Breastfeeding can be an intensely intimate and snugly experience for moms. It could be an overwhelming moment for mothers while they are nursing their babies as they rock in a glider with a serenating song playing in the background.
But then the thought of twins can be rather terrifying. Breastfeeding twins sounds like a pretty difficult task to accomplish and all the above mentioned peace and calm seems to be fading away from the mother’s imagination. They tend to get worried about the fact that how will the manage breastfeeding twins? If moms of a single infant claim that they have become nothing but dairy cows, what would become of mothers with twins?
To be honest, breastfeeding twins can be made easier with the help of some preparation and practice. Here is some basic yet handy information about breastfeeding twins.
Before your twins arrive, we suggest you to get to know the fundamentals of breastfeeding by reading from the book titled Mothering Multiples. It will keep you in good stead as you get ready for nursing multiple babies. As a matter of fact, it is one of the best books around for pregnant moms who are expecting twins.
If these babies are your first ones, then we recommend you to visit your hospital for a breastfeeding class. If they teach you a thing or two about breastfeeding multiple babies simultaneously, it will be awesome. You can always get the cost covered by your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Even if you have breastfed your singleton before, we would still suggest you take up this class since breastfeeding twins simultaneously is an entirely different thing.
As a matter of fact, a number of experienced mothers and fathers tend to participate in these classes at their hospitals and they all get to learn plenty of new informative stuff. They are made to tandem-feed dolls which might seem a bit strange at first but it does go a long way in preparing you for the real ordeal.
It is true that women of the pre-historic age did not have the luxury of all the comfortable equipment and still were able to bring up their babies fine. But with some decent gear, you will stay nice and relaxed while nursing which is the most important thing when it comes to breastfeed twins.
You should get your hands on a twin nursing pillow. Twin Z Nursing Pillow is our favorite but here are some other options that you can look into as well.
Even if you are thinking to feed your twins right from the breast, keep in mind that you will still be needing a breast pump to ensure that your milk supply is well-established and you are able to stock up for later use.
Mothers suggest that morning is the best time to pump milk when the supply is at its best. You may go for the hospital pump, a personal pump or a combination of both. Here is some valuable information about pumping milk for twins.
Now, that we have gotten our hands on all the required gear for breastfeed twins, let us not waste any time and discuss lactation consultants.
Lactation consultants are covered by your medical insurance and are great in ensuring that mothers are able to breastfeed their babies successfully.
According to the Affordable Care Act, the insurance needs to cover comprehensive lactation support and counseling by a trained provider during pregnancy or postpartum period and costs for renting breastfeeding gear.
The help and assistance that lactation consultants can provide in the initial few days of postpartum can be very handy.
You should have the process initiated at the right time during your pregnancy days since it can take some time to discover the right lactation consultant for you who is covered by your insurance policy. More often than not, lactation consultants do not collaborate directly with insurance companies since they expect their clients to carry out all the documentation themselves.
Insurance companies are slow to change so you may get into some sort of trouble. But staying steadfast and resilient at this stage is mandatory.
In an ideal scenario, the lactation consultant should have been chosen by the time your twins are born. It will be one less thing that will worry you after giving birth since you will certainly not be getting plenty of time to carry out research for your lactation consultant once your bundles of joy are out there on your laps.
Most of the lactation consultants tend to pay a visit to their client’s home. It is fantastic that they are able to observe you in your actual lifestyle. During his or her visit, the lactation expert tends to help the mothers with the positioning of babies while feeding, respond to your queries and weigh up your babies before and after the supervised feeds to determine how much food the babies are taking.
This home visit can be really precious in the initial few days of your breastfeed twins so you better not forget it or overlook it at any cost.
A local La Leche League can also provide valuable support during the different stages of nursing. Monthly meetings are held by the local chapters while they also respond to queries put up by moms through email. In addition, most of the hospitals and birthing centers have a nursing support group that holds meetings regularly. If you are able to attend these meetups, it could be quite beneficial. You may ask around people in your social sphere and you will get to know a lot of things that you never knew.
How to get started?
Inform your doctors, nurses and NICU team that you intend to breastfeed. It can be quite exasperating to have new mothers wanting to breastfeed twins but not provided with the requisite support and gear to carry it out successfully. This is not all that frequent but such a situation is still prevalent in parts of the country that are not as advanced as some of the others.
Here is some insight on how to prepare for nursing. Here you will come to know how to take care of your nipples and an overview of the entire process and gear required. As is the case with a number of other things, nursing twins can be quite a different thing as well.
Small and premature babies can have some other problems with nursing such as the fact that the suck and swallow reflex does not develop until about 36 weeks. So, if your twins are born before the 36 months period, it could be a bit of an obstacle to deal with while breastfeeding twins.
Having said that, mother milk is of prime significance for premature infants since the mother’s body produces milk exactly in accordance with the needs of the baby. If your twins are not able to feed directly from your breasts or the suck and swallow mechanism has not developed as yet, then make use of pumping. You can establish a decent supply of milk by using the powerful pumps available at the pump. Pumps can be driven into each postpartum room and NICUs have them placed in each room so you can pump while visiting your baby.
It cannot be overemphasized that establishing a mother’s supply is the most important thing after twins are born. Premature infants can be so hard to deal with and when they are in NICU, mothers tend to lose sight of their breastfeeding goals owing to anxiety. So, establishing their supply is so much important for them if they want to nurse them in the future. If you are not able to establish your supply at the important juncture in time, then you will have to battle hard to get hold of the lost space.
If you are able to establish a good supply, it will keep you in good stead regardless of all the other obstacles that might come in to block your road to success. Establishing a good supply is almost nearing the finish line.
Nonetheless, the pressure of breastfeeding twins should not overpower you in any sense of the word. If your infants are unhealthy and even if they are healthy, there is so much stuff to take care of and at the same time, you also have to take care of your own needs. So, if you are unable to nurse your infants in all this kerfuffle, it is comprehendible.
You can opt for pumping and bottle feeding if your babies are too small to be fed from the breasts. This will have to be accomplished by pumping at least 8 to 10 times in a day. This is quite a massive frequency, to be honest. When it comes to underweight or premature babies, the ultimate goal is to put weight on them as quickly as possible so that they can make way to their homes from the hospital.
In the initial days, if you are not able to nurse your babies, then you should opt to pump and give them your breastmilk with a bottle. Bottles are provided by the medical staff officiating at the hospital or the NICU. You should not be perturbed about nipple confusion since numerous babies transition smoothly from breast to bottle and to be honest, there are a lot more complex tasks to tackle than this.
The pace feeding method should be chosen to avoid over feeding when feeding your breastmilk with the bottle to the twins. This approach imitates nursing by slowing down the process since milk from bottles can trickle down too fast for the baby’s liking. It ensures that the baby gets the appropriate amount of milk.
Keep in mind that formula-fed infants tend to eat twice as more than the breastfed babies since it is hard to digest. So, do not be anxious about the fact that you are producing lesser breastmilk in comparison with the formula intake since it is by no means a valid comparison.
Here is an informative handout for daycare or grandparents who are assisting in bottle feeding to help them in the feeding process.
Practice Nursing from the Breast
As the famous adage goes, “practice makes a man (women should be substituted in this case) perfect”. When your twins are strong enough to be breastfed, they will need to be trained to get accustomed to this new technique of being fed. NICUs all across the country hold practice nursing sessions when the babies are not hungry since you should not attempt anything when they have an urge to eat.
Moreover, before the practice session, you should ensure that your breasts are not full so the time shortly after pumping is an appropriate time. A strong let-down can easily overpower or frighten the twins.
You should not be scared to supplement breastfeeding twins for formula if you need to. You need to ensure that your babies are well-fed and you should be anxious about squeezing out every last drop. So, you should do whatever is useful in your case and if it means using the formula milk, even that is the best choice.
More often than not, babies in the NICU require supplementation. There are a number of NICUs that are offering donor breast milk which can be used to supplement your own milk. The use of donor breastmilk is encouraged by American Academy of Pediatricians as and when required.
Nipple shields can be a handy tool when premature infants are having issues with latching since they help achieve a proper latch. The milk tends to collect in the shield; thereby providing the baby with instant milk if they take a break.
Nipple shields are used in transitioning the baby from bottle to the breast. However, keep in mind that nipple shields are only a temporary recourse that is meant to help babies learn to latch on to your breast. You should get rid of it as soon as you feel that you are ready for it.
The nipple shield can be purchased typically from the Lactation Consultant but you will have to pay premium for it. They are available for sale on Amazon. Also ensure that you get the nipple shield and not the nipple shell which is used to protect sore nipples from rough clothing. A carrying case is also required so you can easily throw them in the diaper bag.
The supplemental nursing system is another compatible alternative to bottle feeding. This technique tends to assist the baby get acquainted with nursing even when he is not able to be nursed appropriately. However, it is definitely not the easiest of alternatives to breastfeeding twins. You can consult your lactation consultant in this regard for the best advice.
Here some other resources for feeding premature infants.
The added advantage of having a baby who has to stay for a prolonged period of time at the hospital is that he comes home with a great routine.
A healthy routine is essential for twins. It is imperative that you stick to the feeding routine handed down to you by the doctor or the lactation consultant. Of course you can adjust the sleep routine accordingly. It is judicious that you stick to the routine that your baby was accustomed to at the hospital.
When breastfeeding twins, if one baby is asleep while the other is awake, you should make the snoozing baby get up so that they can eat together. You should not allow any incompatible routines to get developed since that will never let you sleep. Routines will help you get the much needed rest so you should do the diaper change and feed them together.
Here is an exception: in the beginning, we suggest you that you breastfeed twins one at a time. This will let you focus on getting the appropriate latch and ensures that the baby is in the right position. You can cuddle with the non-feeding baby on the other side while you feed the other baby or you can put them on the rocker or bouncer. Tandem nursing is the next advanced stage that you can begin once you get better at one-on-one feeding.
Keep in mind that tandem nursing can save you plenty of time but it is not at all mandatory. Do not be obsessed with the idea that you have to get on with tandem nursing immediately after your twins are born or that if there has been some delay, the chance is no more there.
You should pursue it only once you and your bundles of joy are ready for it and you get attracted to the idea of breastfeeding twins at the same time.
When it comes to tandem nursing, you can go for a range of different positions. The most popular and recommended position for premature infants is the double clutch or football hold. If possible, you might ask someone to help you out in the first few instances. In addition, a tandem nursing pillow will ensure that the babies are aptly positioned and you can use both your hands.
It requires some shrewdness on your part to latch your babies with a nursing pillow. So, some help would be very useful here.
It takes some time to get all the stuff including the babies in the right positions and you might be a bit confused in the beginning. Then the next day, it will all seem rather too easy for you and you would start to wonder whether you could even survive without tandem feeding.
Once the babies get acquainted to this position, you can go onto try out other positions. The recline or supine feeding position is a great one for early morning feedings. You can take some support at your back with the help of pillows, have each baby straddle a thigh and then you can recline backwards while the babies hug you as you nurse them. This can be very handy in a large sized bed with some pillows at your side to provide support to your arms. This can be a nice compatible alternative to tandem side laying.
If you want to become an exclusive pumper, be rest assured that you can accomplish it. Yes, pumping can be mentally taxing, so a positive attitude at your end and the support of your family are important.
Typically, we would suggest you to pump milk for no more than 20 minutes in a single session. A number of mothers tend to go for a prolonged morning session when the milk supply is well-established.
The paced feeding method is very crucial for the caregivers to comprehend so that they do not end up wasting the precious white gold. If you intend to have your milk supply boosted, then you might as well try out a galactagogue such as Mother’s Milk supplements and try to drink as much water as possible.
So, your pumping routine is likely to be in accordance with your baby’s eating routine which is about once every three hours. Try to stay calm during your pumping sessions, with the babies cuddled in your lap or even looking at their pictures will get your hormones rushing through; particularly during the letdown. You can even get some sleep during the session. However, ensure that you have a hands-free bra and pumping pal shields to accomplish this.
Here is more information about pumping here and pumping for twins.
The ideal approach to breastfeeding twins is to rotate them on each breast to ensure that the milk supply is equally distributed. If one baby tends to suck harder than the other, then you might as well end up with lopsided boobs. There are a few different techniques that you can use to rotate breasts.
A certain baby can be assigned to the right side on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday or you may switch every feeding. A nursing bracelet can help you keep track of this schedule if you are marred by poor memory and deprived of some precious sleep.
You can assign a nursing bracelet to one of the babies and switch it to the other side regularly to remember which side each of the twins is on. Any bracelet that is easy to put on and take off can be useful in this case. You might as well go for a rubber band or hair elastic.
You can put on a variety of teething toy bracelets and also let the babies chew on. You can go for the standard bracelets and you can find the one that matches your apparel. Bracelets designed by Costa Rican artisans are sold by Pura Vida. They have a charity section that gives a small amount of proceeds to the various causes.
Your breasts need to be easily accessible during the initial few months. The important thing for breastfeeding twins is that you ought to expose both the breasts at the same time. So, side-pull nursing wardrobe won’t be handy in this case. Clip down bras, tops and apparel can be helpful here.
Wire-free bras are suggested for nursing mothers to avoid clogged ducts. Bravado is the most popular product available. Here is our comprehensive nursing bra guide.
When you do not want to wear a bra, you can go for the nursing tanks at home. H&M’s Nursing tanks can be quite handy along with Undercover Mama tanks that clip onto your nursing bra. It is decent for postpartum tummy coverage and also helps out breastfeeding twins.
Also, remember that sleep bras are not that practical so better put on a tank and PJ pants for bed or a nursing nightgown. Here is our in-depth guide on nursing gear.