Twins: 17 tips for staying sane under twin stress

"Sometimes I feel like screaming!"

"Some days I feel like throwing my babies away."

Comments like these are distress signals from frantic mothers of twins. While they may not always feel this way, these mothers have something in common: they are suffering from stress.

Although the heavy demands of caring for multiples makes parents especially susceptible to stress, there are measures that can help to reduce the strains of double duty. Following are some suggestions that may help you recognize and cope with the physical, emotional, environmental and financial pressures of raising multiples.

First, just what is stress? The physical, mental and emotional strain or tension that we call stress is the body and mind's way of telling us that we're overloading our coping mechanisms. The mothers quoted above all feel overwhelmed. They may have enough energy and nurturing love to give to one baby, but splitting it among two, three, four or more is more than they can cope with, and they react with a fairly typical "fight or flight" response-they get angry, or they want to escape from the source of stress, their babies.

They love their babies, but at the times they hate them, too, and these conflicting emotions contribute further to the stress they're feeling. For instance, the mother who unintentionally hits her child too hard because of her anger and frustration then feels intense guilt. And the mother who "feels like throwing her babies away" may really be longing for release from the overwhelming demands of caring for the babies and feeling resentful that her efforts are unappreciated. So, in addition to being physically exhausted, these women may be emotionally drained from feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, depression or self-pity.

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