Breastfeeding your Twins
Congratulations, your new arrivals are here and you’re considering breastfeeding. Breastfeeding twins understandably takes lots of determination and you may find it difficult initially. However there is no reason why you can’t successfully breastfeed. You just have to believe in yourself and pull on every ounce of support and help you can find.
Planning ahead and getting plenty of support from family and friends will really help in the earl days. Talk to your midwife and health visitor about breastfeeding and find out what breastfeeding support groups there are nearby, explore options for talking to other parents in your local area who have also successfully breastfed twins.
Breastfeeding twins takes about the same amount of time as it does to bottlefeed a baby, bottle feeding may actually take longer than breastfeeding as you will have to wash and sterilize bottles, make up formula and leave it to cool for a period of time. When breastfeeding twins you can feed both at the same time, whilst you are in hospital ask your midwife or a maternity care assistant to help you get into a suitable position to feed both babies at the same time, this will be good practice for when the time comes. However you may find it easier initially to breastfeed them separately until you have got the hand of everything. Feeding your babies separately is easier as you have the use of both of your hands to ensure your baby is positioned and attached well at the breast. You will also have a hand free to take a quick drink during the feed if needed. Feeding singly is also easier when out and about, regardless of whether you feed both babies at together or individually you may initially feel uncomfortable when feeding in public. Don’t worry this is a common concern of most new mothers. To preserve your modesty use something like the Breastvest which will enable you to lift your top to feed whilst covering your lower half.
Once you have grasped the techniques of positioning and attachment, you most likely go on and feed both twins simultaneously you will save time and this will allow you to get more sleep and rest. Feeding both babies at the same time will allow you to comfort and calm both your babies.
Top tips for simultaneous breastfeeding:
- Use cushions and pillow to support both you and your babies. A V-shaped pillow works well around the front of your body.
- Use the pillow to vary your feeding positions.
- Choose the best method to suit all of you.
- Alternate breasts when feeding, each baby will feed in a different way and alternating the breasts allows milk production to be maintained in both your breasts.
- If you find it hard to keep on track of which breast was last, try alternating every 24 hours.
To ensure you have a good milk supply you will need to be breastfeeding your babies often. Feeding babies on demand when they show signs of hunger will mean a quicker, deeper feed. However feeding on demand may make you feel like you constantly have a baby at your breast, particularly is you are feeding separately. You may find it useful to allow the hungrier baby to dictate feeding time, feed this baby first and then gently wake your other baby. Many parents of twins will feed on demand initially and then gradually introduce a routine as their babies get older.
Many mothers of twins worry about producing enough milk for two babies, if you breastfeed each time your baby is hungry your body will make enough milk. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process. The more you feed, the more will be made. Signs that your baby is receiving enough milk include good weight gain, 6-8 wet nappies each day, 2-3 dirty nappies and your baby should be a good colour and generally alert. If you are worried ask your midwife or health visitor for further help. Another common concern is developing sore nipples from feeding twins. Nipples soreness is caused by your babies nor being latched on well. If you do become sore ask your midwife or health visitor to watch a feed and check your positioning and attachment. If your nipples do become sore try applying purified lanolin to your nipples after each feed. This will help to prevent any sore areas from forming scabs and aid in healing.
It will be important to ensure you have a support team in place before your babies are born. Allocate chores to family, friends and neighbours and don’t be afraid to ask for their help. If you find yourself needing additional guidance and support contact The Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) who have a network of local support groups. The Multiple Births Foundation also provide free leaflets and publications.