Twins breastfeeding is a more difficult job than it may seem or sound. Taking into consideration how different, demanding, and particular babies’ feeding patterns may be, mastering the act of breastfeeding twins and higher multiples is hard work.
Visit Breastfeeding Twins section to read about most common challenges and positions. This article contains 12 best and most useful tips to improve your twins breastfeeding experience.
1. Start by breastfeeding one baby at a time
Each baby needs to learn to latch on correctly and you need time to get to know each baby’s nursing pattern and preference. Also, you may need both hands and breasts available to alternate positions. This adjustment process may take several weeks. But it is well worth it, circumstances permitting, of course.
Once both babies master nursing, start feeding them simultaneously. This will save you time. Don’t wait too long to start simultaneous twins breastfeeding. Just enough for them to learn to latch on and position.
If you wait too long, they may get used to your undivided attention and be reluctant to share it with someone else. Keep in mind, that some babies are more demanding and do not tolerate the other baby at the breast. Work with your babies to establish the best nursing routine for all of you.
2. Feed on demand
I’ve recommended that before, but it is even more important with twins or higher multiples. As most of them are born prematurely and may have low birth weight, it is vital to keep them well-nourished.
Their schedules will most likely differ at first, so some days twins breastfeeding on demand may literary mean feeding around the clock. But it is only temporary. If anything, it will also help stimulate your milk production.
If your babies were born prematurely and are staying at the hospital, talk to the doctor about pumping your colostrum or milk for them. Getting a good double-electric or hospital-grade rental pump is a good idea, even if you don’t plan on returning to work.
Pumping stimulates milk onset and production. At the same time, it will give your babies antibodies and nutrients they need. If your milk is not in yet, look for donor’s milk. Feeding your babies formula should be your last option.
If you have a girlfriend you trust who is healthy and is breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about supplementing your babies with her milk. 30-40 years ago women did that all the time. Who the baby belonged to was irrelevant, what mattered was that the baby was hungry.
4. Alternate breasts
Different babies suck differently. Twins can stimulate your breasts in various ways. Alternating positions and latching on drains your breasts well and stimulates milk production.
Let the least active and interested sibling eat first, while the supply is plentiful. If the baby is full, but there is still milk, let the hard-working twin finish it up. Both of your breasts need to be completely drained at every feeding. If there is milk left, pump or hand express. Unused milk gives your body a signal to produce less.
5. Improve let-down
If you have slow let-down, breastfeed your babies simultaneously. Double sucking speeds up the process. And vice versa, if you have an overactive let-down and it interferes with the feeding, nurse one baby at a time.
6. Do not compare babies
Each baby may have a different sucking pattern and may get full faster or eat less. If your babies are gaining weight well, and your doctor is not concerned, do not compare them and don’t think that one “underperforms”.
7. Track feedings
Many women use a tracking system to know who nursed when and how many wet and soiled diapers there were. Although not necessary, it may noticeably ease your life.
8. Night feedings
One twin may be waking up at night to nurse, the other one may sleep through the night. Once again, as long as the weight gain is going good, there is no need to compare the babies and to wake both up to feed at the same time.
9. Increase breast milk supply
If your supply is lower than your babies’ demand, feed more often and then pump right after the feeding. I know you have your hands full without it, but it is important to establish your milk supply.
If you have someone helping you at this time, ask them to take over other chores, so you could spend time with your babies and get some rest. Read more about how to increase milk supply.
10. Breastfeed and supplement
If your milk is not enough for all the babies, do not give up right away. Nurse more and pump more. If nothing works and you need to supplement, do not stop breastfeeding. Even a drop of breast milk is of high value. Make sure each baby gets the same number of breast and bottle feedings per day.
11. Get help
Do not underestimate the help you can get from a lactation specialist. If you are not going with the one provided by the hospital on your first post-delivery day, choose the one that specializes in twins breastfeeding.
Hospital-provided lactation consultants can be a tremendous help. Specifically ask them to stay for the feeding and show you different positions and how to help babies latch on. This may be the only help you will need.
12. Get involved
When I talk to moms having twins or higher multiples, I realize that these moms are even more involved with the breastfeeding community than single-baby moms. Seems paradoxical at first, since they should have absolutely no time for this, but one mom said it very accurately:
“You simply can’t go without the support and motivation from other moms in the same boat. In addition, learning from other moms who have been there done that, is invaluable.”
Sometimes it is not even the advice from an experienced mom that
is needed, but the realization that other moms are going through the same
challenges and that it is normal.
Do not let anyone mislead you that bottle-feeding twins is easier and less time-consuming.
The only advantage is that someone else can take over and feed your babies,
while you are getting some rest. But you can do it by pumping your milk and bottle-feeding it to your babies. This way they will still get the benefits of breast milk.
> Many moms report that they spend good 5-10 minutes washing the bottles, mixing the formula, warming up the water, and positioning the babies. Let alone if you have to do that while out and about. Add to it two crying babies during these 5-10 minutes and you pretty much get the picture.
Breast milk, on the other hand, is always available, and of the right temperature. If you invest time during first couple of weeks to become a pro in twins breastfeeding, you won’t even need to think about bottles.
> When we speak about breastfeeding benefits, we always mention that breast milk is free. Well, it is “twice as free” when we speak about twins breastfeeding.
> Also, breast sucking promotes correct development of the jaw, palate and correct tongue positioning, which helps with growing teeth and food chewing in the future. It is especially important for premature babies, and multiple babies are mostly born prematurely.
> Breast-sucking babies breathe correctly through their noses. Bottle-fed babies often breathe through their mouths. Developing correct breathing is especially important for babies born prematurely.
> Multiple babies are usually born smaller and often weaker. Breast milk contains all the necessary fats, nutrients and antibodies to help them thrive.
Twins breastfeeding regularly and exclusively from birth get stronger and healthier with every drop of your breast milk. You are their hero. Actually, you are my hero too for your devotion, commitment and a big loving heart!
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.