Q&A: tips for multiples very close on the heels of an older child

Jessica (who will forever be everyones "I know a woman who" because her son is 9.5 months old and she's 31 weeks pregnant with twins) writes:

"I'm writing to ask about the changing family dynamics that will happen when we have twins within the next two months.  I'm currently 31 weeks along, so they may be here as soon as five weeks from now!  I guess I'm looking for some general advice and tips for parenting multiples, and parenting a very young child (as I said, he's 9.5 months) who will no longer be an only child.  What might we anticipate?  What are some useful tips/ hacks for caring for three babies, one of whom is older and has different needs, maybe from some of your readers who've also been there?  I realize this is very open-ended.  I already know that we'll have to do things very differently than we did with our first. For instance, we co-slept with him and to some extent still do and won't do this with the twins.  Any sanity preserving advice would be most welcome. :) "

Parents of multiples, please jump in and tell her what she needs to know. Also, parents of children spaced very closely, your advice will fit here perfectly, too.

All I've got is that she needs to read Siblings Without Rivalry, because the concepts in it are extremely useful for helping you frame the way you encourage your kids to interact with each other. And if she could have some help in for a few hours a day for the first few months her life would be vastly improved.

My public service announcement is that while, statistically speaking, breastfeeding surpresses ovulation for the first 6 months postpartum if you nurse around the clock and give no supplemental feedings, that's only true across the population, not for every single woman. Even in studies with women in cultures with scarce food who nurse almost constantly throughout the day and night, there is still a small percentage of women who get pregnant in the first few months while nursing. The rates of pregnancy are much higher for women in urban settings in developing countries than in rural settings, so one could draw the conclusion that lactation-induced amenorrhea will be less effective for women in developed countries, especially in urban settings. (I'm too tired to look up all the stats--if someone else has them handy, leave them in the comments, please). So. What that means is that nursing tends to prevent pregnancy for the first 6 months, but won't necessarily prevent it for you. Take whatever you need from that.