My twin birth experience at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore

Twin births are fragile and require special attention. Luckily, I received the right care at Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore.

My pregnancy

I was extremely fortunate to have a smooth pregnancy. I had 2-3 days of mild morning sickness during my first trimester, traveled to the US during my 17th week, and experienced the predictable backaches and mild heartburn during my final few months. At 37 weeks–full term for twins, I delivered my babies via elective C section.

Before the birth

My obstetrician / gynecologist (‘gynae’ in Singapore) has a private practice, and at the time, delivered at three hospitals in Singapore: Gleneagles, Mount Alvernia, and Thomson Medical Centre.

My husband and I went on tours of all three hospitals (tip: tour your prospective hospitals around month 4-5 of your pregnancy). The care at Mount Alvernia was supposed to be excellent, but we found the environment to be quite dreary. Thomson also has a good reputation, but the hospital was often crowded and a bit chaotic. We found Gleneagles to be the most mellow hospital of the three, and the staff were very friendly during our visit.

A few weeks before my expected due date (EDD, as they call it here), we pre-registered at Gleneagles. We brought a letter from my doctor and paid a sizeable deposit for our elective C section package (tip: ask for package price sheets for twins during your hospital tour; they vary greatly among hospitals).

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7 lessons I learned from my first year with twins

1. Take one day at a time. Even during the worst days, your twins will do something amazing or adorable to remind you why you love them so much.

2. Get as much help as you can. Don’t try to be super mom. Your sanity is more important than your ego!

3. Facebook groups, Google, friends, and family can be helpful when you need advice, but in the end, use your mommy instincts when making decisions about your baby.

4. Create an email account for your kids and email them with updates on major milestones, funny stories, etc. This digital diary of their upbringing will be a great keepsake when they’re older.

5. Get a phone with the maximum amount of storage because you’ll need it! Also, Google Photos is awesome for storing (and sharing) the thousands of photos you’ll accumulate in the years to come.

6. Sleep train your baby as soon as you feel ready. I sleep trained my little monsters at 4 months, and with a few hiccups here and there, it has been wonderful ever since.

7. Breast milk is great, and so is formula. If you can’t breast feed or want to stop, your baby will be fine. After two episodes of mastitis and countless night wakings to pump for two, I quit making milk for my twins at 10 months, and I don’t regret it at all. A well rested mom is a happy mom.

Obtaining our twins’ birth certificates, US passports, and Singapore visit passes

My husband and I were quite lost when we began this process. Birth registration was simple, but obtaining our twins’ US passports and Singapore visit passes was rather tedious. This post will outline each step in detail.

Steps involved

1. Register for birth certificates (same day collection)

2. Take your child’s passport photos (different dimensions for US and SG photos)

3. Apply for passport at local embassy (for US citizens, you will apply for passports and social security cards together)*

4. Collect passport

5. Actualise your child’s “stay” at ICA (stamp passport) and apply for visit pass*

6. Collect visit pass*

* Must bring child for these visits

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Going out with twins in Singapore, from birth to year 1

Despite the mountainous struggles you’ll face the first 3-4 months, this period is the best time to go out with twins out and even travel on long haul flights. Most young infants will sleep through loud noise and movement.

Our stroller setup (Chicco Keyfit 30 car seats + Baby Jogger City Select stroller) made it easy to tandem bottle feed our twins when they were hungry.

Local outings

We frequented shopping malls with wide spaces such as:

  • City Square Mall (arrive before 11am on weekends, as it usually gets crowded mid-day)
  • Square 2 / Velocity (also best to arrive before peak hours)
  • Ngee Ann City
  • Paragon
  • Zhongshan Mall (which has an amazing FairPrice Finest!)
  • Suntec City (enormous space but the lifts are spread out, so you’ll get lots of exercise)

We ate at these baby friendly restaurants quite often:

  • Paradise Inn
  • Jamie’s Italian
  • Food for Thought
  • Omakase Burger
  • Kith Café (the Robertson Quay branch opens at 7am)

Indoor playgrounds are extremely popular in Singapore, and most offer free admission before age 1. We started taking our twins to play parks around 8 months. Our favorites:

  • Pororo Park at Marina Square (admission is quite expensive for kids age >1)
  • Cool De Sac at Suntec City
  • Fidgets World at The Grandstand (weekends and public holidays are often crowded, so the toddler play area can become too rough for small children)

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Sleep training twins

During our first two months with twins, we had a wonderful confinement nanny who single handedly managed night feedings. Night times were peaceful, as my husband had uninterrupted sleep and I woke up twice to pump milk (no, I didn’t breast feed my twins at night—bad mommy).

Unfortunately, our next two months were a nightmare. Each baby woke up 3-6 times at night, crying or wanting to drink milk. Even worse, our babies woke up at different times, at varying intervals, so their patterns weren’t consistent. We maintained our baby log at night, but any attempt to decipher a sleep-wake pattern was impossible.

Hire a sleep trainer

After 4 months, my husband was non-functional at work, and I had just returned to work part time. In desperate need of sleep, we decided to sleep train our twins. I read tons of books and blogs but couldn’t decide on a plan. I did some more Googling and found a local sleep trainer, Zoe Chu.

Zoe was very responsive to email and came to our house for a consultation. She presented some background on sleep training along with her personal experience (she has twins of her own) and provided us with two plans we could try. We opted for the controlled cry-it-out method. My husband and I wrote down a few goals for the first week, and shared them with our helper.

Set actionable goals

Our first few goals were:

  • Implement the EASY schedule. EASY = eat, activity (playtime, outing), sleep, you (so you can nap, watch Netflix, catch up on Facebook). The number of EASY cycles per day depends on your children’s age. At 18 weeks, our twins were supposed to take 3 naps a day, but their schedules were all over the place. We were only putting them down for naps when they appeared sleepy, but this made them overtired and cranky.
  • Remove the eat-sleep association. We used to feed our twins before putting them to sleep. Zoe recommended that we remove any sleep associations so that they could sleep on their own. To teach our twins to self soothe, we gave them little loveys to cuddle.
  • Wean night feedings (please check with your pediatrician before proceeding with this). Our twins were about 18 weeks old and >5 kg. When they cried for milk at night, we gave them small amounts of water instead, gradually reducing their intake per feeding.

Within a week, our twins had gotten into the groove of the EASY schedule and were finally able to sleep through the night!

Tips
  • Start with a few goals and communicate them clearly to all caretakers to ensure consistency.
  • Expect some crying and anxiety–be strong! We had to deal with 5-10 minute crying intervals but this stopped after a few days.
  • Remember that sleep training helps both parents and children. Our little boy was fussy and temperamental before sleep training, but after he settled into the EASY schedule, he was much happier. Many books and blogs reiterate that children love routine, and we found this to be absolutely true for our kids.

Where to buy twin baby products in Singapore

Before I gave birth, my husband and I prepared the basics at home. During the first few months with our twins, we quickly discovered that we needed all sorts of baby and nursing related items. Between juggling two babies and recovering from childbirth, I couldn’t go out often, so I spent a lot of time Googling what / where to buy what I needed. I often had to purchase from 5-6 different places, while in the US, I was used to buying everything in one store.

Here are some of my most frequently visited stores and websites for buying baby items in Singapore.

Online stores

Lazada – Online marketplace which I use to purchase Japanese GOO.N diapers. Use the app and purchase on Fridays, when you can use a code to get 10-12% off your order.

Pupsik – Pupsik is great during your first few months with twins. They carry a wide selection of items, most of which you can’t find at the brick and mortar stores here. I’ve bought discounted Mustela and California Baby goods, breast pump parts, Bravado nursing bras, my Beaba Babycook, and Parklon play mats for the twins.

Kulily – Similar to Pupsik but with some different inventory. We bought our Baby Jogger City Select stroller from Kulily.

Amazon – Free shipping on select items over $125 USD. Most baby items in Singapore are extremely overpriced, so I have purchased about half of the twins’ stuff from Amazon. My orders usually arrive within 1-2 weeks. I’ve bought board books, toys, Avent bottles, Lanisoh items (disposable breast pads, lanolin cream, breastmilk storage bags), baby feeding items (bibs, cutlery, bowls, food storage containers, sippy cups), sleep sacks, swaddle blankets…and the list goes on and on!

Redmart – Great for groceries and also for diapers, wipes, formula–all the heavy stuff you don’t want to lug around when you’re at the grocery store.

Carousell – Easy-to-use app for buying and selling new / preloved items. There’s a huge market for baby items on Carousell. I’ve purchased preloved clothes for my twins, new Avent baby bottles (at a very reasonable price–similar to what I paid on Amazon without the minimum purchase requirement), new breast pump accessories (those pesky little Medela membranes). I’ve been able to sell most of my twins’ old clothes as well.

Brick & mortar shops

FairPrice Finest – For most items, FairPrice is sufficient for diapers, formula, wipes, etc. But FairPrice Finest usually has a larger selection, especially for Pigeon items (they make great teething toys, straw cups, toothbrushes, and we use their disposable wipes for eating out). They also carry a decent selection of baby snacks for those 6 months old and above.

Guardian – Great for first aid items, especially sterile nasal solution for flushing out snotty noses, syringes for giving medicine, hand sanitizer to keep at the diaper changing table, and other health related sundries. Unity is a useful pharmacy chain as well.

1010 Mother & Child Essentials – Located at City Square Mall, Seletar Mall, and Waterway Point. Great little store that carries a wide selection of baby bathing and skin essentials, feeding accessories (e.g., bottle nipples and cutlery), baby snacks, toys, etc.

Clearly, online stores are a great help to frazzled moms in Singapore! Do you have any others to recommend?

The first month: caring for your twins

My husband and I took antenatal classes through Thomson Medical Centre. As first time parents, it was comforting to be around other anxious, soon-to-be parents and learn the basics of newborn care. Once our twins arrived, though, our classroom knowledge was forgotten and we mainly relied on our confinement nanny for guidance.

During the first month, our primary duties consisted of feeding, burping, changing diapers, bathing, and soothing. As a breastfeeding mother recovering from a C section, I also had to prioritise milk production and healing.

Establish a routine

Many twin resources recommend synchronising your twins’ schedules as soon as possible. For us, this was only feasible around 4 months, when we sleep trained our babies. The first few months were a blur, as we were learning the basics of infant care and ensuring that our twins were growing properly.

From the beginning, our boy-girl twins had very different needs and habits. We maintained a baby log to track naps, wet / poopy diapers, feeding times, and feeding volumes. You will likely have 2-3 people caring for your babies, so I strongly recommend having all caretakers log these events in order to ensure that your babies are pooping, peeing, and eating regularly. Bring these logs to your pediatrician appointments so you can give your doctor an accurate account of your twins’ activities.

We also bathed our twins daily, as the Singapore climate is unforgiving. We bought a basic plastic bath tub from our neighbourhood provision shop, and our nanny taught us how to safely bathe our babies. Your hospital will likely give you lots of baby wash samples, so try out different brands, as your children may have sensitive skin. iHerb is great for baby friendly products; 1010 Mother & Child, located in several shopping malls, carries a wide variety of baby care products as well.

Understand your babies’ needs

Most of our time during the first few months was spent on deciphering our twins’ needs by understanding their various cries. Our nanny was very experienced in infant care and showed us whether our babies were hungry, gassy, or simply wanted to be soothed. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have an experienced nanny or family member during the first month with twins. YouTube and Google are great resources, too, but with twins, hands on learning is ideal.

During the first 4 to 5 months, your babies’ digestive systems are still developing and are extremely sensitive. They will likely have some gas, so baby massage videos are very useful. We used ruyi oil (available at Guardian and FairPrice), a local remedy, during baby massage. Its main ingredient is peppermint oil, which can provide some digestive comfort.

It took us about 4 to 6 weeks to understand our babies’ cries and cues. The first month with twins will be extremely hectic, but to summarise, it is most essential to:

  • Recover from childbirth. If you had a C section, take extra precautions when moving around.
  • Maximise milk production if you are breastfeeding. If you are formula feeding, choose the best formula for your babies. Some babies are sensitive to lactose, so ask you paediatrician for recommendations if you notice any intolerance.
  • Learn how to comfort your babies and understand their various cries. With twins, you have to learn each baby’s cues; they will be different for each baby!

The first month: breastfeeding twins

I had a planned Caesarean section, and luckily, my recovery went smoothly. Breastfeeding twins, on the other hand, was a pain in the arse. Here are some pointers I wish I had known before giving birth.

At the hospital

I gave birth at Gleneagles Hospital, where the nurses weren’t pushy about breastfeeding, but they weren’t particularly helpful, either. There was also a lactation consultant who visited me daily, 5-10 minutes at a time. Not surprisingly, I didn’t leave the hospital feeling too confident about breastfeeding my twins.

Tip 1: Research breastfeeding before giving birth. My childbirth course barely touched on breastfeeding. Watch YouTube videos on latching and practice the motions. Read Kelly Mom and other reliable blogs.

From the first night, the nurses would wheel in my twins (who were sleeping in the hospital nursery) one by one so they could latch and stimulate milk flow. It was amazing to see them suck immediately at the breast, but boy, did it hurt! My nipples were extremely sore, neither of us knew how to latch, and the whole experience was unpleasant. By the third day, I had developed a cracked nipple.

Tip 2: Your milk will probably take a few days to come in. Don’t stress if you can’t lactate right away. Stress will suppress milk production. If latching is painful, try nursing over longer intervals so you don’t develop an aversion to nursing. Pack lanolin cream (I recommend Lanisoh since it is 100% lanolin) in your hospital bag to soothe sore nipples and to prevent them from becoming cracked. If nursing is too painful, try pumping instead.

The hospital offered me an electric pump so I could stimulate milk flow in between nursing sessions. My colostrum (concentrated milk full of antibodies and other nutrients) came in on the fourth day. I was thrilled but felt very uneasy about how to manage at home.

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Preparing for your twins in Singapore

This post was updated on 11 July 2017 with Amazon affiliate links.

In my debut post of this blog, I will summarise how to prepare the basic essentials for twins in Singapore. The subsequent posts will share how to manage your first year with twins.

Most twins are born premature, with 37 weeks considered full term. Therefore it is essential to have your baby gear and support system ready by 30-32 weeks. The earlier, the better.

Help

At least three months before your due date, hire a live-in helper with infant care experience. During your third trimester, it will be very difficult to get any housework done. You will need about a week to train your helper, one to two weeks to assess her skills, and some time to find a replacement if needed.

Book a confinement nanny four to five months before your due date. Ask for a nanny who is experienced in caring for twins. I hired mine through an agency (Supernanny Services, one of two official agencies in Singapore), and she was fantastic. She was an excellent cook, cared for my little ones with lots of love, fed them at night, and was easy to get along with. I kept her for two months, and we still stay in touch.

Changing essentials

You will probably change thousands of diapers during your first year. Make sure that your changing station is well equipped with quality items.

Ubbi diaper pail. Expensive but great at keeping the smell out, and you can use any trash bags (we used liners from Daiso).

IKEA Stuva changing table. There is a limited variety of changing tables available in Singapore; most locals change their babies on the bed or floor. With twins, however, a functional table is essential. The IKEA Stuva coverts into a desk .

Serta changing pad and Summer Infant changing pad covers. I shopped all over Singapore for a changing pad and couldn’t find a thick, sturdy one. The Stuva changing table can fit 2 Serta pads, but don’t be naive like me and think that you’ll be changing both babies at once! Use disposable underpads for easy cleaning. Your babies are going to poop and pee like mad the first two months.

We tested several diaper brands and liked GOO.N (buy them in bulk on Lazada on Fridays for an extra discount) for daytime and Merries (often on sale at Giant or NTUC FairPrice) at night.

Tip: Don’t stock up on newborn sized diapers. Your twins will grow out of them very quickly.

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