal twin girls. Miya is dark like her father; Leah is fair like her mother. Scientists say there’s no way to know the probability of this occurring as there are so few known cases.

Twin Communication

by Vikki Stark

Family therapist Vikki Stark interviewed hundreds of women, teens, and girls all over the world for what she termed “The Sisters Project.” Her goal was to explore every aspect of the participants’ relationships with their sisters, both as children and adults. This passage is excerpted from a chapter entitled “Wombmates: Twin Sisters” in her book, My Sister, My Self: Understanding the Sibling Relationship That Shapes Our Lives, Our Loves, and Ourselves.

Twins are well known for having private means of communication. The women in The Sisters Project described that special interchange in two ways.

Idioglossia. A large percentage of participants referred to “that twin language,” the technical name of which is idioglossia. That’s the baby talk between twins that seems to be a kind of internal messaging system that others can’t understand. Jeannie, who had a “theatre boyfriend” while her sister had a “cowboy boyfriend,” was sent with her twin to a speech therapist as a young child because her parents were concerned about their language development: “We had a special language when we were babies. Our mom took us to a specialist because we would talk to each other in ‘jibber-jabber.’ She would try to figure out what one of us needed, but when it wouldn’t work, the other would start talking in the jibber-jabber and come back with a teddy bear.”

Another woman told about not using recognizable language until she and her twin were three and a half. Until then, they just babbled together in a direct call-and-response style from separate cribs. Later, the girls were put in a special education class because the school thought they were slow, though they were eventually moved to a class for talented and gifted kids.

As adults, some twins continue using a modified idioglossia. Thirty-three-year-old Darla wrote, “We don’t even use full sentences when communicating, but rather a series of invented sounds and code words. We try to be subtle about this when we’re in public, but sometimes we forget. At times, we don’t need words at all-facial expressions are enough. This afternoon we were walking in a parking lot, and my sister started to wander off in the opposite direction from the car. I guided her back by a series of tongue clicks.”

Just Knowing. The second manner of communicating goes beyond language or sound. Like Megan and Aviva, some sisters don’t require much in the way of communication; they just know. As one woman wrote, “Our souls are somehow intertwined.” Twenty-five-year-old Chase said, “Since we shared a bedroom for seventeen years, not to mention a womb, I think we have ways of understanding each other that don’t depend on language. I am able to predict fairly accurately how something will make her feel, how she will explain a memory, and the moments of her past that she will choose to explain her present.” That mysterious communication even transcends consciousness: “When we sleep next to each other, we dream of the same elements.”

Twins describe a kind of mental telepathy when they’re together (“You mean, you didn’t just say out loud that I should close the window!?”), but some also say that they know what their twin is going through, even when they’re apart. Marsha, who lived in a different state from her sister, wrote, “I actually had morning sickness for three months when Nathalie was pregnant. I had gone to a doctor and was going to have tests when the symptoms abruptly stopped at her three-month prenatal visit.”

Excerpted from My Sister, My Self: Understanding the Sibling Relationship That Shapes Our Lives, Our Loves, and Ourselves, by Vikki Stark. ©2007. Reprinted with permission from McGraw-Hill Professional. Visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble or www.mhprofessional.com.