Hi mamas, I’m Stephanie Weight Hadfield, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and mom of 4. I’m here to talk about breastfeeding twins. Enjoy!
You’re having twins. Congratulations! Lots of moms of multiples wonder if they will be able to breastfeed twins. You may be reassured to know that mothers of twins can have the same breastfeeding outcomes as the mothers of singletons. And although there may be a bit more of a learning curve– just like with every other aspect of parenting twins– the benefits of breastfeeding your babies are worth working for. I know it can seem overwhelming so I want to share some ways to make it more manageable for your life and family. Here are my top 5 tips for twin breastfeeding success:
- Learn as much as you can about normal breastfeeding before your babies are born. Lactation Link’s Breastfeeding Basics course contains an hour’s worth of valuable breastfeeding information, including what to do to encourage full milk production, how to get a deep and comfortable latch, how to know that your babies are getting enough milk, and much more. You can watch it anytime, anywhere, and rewatch as many times as you need– which is super helpful if you need a refresher after the babies are here.
- Support, support, support. Surround yourself with people who will support you in your goal of breastfeeding your babies. Think NOW about friends or family members you can turn to for help and encouragement after the babies are here, and consider joining a breastfeeding support group even before they’re born. You can get some ideas on how friends and family can be supportive in our post, 4 Ways Friends and Family Can Support a New Mom. Talk to your partner about your desire to breastfeed, and be open about what kind of support you’ll need from them. Ask around now for referrals for outpatient IBCLCs and breastfeeding-knowledgeable pediatricians, so that you’ll have solid resources for clinical breastfeeding support ready to go when you need them.
- Give your milk supply the best start possible. Research has shown that more frequent and effective milk removal in the early days is related to higher milk production at 3-4 months postpartum, and this is as true for twin moms as it is for moms of singletons. If your babies are born healthy, request skin to skin contact for the first hour or so after birth and as much as possible after that, and nurse your babies on demand.
Twins are at a higher risk for premature birth and other complications, but you don’t have to give up on your dream of breastfeeding your twins if they need special medical care. If your babies are unable to have skin to skin contact right away, plan to begin expressing your milk within the first hour after birth, or as soon after that as you can manage, and every 2-3 hours after that. Many moms find that hand expression is more effective than pumping during the first couple of days after birth. After that, a rental or hospital grade pump is the best option for mothers who are pumping for babies who aren’t yet nursing well or at all. Babies can learn to breastfeed even if they aren’t able to right away, and protecting your milk supply by pumping effectively will give them time to get the hang of things. Lactation Link’s Pumping and Milk Storage course will answer all of your pumping questions and more that you didn’t even know to ask. It’s a great investment for any mother who plans on pumping or thinks she may need to.
- Give yourself time and support to work out the logistics of your breastfeeding routine. Each baby will need to breastfeed at least 8 or more times in 24 hours, and that means that during the first month or two, or longer if you give birth prematurely, your main responsibilities will be feeding your babies, feeding yourself, and sleeping. Get or hire as much help as you can with older siblings, meals, cleaning, shopping and laundry. There is no one right routine for breastfeeding twins, so you get to work out a system that works for you. Here are some factors to consider:
-Who feeds when. Some mothers prefer to feed both babies at the same time from the very beginning. This can be a big time saver, but can be a little difficult when one or both babies need extra help at the breast. It’s ok to start out feeding one at a time until you all feel a little more experienced if that seems to work better for you. Sometimes one baby will show hunger cues when the other baby isn’t interested in nursing– but that uninterested or sleeping baby may be coaxed to change his or her mind if you keep them close by while you feed their sibling. Even after breastfeeding is well established, many mothers of twins like to let each baby have a least one solo feeding at the breast per day so that they can enjoy one-on-one bonding time with each twin.
-Who gets which breast when. Spending time on both breasts is important for your babies’ visual development, as well as equalizing breast stimulation if one baby has a stronger suck than the other. Some mothers switch babies and breasts at every feeding and other mothers find it simpler to assign each baby a particular breast for a whole day, and alternate breasts each day. Other mothers just offer whichever breast feels fullest to whichever baby seems hungriest at the moment.
- Positioning. There are a variety of options for positioning both babies at the breast at the same time. Whichever one you choose, remember that the babies should have their tummies snugged right up against your body with no gaps in between. Pillows or specialized breastfeeding cushions will help reduce the strain of supporting two little bodies at the breast.
- You can feed both babies in a laid-back position, with each one laying tummy-down on your torso, their feet pointing towards your legs. Use pillows to support your lower back and arms.
- You can hold both babies in a cradle hold so that they’re crisscrossed across your lap, their heads supported in the bends of your elbows, and their bottoms resting in your hands or lap. Pillows to support your elbows are very helpful in this position.
- You can hold one baby in a cradle hold and the other wrapped around your side in a football hold, with a pillow or cushion in your lap to support the babies.
- You can hold both babies in a football hold, with pillow supporting their bodies
I hope these tips help you feel more confident in your ability to breastfeed your twins. You can do this and we are here to help! We offer in-person breastfeeding consultations and online breastfeeding consultations (via secure video chat). We love helping moms find their confidence, especially twin mamas. What helped you have confidence breastfeeding your multiples? Share in the comments.
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Thanks for stopping by,
Stephanie Weight Hadfield, BS, IBCLC