Fertility treatment: intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Fertility treatment: intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a form of assisted conception. During IUI, your doctor will place washed, prepared sperm into your uterus (womb) and near to your egg at your time of ovulation. This procedure is often combined with fertility drugs to increase your chances of conceiving.

Could IUI benefit us?

IUI may help you as a couple if:

  • Your spouse has a borderline low sperm count or low motility. This is when the sperm’s ability to move is impaired. But there must be enough healthy, motile sperm to make the treatment worthwhile. If not, IVF or ICSI may be more suitable.
  • You are unable to have sex because of disability, injury, or if your spouse experiences premature ejaculation.
  • You have mild endometriosis.
  • You or your spouse’s fertility problems are unexplained.

For IUI to work, your fallopian tubes must be open and healthy. To find this out, you will need to have a tubal patency test. This can be done using laparoscopy, which is a form of keyhole surgery, or a hysterosalpingogram, which is a form of X-ray. These may locate any problems or blockages in your uterus or fallopian tubes.

IUI isn’t recommended if your tubes have adhesions or scarring that might stop an egg travelling from the ovary to your uterus. But if you have at least one working tube and ovary on the same side, IUI may be an option for you.

How is IUI carried out?

Depending on your particular fertility problem, you may need to use fertility drugs alongside your IUI treatment. If you do take fertility drugs it’s called a stimulated cycle, because the drugs stimulate ovulation. If drugs are not used it’s called an unstimulated cycle, or natural cycle.

Stimulating ovulation is not recommended if only your spouse has a fertility problem, or if the reason for infertility is unexplained. This is because there is a much greater risk of a multiple pregnancy when taking fertility drugs.

You may think that twins or more would be a great way to start a family if you have fertility problems. But multiple pregnancies increase your risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.

In unstimulated cycles, IUI is timed to take place at the time of natural ovulation. You may be asked to detect ovulation using an ovulation predictor kit, or your doctor may track your cycle using blood tests and ultrasound scans. IUI is usually done between day 12 and day 16 of a natural menstrual cycle, but the exact day will depend on your individual cycle.

If your fertility specialist has offered IUI during a stimulated cycle, you’ll probably be given fertility drugs in the form of tablets or injections. You’ll start taking the drug near the beginning of your menstrual cycle to stimulate your ovaries to develop several mature eggs for fertilisation. This is rather than your usual one egg per month.

An ultrasound scan helps to locate the egg and check that it is mature. This will allow insemination to take place at the best time. You may ovulate naturally, or be given an injection of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hcg) to bring it on.

Sperm is then inserted into your uterus within 24 hours and 40 hours of the hcg injection, or when you have a rise (surge) in luteinising hormone (LH). Your husband will be asked to provide a sperm sample which will be washed to extract the best quality and most mobile sperm.

Using a catheter (tube) through your cervix, your doctor will then put this sperm directly into your uterus near a fallopian tube. This is the passage the egg travels along from an ovary to your uterus.

If you have unexplained infertility, the sperm may be inserted within a larger volume of fluid than usual. This allows it to wash up into your fallopian tubes more easily (fallopian sperm perfusion). This technique takes a few minutes more than standard IUI and may increase your chance of success.

After IUI you will rest for a short time and then carry on life as normal. You’ll be able to take a pregnancy test in about two weeks.

How long will treatment last?

The insemination itself is straightforward and takes only a few minutes. If you are having a stimulated cycle, you’ll need to take fertility drugs before you ovulate.

What are the success rates of IUI?

Success rates depend on the cause and severity of the infertility and your age. UK success rates for IUI using donor sperm are about:

  • 16 per cent if you are under 35
  • 11 per cent if you are between 35 and 39
  • five per cent if you are between 40 and 42
  • one per cent if you are between 43 and 44
  • 0nought per cent if you are over 44

Up to six cycles of IUI treatment are recommended for unexplained infertility or mild endometriosis, or if your spouse has a low sperm count. If you keep trying for up to six times you do increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

Are there any downsides to IUI?

Despite the benefits (see top section, Could IUI benefit us?) IUI is not for everyone.

  • The timing of the insemination is crucial, so your spouse must be able to produce a sperm sample by ejaculating into a cup on demand at the clinic.
  • It may be uncomfortable if it proves difficult to insert the catheter. And the procedure may cause cramps similar to period pains.
  • With stimulated cycles there is a very small risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This serious condition happens when your ovaries respond too well to the fertility drugs that cause you to ovulate. The ovaries rapidly swell up to several times their normal size and can leak fluid into your tummy, making you gain weight and feel full and bloated.

It’s vital that you seek medical help if you think you are experiencing OHSS. You may need to stay in hospital while your ovaries settle down, and your doctor will probably advise cancelling your IUI treatment for this cycle. That’s because the risks of conceiving a multiple pregnancy will be too great.


Assisted conception treatments

Assisted conception treatments

If you are considering assisted conception treatments, you’ve probably spent a long while trying for a baby.

If you or your partner has a fertility problem, assisted conception techniques may offer you the chance of having a much-wanted child. As treatment success rates continue to improve, more and more couples are choosing to take this route.

What are assisted conception treatments?

Assisted conception treatments are often paired with fertility drugs to increase your chance of conceiving. The younger you are, the greater your chance of success of conceiving through these treatments.

For women under 35, the number of babies born as a result of fertility treatments is as high as one in three.

What are the risks of assisted conception treatments?

Though the treatments can be invasive and expensive, there is little evidence of long-term health effects for most women and babies from the procedures or the fertility drugs used. Fertility drugs are always used at the lowest dose for the shortest time possible to reduce side effects and potential risks.

Some assisted conception techniques create a slightly higher risk of your baby being born with a problem. Rest assured that these problems are not common. Links have been made between assisted conception treatments and a greater risk of pregnancy, labour or birth complications, but age and multiple pregnancies go some way to explain these increased risks.

The older you are, the more likely you are to need fertility treatment and to experience complications, such as miscarriage, premature birth and caesarean.

While twins or triplets may sound like an ideal way to kick-start your family, there are risks associated with multiple pregnancies. Clinics follow strict guidelines to reduce the rate of multiple births resulting from assisted conception.

These risks mean doctors treat assisted conception procedures as a last resort for having a baby.

What assisted conception treatment options are there?

Assisted conception treatments include:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI). Sperm are inserted directly into your uterus (womb) at the time of ovulation.
  • In vitro fertilisation (IVF). Eggs are gathered from your ovaries and combined with your partner’s sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are transplanted into your uterus.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). A single sperm is injected straight into a single egg in the laboratory and the resulting embryo is transplanted into your uterus.
  • Donated sperm. If your partner has a low sperm count, or produces no sperm at all, donor sperm may be used for donor insemination or IVF.
  • Donated eggs or embryos. If you are unable to conceive using your own eggs, an egg donated by another woman can be combined with your partner’s sperm. The resulting embryo is then implanted in your uterus. A donated embryo can be used in the same way.
  • Surrogacy. Another woman carries your baby, or a baby from a donor embryo, to term. She then entrusts the baby’s care to you after the birth.

If you are considering fertility treatment, the British Infertility Counselling Association offers advice and contact details for counsellors. And you can talk to others about assisted conception treatments in our community. Talking through your options may help you to deal with the many emotions and decisions which you will face along the way.


Fertility drugs for women

Fertility drugs for women

Couple talking to a doctor

What do fertility drugs for women do?

For many infertile couples, fertility drugs are the first step in treatment. Fertility drugs work by increasing the levels of certain hormones in your body. These hormones help to mature and release one or more eggs each month (ovulation). If you ovulate rarely or irregularly, fertility drugs could help you. Fertility drugs are also necessary as part of some assisted conception treatments, such as IVF.

Some fertility drugs are used in IVF treatment cycles because controlling the development and release of eggs from your ovaries can increase your chance of success.

Many fertility drugs have been used safely and successfully for decades. But some can result in severe side-effects and a higher chance of multiple pregnancy . But you have to weigh up your desire to have a baby against the chances of having side-effects and of carrying twins or more. Bear in mind that monitoring by a fertility specialist using ultrasound scans will significantly reduce the risks.

Which fertility drugs for women are available?

The most popular fertility drugs for women are:

  • clomifene citrate
  • metformin hydrochloride
  • gonadotrophins
  • bromocriptine

All these help ovulation to happen, but which drug is right for you will depend on the reason why you’re having difficulty ovulating and conceiving.

Clomifene citrate

Clomifene citrate blocks the effect of the hormone oestrogen in your body. This blocking effect tricks your body into bumping up levels of two other hormones that are essential for ovulation. These two other hormones are:

  • follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • luteinising hormone (LH)

FSH causes the eggs in your ovaries to ripen, ready for release. LH triggers the release of one or more mature eggs from the ovary follicles. The egg or eggs then move down into one of your fallopian tubes.

You usually take clomifene in pill form for five days early in your cycle, for up to six months at a time . Brand names for clomifene citrate are Clomifene and Clomid.

Metformin hydrochloride

Metformin hydrochloride is a drug that makes the body more sensitive to the hormone insulin. It is licensed as a treatment for diabetes but is also effective for treating ovulation problems in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It may be used on its own or in combination with clomifene.

It is particularly useful for women who are obese, as they are more likely to have problems with their insulin levels. It is also useful for women who are resistant to the effects of clomifene when it is used on its own.

You take metformin daily in several doses. It works by lowering levels of insulin circulating in your blood and this in turn can lower testosterone levels and help the body to ovulate normally. You may be prescribed metformin under the brand name Glucophage.


Luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are types of gonadoptrophins. LH and FSH directly stimulate your ovaries to produce and ripen eggs. Gonadotrophins are usually used for women with PCOS who have not responded to other drugs or for women undergoing IVF.

You can have LH and FSH as a course of injections over about 12 days. The injections make your ovaries start to develop and mature egg follicles. The injections of LH and FSH will be followed by a final injection of another hormone, called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG).

LH and hCG tell your ovaries to release the egg (or eggs) that they have just developed. Both hormones are used in some fertility treatments, because both hormones have an action on your follicles. LH stimulates the follicle to release the egg. HCG ensures the follicle is in the right condition to release progesterone and therefore help to maintain a pregnancy.

There are several brand names for gonadotrophins. Merional and Menopur contain FSH and LH. Gonal F, Menotrophin and Puregon contain FSH only. Choragon and Pregnyl contain hCG.


Bromocriptine is used to correct a hormonal imbalance that can prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg every month.

You might benefit from taking bromocriptine if you have too much of the hormone prolactin in your body. Too much prolactin reduces levels of the hormone oestrogen. This, in turn, causes problems with ovulation, making it difficult to get pregnant.

You can take bromocriptine as tablets that you swallow or as capsules that you insert into your vagina. The brand name for bromocriptine is Parlodel.


infertility, IVF and assisted conception treatment

Assisted conception (or ‘fertility treatment’ or often referred to collectively as Assisted Reproduction Technology “ART”) is a general term to describe all the methods used to help a woman achieve a pregnancy when she is having difficulty conceiving. Some of the more complex activities are currently regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
The world’s first ‘test-tube baby’. Louise Brown. was born in the UK in 1978. Her birth offered hope to infertile couples across the world. Since then. thousands of couples have made use of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and other assisted conception techniques. The success rates of these treatments continue to improve.
Today. assisted conception treatments are tailored to individual patients’ unique conditions. These procedures are usually paired with more conventional therapies. such as fertility drugs. to increase success rates. On average. one in five couples who use assisted conception techniques gives birth to a baby or in some cases twins or even triplets depending on the technique.
However. the procedures are invasive and expensive. In addition. although no long-term health effects have been linked to children born using the new reproductive technologies. most doctors recommend reserving such procedures as a last resort for having a baby.
What are the reasons for having assisted conception?
No one knows for certain how many couples have difficulty conceiving. since some will decide not to seek medical treatment. In the UK. however. approximately one in six couples do seek medical help to have a baby. In most cases there will be one or more causes that a specialist can pinpoint and. possibly. treat.
Contrary to popular belief. infertility is not just a woman’s problem. In fact. it strikes men and women almost equally. About 35 per cent of cases can be attributed to men. 35-40 per cent to women. and the rest to multiple factors affecting both partners. some of which remain unexplained.
The three most common reasons for assisted conception are that the woman’s ovaries are not producing eggs. her fallopian tubes (tubes from the uterus to the ovary) are damaged or that the man’s sperm are too few or unhealthy. These reasons account for about 90 per cent of all cases. Treatments are available for both male and female fertility problems.
Ovulation and egg quality
Conditions in this category include polycystic ovary syndrome. poor egg quality. and irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate (because of hormonal deficiencies or imbalances). These problems. especially deteriorating egg quality. are often age-related. and apply most often to women aged over 37.
Possible solutions: Treatments include fertility drugs. in vitro fertilisation (IVF). and use of a donor egg.
Blocked fallopian tubes
Infections. endometriosis. scar tissue. adhesions. and damaged tube ends (fimbria) can result in blocked or otherwise abnormal fallopian tubes. Even if you ovulate regularly. blocked tubes make pregnancy next to impossible. since your egg can’t get to your uterus. and sperm can’t get to your egg.
Possible solutions: The main treatment is usually IVF. However. if the blockage is found to be limited to a small area it might be possible to clear it by keyhole or open tubal surgery to remove the blocked portion. Infections such as chlamydia tend to damage the whole length of the tube and are less amenable to surgery. A laparoscopy is usually carried out to determine which is the most appropriate treatment for you.
Male-factor problems
In men. infertility can be the result of a blocked vas deferens or epididymis. poor sperm quality. low sperm motility (the sperm’s ability to move). a semen deficiency. or not having enough (or any) sperm to begin with.
Possible solutions: Just as women often undergo surgery to open blocked fallopian tubes. men may have an operation to clear their blocked tubes (again. a full assessment. including hormonal tests and an evaluation of sperm motility. precedes surgery). If something else is at the root of the problem. fertility drugs may boost sperm production. or a man’s sperm can be used to artificially inseminate his partner. Other options include using donor sperm or injecting sperm directly into the egg (intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI).
Other causes
A minority of cases include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). recurrent miscarriage. endometriosis (also under blocked fallopian tubes) or some other unexplained condition as a reason for assisted conception. Discuss possible solutions and treatments with your GP who will refer you to an infertility specialist if necessary.
What are the Treatment Options ?
Your treatment options will vary according to the cause of your infertility. Your doctor may well suggest trying the least invasive options first. The newer and more high-tech treatments. such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). are considered a last resort. largely because of their cost and complexity. However. drug treatment and surgery are very effective. In fact. of those couples who successfully go on to have children. most are treated with fertility drugs or surgery only.
The right treatment for each couple depends on many factors. including:& ;
  • the age of the woman
  • the quality of the man’s sperm
  • how long the couple have been infertile
  • whether or not the woman has had a previous pregnancy.
Your treatment options – from least to most invasive – are:
Fertility drugs
When hormones are out of balance or in short supply for women (and. in some cases. for men). these drugs may get your reproductive system back on track.
Artificial insemination (AI)
In some cases. sperm just need a shortcut to the egg. A concentrated dose of your partner’s sperm placed in your uterus or fallopian tubes can aid fertilisation. AI. also known as Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can also help couples where the man’s sperm is unable to get through the woman’s cervical mucus. Donor sperm may also be used.
Blocked tubes. endometriosis. fibroids and ovarian cysts – all implicated in fertility problems – are often treated with surgery.
Assisted Conception Treatments
Fertility drugs and other conventional treatment options are combined with high-tech procedures. such as egg collection. to treat low sperm counts. fallopian tube problems. or ovulation problems. These procedures include in vitro fertilisation (IVF). gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT). intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). and the use of donated eggs or sperm. The use of a surrogate mother is considered by some couples.
Investigations and treatment for infertility are normally undertaken in a specialised fertility clinic. To decide what treatment to use. some routine tests are carried out by the specialist. To see whether the woman is ovulating (producing eggs) her blood is tested for the levels of some hormones called progesterone. luteinising hormone. follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and testosterone. She will have an ultrasound scan of the womb. tubes and ovaries.xx
The specialist may decide to carry out a laparoscopy an operative procedure to examine the inside of the abdomen using a long. thin instrument (laparoscope) and a hysterosalpingogram (a special X-ray of the womb and fallopian tubes). These tests show whether the ovaries look normal and whether the tubes are damaged or blocked.xx
The man needs to produce a sample of semen for a sperm test to check the numbers of sperm. whether they are motile (able to move normally) and whether they have a normal structure.

What happens during treatment for female infertility?

Ovulation induction
Ovulation induction is a technique that stimulates the inactive ovary to produce eggs. At its simplest it involves the woman taking a drug called clomiphene for six days each month. This method is most often used for women who have conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. in which the ovaries do not produce eggs.
Ovulation induction is also the first stage of preparation for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). which is the treatment needed by most women whose tubes are damaged. Three hormones are used: one to suppress the ovaries. one to stimulate several eggs to develop simultaneously and one to ripen the eggs. The aim is to control the timing of the woman’s cycle accurately so that eggs can be removed to be fertilised on a specific day. A normal monthly cycle will produce only one egg but this method produces several ripe eggs at once to increase the chances of a pregnancy. This is called ‘superovulation’.
The first hormone. buserelin. is usually given as a nasal spray taken every day from the first day of the period. After two weeks the woman has an ultrasound scan to make sure the ovaries are inactive. She then starts the next hormone. FSH. which is given by a daily injection. A second scan is done after 10 days of taking FSH to make sure enough eggs are developing and then the woman has one injection of HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). The eggs should then be ready for collection 36 hours later.
Egg collection
Egg collection is the process of removing the ripe eggs in order to fertilise them. It is carried out in an operating theatre while the woman is awake. but with an injection of a strong painkiller and a tranquilliser. A speculum is put into the vagina. similar to the procedure for a smear test. A thin needle is passed through the vagina and into the ovary to collect the eggs (the doctor can see the ovaries by using an ultrasound scanner on the abdomen). The procedure takes about 20 minutes in total.
The eggs are mixed with the partner’s sperm on the same day and after 12-18 hours they are checked under a microscope to see if they have fertilised. Embryos (fertilised eggs) can be introduced into the womb using a thin tube passed through the cervix (neck of the womb). This is done about 36 hours after fertilisation and it is very quick and painless. The final stage is a pregnancy test after about 12 days.
What happens during treatment for male infertility?
If the man has a very low sperm count or the sperm are not motile enough. the specialist may advise the couple to have intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The woman undergoes ovulation induction and the embryos are transferred as described above. but in the fertilisation process the sperm is actually injected into the egg through a very fine glass tube. This technique can result in pregnancy even with sperm of very low motility.
Surgical sperm collection may be suitable for men who have no sperm at all in their semen. This may be because the man has a blocked vas deferens. the duct that takes sperm from the testis. or because he has had a vasectomy; sometimes the testicles simply produce very few sperm. Sperm can be sucked out of the tubes below the level of the blockage or from the testicle itself. Both of these procedures are carried out with a fine needle under local anaesthetic at the same time as the woman’s eggs are being collected. The eggs can be fertilised by ICSI and then transferred into the womb.
Other techniques
IVF can be carried out with donor sperm or donor eggs. The sperm and embryos can also be frozen for future use. You will need to discuss these methods with your specialist. There are other techniques that are similar to IVF. such as GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer). but these are undertaken less often because they tend to be less successful.
Donor insemination :
If the man has no sperm at all (azoospermia) or very few sperm present (severe oligospermia) donor insemination (sperm donation) may be the only option open to them. Sperm is inseminated into the womb after ovulation has been precisely timed.
Egg donation :
This may be offered to women who have undergone a premature menopause. which may occur for a variety of reasons. or to women who consistently respond poorly to ovarian stimulation in IVF. If you are unable to conceive using your own eggs. an egg donated by another woman can be used. The donor must be prepared to undergo stimulation of the ovaries with drugs and egg collection as if she were undergoing IVF herself. The eggs are then fertilized with sperm from the infertile woman’s partner and the embryos replaced in the infertile woman’s womb. This procedure can also be done with a donated embryo.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT):
‘Gamete’ refers to the basic genetic contribution from each partner — a sperm or an egg. In GIFT. your eggs are removed. mixed together with your partner’s sperm in a dish in a laboratory. then placed into your fallopian tubes. Fertilisation happens inside your body and the embryo implants naturally. A variation on this technique is Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT). ‘Zygote’ is a term used to refer to a newly fertilised egg. In ZIFT. your collected eggs are fertilised with your partner’s sperm in a dish in a laboratory and then replaced in your fallopian tubes.
Another woman carries your embryo. or a donor embryo. to term and gives the baby to you after birth.
Cryopreservation (Embryo freezing and storage).
Clinics are only allowed to replace up to 3 embryos during a treatment cycle because of the risks of multiple pregnancies (it is normally 2 with the exception of& ;some circumstances). Ask if the clinic has freezing and storage facilities so that any spare embryos can be frozen for future treatments. If any spare embryos are not required for further treatment you can donate them to others for treatment. donate them for research purposes or allow them to perish. It is very important that you discuss these options between yourselves and with your clinic as joint consent must be given. There is usually an annual cost associated with freezing and storage although this is fairly minimal.
What are the possible complications of assisted conception?
Ovulation induction increases the chances of having a multiple pregnancy. The most important maternal complications associated with multiple gestation are pre-eclampsia, preterm labor and delivery, and gestational diabetes as well as the potential risks involved with prolonged bedrest (venous thromboembolism) and cesarean delivery. Prematurity, and the complications associated with it (including increased infant mortality and increased incidence of cerebral palsy), is the greatest risk for the child.
Ovulation induction can also produce a rare condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovary is overstimulated and produces an excess of the hormone oestrogen and which occurs in about 0.5 per cent of cycles. Also, any technique that involves the introduction of instruments into the body can cause infection or damage to internal organs.
What are the chances of a Multiple Pregnancy ?
Multiple gestation, especially triplet and higher order pregnancy, is not the desired consequence of assisted conception technologies since it increases the risk of complications for both mother and baby. The goal of any reproductive technology is the birth of a single healthy child and the conception of twins or higher is considered a complication. Ovulation induction increases the chances of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets etc). The rate of multiple pregnancy is increased compared to spontaneous conception. Unlike natural conception where the chance of having a multiple birth is relatively low (1 in every 65 pregnancies), assisted conception brings with it a high chance of a multiple birth (roughly 1 in 4 IVF deliveries is of twins i.e. the chance of twins is approximately 20 to 25 per cent.). Although most twins are born healthy, the chance of complications during pregnancy and delivery is much greater than with a singleton. The high incidence of multiple births following IVF is largely due to the fact that more than one embryo is usually transferred to the womans womb during an IVF cycle. This is done to increase the chance of conception.
Will we have to pay for treatment?
For many years in the UK, there was no central government guidance on what health authorities should offer couples seeking infertility treatment, so what was available on the NHS depended on where you lived and what treatments were offered locally – a situation sometimes referred to as “babies by postcode”.
However, the government has announced that, from April 2005, all infertile couples will be entitled to one free cycle of IVF on the NHS, provided that the woman is under 40 years old and that the couple meet local eligibility criteria. Priority will be given to couples who don’t yet have any children.
Until then, every couple has the right to be assessed for treatment but not all couples will be deemed by their Primary Care Trust as eligible for treatment. You may also find that what is available to you is rationed. For example, you may be offered fertility drugs, but nothing else, GIFT, but not IVF, tubal microsurgery, but not IVF, or a maximum of three cycles of IVF. However, some Primary Care Trusts offer no help at all for infertile couples.
Most Primary Care Trusts also have criteria determining who they will fund for treatment. You may find that you need to be married, under 35, or to have lived in the district for a certain number of years. There are also long waiting lists for treatment in many areas.
Many couples, where they can afford it, use a mix of both NHS and private treatment. To be treated at a private clinic, you have to conform to the clinic’s eligibility criteria (a clinic may not treat you if you are over 45, for example). Costs vary widely between clinics, often by several thousand pounds. Always ask in advance what the full cost of each treatment cycle is likely to be. Don’t forget the hidden costs, too, of taking time off work and travel expenses – you may need to make many journeys to the clinic.
Although all clinics have their own price list you can expect IVF or GIF or Egg Donation to cost between £1000 – £3000 per attempt. NHS units will probably not charge for basic infertility investigations and some treatments. However they may have to charge for the more advanced assisted conception techniques but usually less than at a private unit.& ;Basic investigations, i.e. blood tests, semen analysis etc, can be expected to cost £150 – £200 and consultations can cost as much as £100 each time at a Private unit. The cost of drugs used in assisted conception is rarely covered. One average cycle may cost from £500 – £750.
What is the outcome of assisted conception?
Success depends largely on the cause of your infertility and your age – younger women are more likely to get pregnant than women over 40. Making sure you are in the best of health, perhaps limiting alcohol and caffeine, improving your diet, and giving up smoking can go a long way toward bettering your odds of getting pregnant (a dad-to-be’s diet matters, too).
Don’t discount the emotional stresses involved. Find a willing friend, support group, or professional to talk to before tackling infertility and also while you’re going through fertility treatment.
Your clinic will give you figures relating to the various types of treatment on offer and you may like to compare these to the national average success rates. The most recent information on IVF and donor insemination statistics is available from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) which monitors the clinics that provide these treatments. To give you an idea of the success rates for IVF, the national average “take-home baby rate” is around 17 per cent.
However, do not judge a clinic by its statistics alone; it may specialise in treating older women, for example, where success rates are naturally lower. If a clinic has a great deal of experience in treating your particular problem, that clinic may be your best option. Another factor to bear in mind is how long the clinic has been established. The HFEA a government body that licence fertility treatment and research clinics in the UK, now provides information about choosing a clinic which allows patients to search for clinics in their location and see success rates and the different services they offer. It is designed to help you make informed choices. It contains a full list of information which you may want to consider before beginning treatment and questions to ask at prospective treatment centres.
The HFEA have recently updated their website and focused especially on making it as informative as they can for patients, i.e. allowing them to see exactly what to expect when embarking upon fertility treatment or considering donation.
Your doctor may suggest you move on after three tries with any treatment option; some experts believe a treatment isn’t likely to work if it hasn’t by your third round. But keep in mind that each couple’s case is individual; six attempts with IVF is certainly not unheard of.
Good luck!
Useful Addresses
Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority,
Paxton House,
30 Artillery Lane, LONDON
El 7LS.
Tel: 020 7377 5077
British Infertility Counsellors Association,
69 Division Street
Sheffield, S. Yorkshire.
DC Network (Donor Conception Network)
Tel: 0208 245 4369.
Set up by and for parents of Dl children and those contemplating or undergoing treatment using donated gametes.
COTS (Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy),
Loandhu Cottage, Gruids Lairg, Sutherland, SCOTLAND IV27 4EF.
Tel: 01549 402401.
Multiple Birth Foundation,
Queen Charlotte’s &; Chelsea Hospital,
Goldhawk Road, LONDON W6 OXG
National Infertility Awareness Campaign,
PO Box 2106, LONDON W1A 3DZ.
Tel: 0800 716345 (Freephone).
Clare Brown IN UK
Tel: 08701 188088

Double, Triple or Quadruple fun, it’s birthday time!!!!

Double, Triple or Quadruple fun, it’s birthday time!!!!

As a parent of twins, triplets or more, having a birthday party for multiple children can be challenging. So how do you make sure that each child receives individual attention and how do you keep a group of children occupied and happy?

Following are some ideas and tips for planning a party for your twins, triplets or more, hopefully it will lessen the pre-party stress and allow you to relax and enjoy their BIG day.

Top 10 Tips

  1. Make sure you have a birthday cake for each child. In their favourite colour, flavour, style and theme.
  2. ALWAYS have a back-up plan for an outdoor party. Make sure that whatever you plan for an outdoor party can be easily adapted to an indoor party, in the event of bad weather.
  3. Limit the number of guests, a couple of friends each is enough.
  4. Plan age appropriate activities so the children won’t be overwhelmed.
  5. Sing the “Happy Birthday” song to each child.
  6. For young children, keep parties simple and short.
  7. Always have extras of everything from food to party bags as unexpected guests may turn up. It’s always better to have food left over than to not have had enough to feed everyone.
  8. Remain flexible and keep your sense of humour! Yes, it’s going to be Multiples Mayhem!
  9. Draft in help – ask a few friends or family members for help on party day. I recommend 1 adult per 4 children (serve/cook food, play games, write list of gifts received, take pictures, tidy up etc)
  10. If you have young children, don’t let the party run into naptime and try not to interrupt their normal bedtime routine if at all possible. Plan to finish your party to allow enough time for your children to “wind-down” – after all it’s an exciting day but you don’t want them over-excited just before bedtime!

Planning Schedule

Some of the planning might not be appropriate based upon the children’s age and communication skills. It may help to check off as each step is completed.

6 – 8 weeks to go…

  • Decide location – at home or elsewhere (park, swimming, playzone, local hall etc..)
  • Decide on the number of guests – write guest list (decide if friends siblings are invited)
  • Select a theme.
  • Choose a date and time.
  • Check for School holidays and events like Mother’s day, Easter Sunday or Father’s Day.
  • Think about nap times & plan party around them.
  • Hiring an entertainer and/or equipment ? Call to book them.
  • Ask a few friends/family members to help out on party day.

2 – 3 weeks to go…

  • Buy invitations and thank you cards.
  • Write and send invitations.
  • Keep a list of invitees near the phone for RSVP’s.
  • Decide on food to be served (keep it simple).
  • Order cakes (if you aren’t baking one yourself).
  • Remind helpers that the party is soon!

1 week to go…

  • Select 4-6 party activities (age appropriate)
  • Select prizes and items needed for activities.
  • Play or read instructions on any games or activities with which you are unfamiliar and make sure you have any books and music that you will need.

2 – 3 days to go…

  • Call any guests who have not responded.
  • Shop for food being served and buy candles!
  • Buy sweets and small gifts for party bags, pinata, balloons & batteries for the camera.
  • Prepare any craft activities (cutting, copying etc)
  • Fill the Party Bags.
  • Charge camera/video camera battery.

The day before the party…

  • Put away any items that may be dangerous or fragile.
  • Bake or pick up cake.
  • Confirm entertainer.
  • Confirm mum’s helpers.

4 – 5 hours to go…

  • Cut finger sized fruit or veggies, make dips. etc
  • Clean party area. Don”t bother trying to clean ahead especially with twins or more !
  • Hang decorations and banners.
  • Set up tables or activity areas.
  • Put candles in cake and put matches in safe place.
  • Blow up balloons (helium filled ones will last around 8 hours)
  • Tie balloons and a banner to the front of house to make it easy for guests to find your home.
  • Place crafts and prizes near the activity locations.
  • Put pen/paper near gift table to log gifts as opened for thank you cards.

1 hour to go…

  • Put any pets in an area away from the guests (allergies).
  • Get twins dressed.
  • Get siblings dressed.
  • Get husband/significant other dressed.
  • Get yourself dressed! (last as usual).
  • Set out the food and drinks table(s).
  • or if you are taking my advice and keeping it simple – call for pizza delivery!
  • Have mum’s helpers arrive.
  • Have a well planned, stress free, fun party!!!

top 10 things i love having twins

Being a parent of twins. triplets and multiples is a rollercoaster of emotions – full of ups and downs. There are many challenging times but also plenty of moments where you feel so lucky and blessed to have them and I would like to celebrate the double joy of twins.

Here are some of the things that I love most about being a mum of twins. These two charmers are my gorgeous twins. Abbey and Ellen.& at 8 months – a rare picture of them in dresses !

1) Double Blessings

Every child fills their parents’ hearts and home with joy. That’s what I really love about having twins. Everybody says it (well. after they get over the twinshock !) and it really is true – you really do get double the love and joy although you may have to wait a while to really feel the benefit. Holding twins in my arms was so incredible after waiting such a long time to have them. Holding hands with two toddlers — one on the right. and one on the left — while crossing the street makes me feel so proud and yes. I love the attention that having twins brings too. Double hugs. double kisses. mummy-in-the-middle “sandwich” cuddles on the couch… life just doesn’t get any better than that !

2) A Mind of their Own !

Parenting happens in stages.& I found it much easier to manage two infants or two toddlers. than those mothers having to try and juggle the needs of a baby and a pre-schooler. These phases of parenthood are experienced more intensely. sometimes. because they are simultaneous. but I love it that way. Yes. the first year is tough. very tough but even during this there are moments of sheer joy like their first smiles and giggles and they also start to develop their own personalities and ways of getting what they want !

3) Magical Milestones

It’s always exciting to see your child meet a milestone. But when two or more multiples accomplish their goals simultaneously. it’s a wonderful experience for a family. For example. I was bursting with pride when both of my twins spoke for the first time and then started to talk to each other or when they did their first painting and proudly held it up to show mummy. One of my girls had a long physical delay so her sister was running long before she could even stand. Once she reached the goal of standing on her own. there was no stopping the two of them and her sister held her hand and helped her learn to run and jump it was truly moving to see them achieve so much together.

4) Making Each Other Laugh

It’s such fun to hear them share jokes. call each other by nicknames (mine are apparently called Brittany and Jo-Lo !) and role play their special scenarios. Often when we are driving down the road. giggles erupt from the car seats in the back seat. As one laughs. the other also breaks out in giggles the spur each other on the entire ride home. What a sweet sound those giggles are and its so lovely to hear them laugh or sing together. not at each other. but with each other.

5) So Alike. But So Different

It’s fascinating to be an observer of twins. With so many similarities. but such stark differences. it’s always interesting to see how they develop as individuals. Where parents of singletons may say. “Oh. you are just like your sister was at that age.” parents of multiples have an instant basis of comparison and contrast among their children. I love the fact my girls are so different in many ways but then again similar in some. Their personalities are quite individual but its fascinating to watch them as they pick up on each others habits or little quirky ways. The copying might drive you insane at times but you can’t help but laugh !

6) Two for the Price of One !

Short and sweet…….one pregnancy and two babies – talk about efficiency !& Although a pregnancy with multiples may have more risks and sometimes more complications. this is truly a great deal. As an ‘older’ mum going through a few years of IVF. I was truly praying for twins and was overjoyed at my first scan much to the surpise of the doctor !

7) A Sense of Status

Okay. I admit it. I get a little thrill of pride in being a mum of twins. It’s like being a part of an elite club. You feel an instant bond with other parents of multiples. I love the reaction I get when I tell people I have twins. “Wow!” “I always wanted twins…” “I don’t know how you do it…” It’s almost like we enjoy an exclusive status in the parenting world. earning a slight nod of respect for pulling double duty. Of course. even twin mums bow down to those of triplets or higher order multiples – now really – how do they do it !

8) Sharing & Caring

Twins share everything — their birthday. their parents’ attention. and many of their belongings. Although they may get frustrated with their situation. as a parent. it’s very gratifying to witness their “what’s mine is yours” attitude in a moment of unselfish benevolence. My heart actually fills with joy when my girls spontaneously share something or when one asks for another biscuit or toy for their twin sister and the biggest joy of all are spontaneous cuddles – it almost brings a tear to my eyes ! Of course. I admit its not always quite the caring and sharing household it could be !

9) A Beautiful Bond

The twin bond is more enduring than any other relationship on earth. starting even before birth. and often outlasting many friendships and even marriages. Despite their squabbles. it’s comforting to know that they will (hopefully) enjoy their unique relationship for all of their lives. They will always have a friend. a playmate and someone to confide in and someone to share their joys and tears. As their mother. I feel really privileged to be a party to their special bond. and to have the opportunity to nurture it. Although it is often said that fraternal twins are no more alike than siblings of different ages. there is an undisputable special bond between twins and multiples that goes beyond being merely siblings.

10) Confidence in Companionship

I love the confidence that my twins exhibit simply because they have always had each other to rely on. I love to watch them enter new. unfamiliar situations with confidence because they are together. I love seeing all the ways that being a twin shapes their personalities. both as an advantage and a disadvantage. They have never known loneliness because they’ve always had each other as a companion. When they are briefly separated. they ask for each other and often seek each other out in social situations. However. they still seem to have a great sense of self and have strong individual personalities which I try to encourage as much as possible as it’s important they learn to ‘survive’ without each other but that sense of knowing someone is always there for you must be& truly wonderful.

So. I hope I have convinced you that you are truly lucky to have twins. triplets or even more and if you are still in the first year – hang in there – it REALLY does get better and better !


twins- inspirated gifts

Searching for the perfect baby gift for twins? These creative and practical ideas will bring the multiples-mum-to-be double the joy and the best thing is the gift-giving doesn’t stop at pregnancy….we have gifts and cards for all ages and for all members of your family, so Siblings, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles and even Godparents can have lovely keepsakes too!

Twin pregnancy is definitely on the rise and with so many new multiple mums expecting twins, you may find yourself needing a special gift to take to a twin baby shower, to the hospital or as a welcome home gift for newborn twins. Fortunately, at TwinsUK, we have a terrific range of twins gifts and, best of all, they are exclusively designed by our creative team of award-winning gift-ware designers, just for twins and their proud families.

Our twin-inspired online store has everything for twins, parents and their extended family. The great thing is the sheer selection of gifts available for the multiples community. From congratulations cards to coordinating clothing and even jewellery, you’re sure to find something truly unique and special to give. Here are five fabulous ideas to get you started that anyone expecting twins would appreciate:

  1. A twins gift basket or gift set. The simplest and most impressive of gifts for twins and still at the top of the list! There is such variety here in themes and price which is a great help when buying for two. Plus, they are immediately ready for gift giving! Our most popular Dr Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 twins clothing range has everything from baby twins hats and bootees to PJs and toddler tees plus gift baskets for newborn twins, toddler twins and even one for their 1st year. Why not take a look at the complete Dr Seuss Gift Range – you’re sure to find something to chuckle about with those mischievous twins, Thing 1 and Thing 2!

If you want to make your own Gift Box then simply go to our TwinKit Builder and add your selection of gifts, we’ll them pack it in one of our unique TwinKit Boxes and send it to your recipient, we’ll even write your special message in your chosen card.

  1. A twin journal or diary (essential for keeping newborn twins and you organised!). Think about practicality and parents will love you trust me, I’m a mother of twins myself and I designed all our Double Diaries! For the early daze there’s Double Duty a care guide and schedule that will keep you on track and very handy for the clinic too. Followed by Double Helpings a guide on weaning twins, suitable from 4-6 months with tips and tricks to handle the multiples mess. For those of you who may have childcare, no need to be concerned about how your twins are doing in nursery as we have developed Double Daycare which combines a daily diary and development guide, so you can ensure you don’t miss out on your twins activities and daily care.
  2. Twin-themed t-shirts and shoes are really popular and we have two trendy new ranges for you. I love my twin is iconic and the red and white colours make them perfect for twins girls or twin boys. Two Peas in a Pod is just as adorable with twin pea pods and slogan. Both styles come in either the cutest t-shirts or soft leather shoes and they can also be bought together as a gift set packed in a lovely gift box, sure to please every parent of twins.
  3. Twin themed poster prints and nursery gifts. We have some great gifts for a twin nursery including our fun Twins Alphabet Blocks and our very popular Hush Twins Sleeping Sign although we cant guarantee they’ll sleep when you want them too! For twin boys and girls, we also have our colourful Twin Princes and Twin Princesses Hanging Signs perfect for the royalty in your home!
  4. Hand-painted ceramic gifts our new range of pottery is beautifully finished and is available in two designs, either blue star or red heart and there really is something for all the family. The Twins Trinket Boxes are simply adorable and for those pennies, there are Twin Treasures Money Boxes. These make great gifts for newborn twins or as a Twin Christening gift.

We also have Chunky Child Cups and the cutest Twin Egg Cups which can be bought as Twins Breakfast Set too. And we haven’t forgotten Mum, Dad, Grandma and Grandad as there are Teatime Gift Sets and XL large Cups and Coasters, so everyone can have a relaxing cuppa after a day with the twins!

We have so much more in store for you as this is just a small selection of some of most popular twins gifts. To find all of the gifts mentioned above and more in your quest for the perfect twin gift, visit our Gift Finder service or our online Gift Shop



easter gifts for twins

At Easter time, why not think outside the egg box this year and give friends and family something other than the proverbial chocolate egg? Instead of rushing to the shops, put your feet up, peruse our range of eggcellent Easter pressies, and get them delivered straight to your door in time for Easter.

Handmade Eggs and Twin Egg Cups

Nothing says Happy Easter better than a completed handcrafted egg. Styrofoam egg kits with decorations are available at craft stores and are inexpensive. The twins can design each egg with bows, beads, paint and ribbons. Once the eggs are complete place them in our gorgeous hand-painted twin egg cups for a truly eggciting twins gift!

Hand-painted Ceramics

Our new ceramics collection has something for all the family. With a contemporary red polka dot heart or blue star, there are teatime gift sets for mum, dad and grandparents of twins, chunky child cups and egg cups, twin treasures money boxes and adorable twins trinket boxes…the perfect gifts for Christenings, Birthdays, Easter, Christmas or just as a special gift for the ones you love!

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Dr Seuss is an all-year round favourite and what better way to dress to impress with some of our Dr Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 clothing range. From hats and bootees to baby vests and t-shirts we have a lovely selection of trendy twin gifts with a Dr Seuss twin theme. Our Gift Baskets are the perfect present for Easter, Christmas and Birthdays as well as for newborn baby twins too!

Twins & Triplets Framed Pictures

An updated photo of twin grandchildren is a great idea regardless of the time of year. With a digital camera and photo printer you can make a picture in minutes. Personalise it with special messages and place it in one of our fabulous twin or triplet frames. We have a large selection of exclusively created photgraph frames for all the family and for every occasion from births to birthdays and Christenings to Christmas….if you’re looking for a special twin or triplet memento then our photo frames and albums make a lovely keepsake for years to come.

Two Peas in a Pod

Whether your twins are like two peas in a pod or completely different theyll look cute as can be in our fun t-shirts and baby shoes for two! And for little ones, we also have a great snuggle toy that makes a great gift for twins.

Baby Bibs for Twins & Triplets

Keep the multiples mess at bay with our adorable and funny baby bibs, made exclusively for twins and triplets. Got twins, triplets or more? Oh me, oh my! Who do you feed first?! The hungriest? Your “favourite”? The one who yells the loudest? These bibs certainly won’t help with their funny or cute slogans.. choose from Feed Me First or We Stick Together for twins and triplets or Cute Twins and Twin 1 and Twin 2 for twins…easy on, easy off, and loads of fun!

For more great Twins Gifts ideas, take a look at our full range of gifts for twins and triplets.


Protecting Against Toxoplasmosis

Protecting Against Toxoplasmosis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to protect your unborn child is by protecting yourself against toxoplasmosis.

  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant change your cat’s litter box daily. If this is not possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box every day. Wash your hands well with soap and water afterward.
  • Also, wash your hands with soap and water after any exposure to soil, sand, raw meat, or unwashed vegetables. Wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly. Do not taste meat before it is fully cooked.
  • Freeze meat for several days before cooking to greatly reduce the chance of infection.
  • Wash all cutting boards and knives thoroughly with hot, soapy water after each use.
  • Wash and/or peel all fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Avoid drinking untreated water, particularly when traveling in less developed countries.

expecting twins-preparation & survival tips

Just how do you prepare for a multiple birth and most importantly how do you survive those first few weeks with your newborn twins!! Delyth Raffell, mother of twin girls and founder of TwinsUK writes from her own experience about the challenges of having twins.
Other issues that many multiple birth parents will face are how to handle the important issues of work, your relationship and maintaining your sanity when you are raising twins.
Seek Information & Support
“Unfortunately. as my girls arrived earlier than expected. I was not very prepared but I did manage to find a book specifically for multiple births and I joined Tamba who also have some publications that are very helpful. My advice would be to get as much information as you can early in your pregnancy and you will then be better prepared. you may find that health professionals may not volunteer any information. Research on the internet and if you can. find a multiples specific antenatal class or if you can only find a “singleton” class. insist on being provided with information on multiples by your consultant. mid-wife and health visitor and ask lots of questions. Health professionals do not always give out much advice or information if you are expecting twins or more and are generally not multiples (twins or more) trained”
“There are big differences between a multiple pregnancy birth than a singleton one and it”s vitally important parents are aware of the risks and potential complications as well as birth options. Leave work earlier than you would expect in a singleton pregnancy – I was not aware that the general advice is to leave no later than 28 weeks and feel that I may have added to the risks by staying on after this and ending up in hospital 7 weeks earlier than planned. I also developed pre-eclampsia which is vitally important to detect early so you need to be aware of signs of pre-term labour and potential complications.”
“Join a local Twins & Multiples Club when you are pregnant for on-going support and real practical advice before you have your babies. I didn”t do this as I didn”t even know they existed but really wish I had and am now in two clubs. Ignore any negative comments from non-multiple parents as this may only make you more anxious and remember they have no experience. Join an online twins forum for real advice from multiples” mums if you do not have a local twins club or want advice any time day or night!”
Get Organised Early !
“Pack your hospital bag early! Get organised at home before the birth by ensuring you are stocked up on all the practical essentials. You will need enough nappies for a small army (expect 6-8 changes per day per child) and I was lucky in that at that time, I worked for Procter & Gamble who make baby products so I did actually have quite a stock already and they also gave me a complimentary baby pack for each child.”
“Finding premature baby clothes was a challenge in itself which is one of the reasons I now do a full range on the site as well as other prem items. Although the hospital will provide clothes. I wanted my babies to have their own clothes. I found it difficult to try and find out what types of equipment I needed for two and that some products were not always practical for two babies. Finding a buggy suitable for newborn twins in any high street store was almost impossible and I sourced mine from the internet.”
“Most of the staff in high street baby store staff have limited, if any, knowledge or experience of twins and multiples so will find it difficult to offer any advice on the most suitable equipment and accessories. With multiples it’s not just a case of “two of everything”.”
The First Few Weeks
“When the girls arrived. it was a major shock not only because they were 7 weeks early and I wasn’t ready but I had no idea just how life-changing this was going to be. In the hospital. I struggled with bonding with either of my babies as the birth experience had not been enjoyable and I hadn’t seen them for 3 days. They then spent weeks in incubators where you can only take them out and hold them for a few minutes so it”s really difficult to get to know your children under these circumstances. This is really hard to explain to people as the common myth is that you will fall in love with your babies as soon as you see them – this was not the case and it took a long time for me to bond with them and I felt incredibly guilty.”
“Many twins arrive early, at 37 weeks or less rather than the average of 40 weeks for a single birth. Triplets arrive on average at around week 34 and quads at week 32. Approximately 50% of twins. 90% of triplets and virtually all quadruplets are either premature (less than 37 weeks for twins) or considered low birth weight. less than 5.5lbs.”
“Once they come home you spend the majority of your day with your babies but I certainly felt a bit “cheated” as a twins mum as I didn’t have as much time to play or have fun as singleton mums as there were two of them to look after and the everyday tasks seem to take up most of your day. Although the first few months are hard. this does get better as they grow up and you do have the double joy of two first smiles. two first steps. two first words and two big kisses and cuddles later on !”
Routine. Routine. Routine !
“My girls started their life spending 7 weeks in Special Care. so it may be a bit different to some parent”s initial experiences. but this was a positive point as they established a routine whilst in the hospital which we were able to try and keep to when they came home. We had charts to ensure we knew which baby had slept. been fed. changed. given medication etc and at what times and we religiously completed these even at 4am! “
“We also found that by dividing the daily tasks between us it was a lot easier to get everything done – for instance one of Graham’s jobs was to make up the 16 bottles we used per day. Teamwork is essential when you have so much to do and I was lucky to have a very supportive husband who was involved from day one in their care. I believe having twins is an advantage for dads as they do get to be far more involved.”
“I have to admit. I ran the house like a military operation in the first few months and all hell broke loose if they decided they didn’t want to stick to it! I relaxed a lot more over the coming months but the first year is very stressful and a routine does make it easier to manage two babies” needs as well your own. I found that you do need to be flexible and adapt your routine and you may have to try a few different ways before you find things that will work for instance feeding two babies is a challenge in itself and there are many different methods – you need to establish what you are comfortable with so there is no “right or wrong way” just one that works for you.”
Focus on Priorities
Forget the housework! I found that just to get through the day was enough of a challenge. never mind worrying about daily chores like housework. cooking and ironing. I was lucky that my mother came to stay with us for the first few months and that was an enormous help. I tried to be supermum for a while and do everything but this is exhausting and you need to focus your energies on your little ones instead.
Keep Yourself Sane
Although as a mum you feel you should be able to cope with everything. it”s really important to know when and how to ask for help from others. Everyone loves twins and are really eager to help and I would ask them to run quick errands or allow me time to take a shower in peace! You really learn to value time so much more that you took for granted before children.
It”s also important to remember that you should not isolate yourself. It can be very lonely on your own at home with twins but I definitely benefited from joining the local twins clubs as you can really share your experiences and learn so much from mums who have lived through the same situations as well as have some fun. I also tried to meet up with friends occasionally and spend some time alone with Graham as it”s so easy to lose yourself once the babies arrive and your relationship can suffer.
Relationship & Work Issues
Having twins placed an enormous strain on our relationship even though we had been together for 20 years – you hear how having one baby is a life-changing experience – but having two places even more pressure on your relationship as it does feel like a relentless cycle of nappy changing. feeding. crying. washing with no end in sight and even the smallest things can be blown up out of all proportion due to lack of sleep and stress. The most difficult part of the day is when your partner arrives home from work as you feel you deserve a rest but so do they so it”s best to agree how you will manage this period beforehand. These days. I usually take half an hour off and let Graham play with the children and then we all muck in for the night-time routine.
I also struggled with leaving a job that I loved and as a life-long career woman. I found the shift to motherhood incredibly hard to adjust to but with time this does get easier and your children do become your first priority and you adapt your life around this. However. I will always feel the need to work as well as this gives me a great sense of personal achievement too. The business will allow me to be there for my children when they need me, will fulfill my aim to provide support for the multiples community and also give me the satisfaction of running my own successful business inspired by my wonderful children.
Financial Burden
There is no doubt about it having twins or more is very expensive and it”s important to set aside some money early on as you will have a lot to buy initially and. if you have no other children. like myself. there are no hand-me-downs although your family will usually be happy to help and you can get good second-hand equipment. clothing and toys from twins clubs. locals newspaper ads and friends. Make sure you ask for discounts when purchasing multiple items. You may also need to consider moving house or buying a bigger car like we did which is added expense not normally associated with having one baby.
You also need to be aware that twins or more do not get any special additional financial help from the government and although you get child benefit for two babies. this is paid at different rates for each child. You will also need to check out your maternity allowances. paternity leave and tax credits. Childcare is an enormous cost for two babies and one of the key considerations when thinking of returning to work or staying at home. When I returned to work my girls went to Nursery five days a week which costs in excess of &;pound;1000 per month. I now have a nanny which is even more expensive but gives me more time and the girls benefit from fun-filled days and one on one time with an experienced professional carer.

Twins – The Practical Issues

Sleep – What Sleep!
The honest answer to the age old sleep question is that there isn’t much when you have twins! Even though we tried to synchronise the girls” routine and split the evening/night feeds so each of us could get some sleep there is very little sleep in the first few months – for us this continued for a long time as Ellen really struggled with her eczema and this kept her awake. We did have the girls in the same room for a couple of months but we soon separated them as Ellen would constantly wake Abbey up and then you had two screaming babies to deal with !
This was probably the most challenging and stressful things to deal with and I didn”t always cope well. there were times when I would just sit in the nursery and cry as I felt I couldn”t carry on anymore but I read an article from another twins” mum that said no matter how bad it seemed. you would get through it and you do but you cannot underestimate just how tired you are going to be and how much this may affect your life and your relationship with your babies and those around you.
Feeding for Two
This is another big challenge for parents of twins. how on earth do you feed two at once ? This will depend on your feelings about breastfeeding or bottle feeding and if your babies are in SCBU. My personal experience was to express milk for the first few months as my babies were premature and this does give them the best start. I wanted Graham to be involved so expressing was a good option and then bottle feeding with formula. However. it is perfectly possible to breastfeed two babies but you will need support and advice on this. You could choose to feed them separately but I decided I wanted to keep them synchronised and fed both at the same time – this took a few attempts to find the most comfortable position as I wasn”t aware of the products you can buy to support two babies so I tried all sorts of different ways in the early months.
Weaning is another challenge but I found again. feeding them at the same time using one bowl and spoon was definitely the easiest and quickest solution. Once they start on finger food and feeding themselves. the feeding gets a lot easier although a lot messier too – get rid of carpets and lay wooden floors!
Out ‘n’ About
This may sound easy but for any parent with two or more babies this can almost seem an insurmountable task and just not worth the effort. It took me about 2-3 hours to get organised to leave the house as there is so much gear you need to pack for twins for even a short day trip and then you need to get them fed. changed. dressed and into the car or double buggy which is difficult if you are on your own with two babies. I did manage to get out as soon as they came home and you feel so much better once you”ve done it although I would recommend you take a friend with you if possible as it”s much easier with two pairs of hands and a lot more fun. However. the upside is that as you are up really early. you are still ready to go by 9am!
What I found was that it is best to re-pack your (large) changing bag every evening so at least you are ready to go and know that you won”t forget essential items like nappies!
Going shopping presented its own challenges and I found that I could only really shop in large shopping centres like the Metro Centre in Gateshead as they have wide walkways. no doors on the shops and wide aisles plus M&S provide flasks of hot water for you to make up feeds or warm baby food. Be prepared for your shopping to take twice as long (or even longer !) as you imagined as you will get stopped every few steps by inquisitive shoppers who will sometimes ask the most personal questions! I also learnt to ignore “no buggy” signs in surgeries/clinics and would ask for assistance if I needed it in anywhere else.
Delyth Raffell is the founder of Twins UK. a company dedicated to families with twins. triplets and higher multiples from pregnancy and beyond. Understanding the unique challenges of caring for multiples the site offers straight-forward advice in Twins Tips and an extensive range of multiples specialist products. everyday practical and innovative products plus a unique selection of gifts. cards and stationary for parents. families and friends. All our products and services are designed to make life with multiples a little easier and more enjoyable !!