Tips and Advice on Breastfeeding Twins, From A Mom Who's Done It
Breastfeeding Newborn Twins
Breastfeeding twins exclusively, albeit challenging, is completely possible. I know because I've done it! The milk supply of a mother is established by the law of supply and demand. So the more nursing that occurs, the more milk a mother's body will produce. This is the case with any woman who is nursing, and it doesn't change when a mother has multiple children.
If a woman isn't producing enough milk, there are things she can do to promote more milk production. She can nurse more frequently, for longer periods or pump after nursing. Sometimes, especially early on, the babies won't empty all of the milk in the breast that has been produced, pumping the remainder out once the babies are finished, and continuing to pump for a few minutes longer, will encourage the body to make even more milk.
Perhaps you won't be able to exclusively breastfeed your twins. That's ok, too. Sometimes when twins are preemies, their doctor will prescribe a special infant formula just for preemies to supplement their breastfeeding. Formula for preemies contain more vitamins, minerals, protein and calories than formula for full-term babies.
I remember having difficulties getting my milk to come in after having my twins. They were born early, which is common with twins, and had to go to the NICU (Neo Intensive Care Unit) for a couple of weeks.
A mother of twins, who plans on breastfeeding, will want to have access to a breast pump. Not just any run of the mill pump either, you will want a hospital grade breast pump available to you. They are pretty pricey, but well worth every dollar, especially if you intend to have additional children in the future.
I used the Medela Lactina Select hospital grade pump, and it did the trick. I can proudly say I successfully breastfed my twins for a full 26 months. For those who can't afford the expense of a hospital grade pump, talk to the lactation consultant at your hospital. Most hospitals will let you rent one from them for a reasonable price.
I breastfed my twins for 26 months and this is the pump I used.
Getting Your Milk to Come In
If your twins are whisked away to NICU, as mine were, you will want to begin pumping immediately. I recall only being able to produce mere drops at a time at first. The nurses would all tell me even one drop of colostrum was better than no breast milk. They called it liquid gold and said it was like medicine for my babies. That is what determined me to continue pumping even though, there were times, I felt discouraged; I felt like giving up.
I pumped around the clock every two hours. After 3 days my milk finally came in. I would pump and take milk to my babies every day. Pumping was still necessary for a while after they got to go home with me so that I could get a good supply of milk production established . Even after I was certain I was making more than enough milk, I still pumped after their feedings so I'd be able to store some milk in the freezer. Having some breastmilk stashed away allows others to be able to share in being able to feed the babies too.
Other than pumping, you will want to have as much skin to skin contact with your babies as possible. It's called Kangaroo care and is especially beneficial for preemies. Spending time being close to your babies helps your body make milk and can even increase your milk supply. When your twins nuzzle your breasts, your hypothalamus, lets your body know to make milk. Skin to skin contact also helps your babies be healthier. They can depend upon your body to help keep their body temperatures regulated. This is also a good way to practice tummy-time to avoid flat head syndrome. Simply lay one or both twins on their tummies across your chest with a blanket over their backs.
Increasing Your Milk Supply
There are things you can do besides pumping to increase your milk supply. Being dehydrated can decrease your milk supply, so make sure to drink lots of water and always have some nearby where you're nursing. Make sure to get as much rest as you can. Make sure you're eating healthy and getting plenty of calories. It takes 1000 extra calories a day to make enough milk to feed twins. Here are a few galactagogues (foods that increase breastmilk):
- Sesame Seeds
Herbs/Supplements That Increase Breast Milk
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Goats Rue
Do you plan to breastfeed twins?
Things That Can Help Make Breastfeeding Twins Easier
Having a comfortable, quiet place to breastfeed is helpful. My favorite place in the beginning was in bed. Make sure you have everything you need within reach. You'll want to make sure you always have water available so you can stay hydrated. Any magazines, books, paper and pen; a small bag with a change of clothes for your twins, diapers, wipes and ointment, and your phone should all be where you can reach them if needed or wanted. Oh and pillows. Lots and lots of pillows.
Finding a preferred breastfeeding position makes breastfeeding twins easier. At first I chose to breastfeed my twins individually in the cradle position. I would feed whichever was the fussier of the two first, burp them, change them, swaddle in a blanket and lay them down near me on the bed. Then I would do the same with the second one with the only difference being nursing them on the other breast. As the first few days went by, it seemed I was spending an extensive amount of time -most all of my time- nursing babies. That's when I began tandem nursing in the double cradle hold position.
This is rather difficult to do when your little ones aren't yet able to hold their heads up on their own and you only have two hands. Imagine, you have newborn twins both crying to be fed. You reach down and pick up one hungry baby, get that one latched on in the cradle position. Now you have one hand free and a second infant you need to pick up and get latched on to your other breast. It's a next-to-impossible challenge to pick a newborn up with one hand, let alone do it whilst nursing another one. That is the reason why I chose a special pillow that made this important task and life in general sooooo much easier.
There is a special pillow designed to help nurse twins. I was able to easily nurse both twins simultaneously using this pillow, the TwinZ pillow was AMAZING. I gained a great deal of time each day by being able to nurse the twins at the same time. By nursing at the same time, they also slept at the same time, leaving me actual time to do other things... like shower. While using the pillow when nursing, I had my hands free, which was a nice thing too. Not only that, but we were no longer constrained to the bedroom. I could easily use this pillow virtually anywhere in the house I wanted.