Breastfeeding can be a challenging experience in and of itself, but breastfeeding twins or multiples can make the task seem monumental. After all, you have two (or more) babies to feed, care for and support. In the beginning, learning how to nurse, balancing feeding schedules and caring for two newborns may seem overwhelming. It will take extra effort and patience, but breastfeeding your twins or multiples can be done and will be well-worth the effort.
Be Prepared Before Your Babies are Born
- Taking the time during pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding your babies will make the experience go more smoothly. Be prepared ahead of time by:
- Talking with your doctor about the possibility of your babies being born prematurely. Depending on when your little ones are born, you may not be able to nurse them immediately. You can pump until your babies are ready to leave the hospital or until they are ready to breastfeed.
- Registering for things or purchasing items to make breastfeeding twins or multiples easier. A double nursing pillow, extra bottles and a bra designed for hands-free pumping can help you breastfeed successfully.
- Arranging for an insurance-provided breast pump. Pumping will help you keep up your milk supply if you can’t nurse your babies right away and can help you build a supply for when you need to rest or get out while family and friends feed your babies.
- Setting up a “nursing station” that has a comfortable chair with a footrest, water bottles and snacks for you and plenty of receiving blankets for keeping your little ones warm and in the perfect nursing position.
- Joining an online support group for breastfeeding multiples. Getting advice from well-seasoned moms who have breastfed more than one baby can give you the support you need when things become challenging.
Tips for Breastfeeding Twins or Multiples
- Get help. Ask your family and friends for help during the first few weeks as you recover and learn how to nurse.
- Nurse your babies before they get extremely hungry. Nursing a screaming, hungry baby is difficult enough with one. Calming two hungry babies can be even more frustrating. Try nursing as soon as they start making hunger cues, such as opening and closing their mouths.
- Get situated first without the babies. Sit down in the chair or lay in bed, arrange the pillows how you need and undo your nursing bra. Ask for a family or friend to hand you the babies once you are ready.
- Try going bra-less. If maneuvering your nursing bra open is too difficult with two babies, try going bra-less under a comfy t-shirt while you are at home.
- Alternate your breasts. This can be difficult when you are a tired mom of two or more, but try to switch breasts for each baby during every nursing session. This will ensure that a baby with a stronger suck isn’t causing one breast to produce more milk than the other.
- If you have triplets. nurse two at once and then the third one after the other two are finished.
- Get some rest. Nursing two babies is double the work. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to give your babies pumped breast milk or formula from a bottle while you take a nap.
Common Concerns for Breastfeeding Twins or Multiples
Will I Produce Enough Milk for My Babies?
Your body will produce breast milk based on “supply and demand.” The more milk that your babies require, the more milk that your body will produce. Your babies will go through growth spurts where they require more milk and periods where they are drinking less. Your body will adjust to how much your little ones need to keep them nourished.
What Should I Do if I’m Not Producing Enough Milk?
Most women are able to produce enough milk for their babies. Latching problems, tongue or lip ties and not nursing often enough can decrease your milk supply. If you are having problems, reach out to a lactation consultant. Lactation consultants are trained professionals who will be able to pinpoint the reason that your body is producing less milk and help correct it. While you are getting help, use a breast pump to increase your milk supply. Pumping for five to 10 minutes on each side after nursing sessions will trigger your body to produce more milk.
What Do I Do if Both of My Babies Need to Nurse at the Same Time?
Take a deep breath, relax and nurse both of your little ones at the same time. Using the “football hold” can make nursing both babies at the same time easier. Tuck each baby under your arms close to your body, with your babies’ heads to your breast and help them to latch. Either use a twin nursing pillow or a pillow on each side to help support your babies. A twin feeding pillow can make a huge difference. Rolled up receiving blankets can help keep your little ones in the perfect nursing position.
Establishing a Nursing Schedule
During the first few weeks, your babies will need to nurse eight to 12 times each day, with each session taking 30 to 45 minutes. In the beginning, try nursing your twins on the same schedule and at the same time, if possible. This will help save you time and help you get rest at night.
If it doesn’t work for you to nurse your babies on a schedule, try feeding them “on demand.” Keep records to ensure that each baby is eating at least every two to three hours, has at least six to eight wet diapers a day and at least one bowel movement a day. Nursing “on demand” can be more time consuming, but it can help you better tune into your baby’s needs.
The best thing you can do for your babies is to do what’s best for you. This may mean feeding one baby a bottle of pumped milk, while you nurse the other baby and switching at the next feeding. Or it may mean spending the day nursing in bed while you are learning. Try to relax and enjoy the experience as you and your babies learn how to breastfeed and bond with one another.