Breastfeeding Twins. It sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Daunting? Exciting? A fun challenge?
|Photo via Everparent.com|
Yes, it is pretty much all of those.
Breastfeeding twins is a lot like breastfeeding one baby, except there are two. So for every 20 minutes you spend nursing one, you spend another 20 minutes nursing the other. If they go 2 hours between feedings like the average breastfed newborn, your schedule looks like this:
8 a.m. Diaper change, clothes change, etc. (Baby A)
8:15 a.m. Nurse (Baby A)
8:35 a.m. Diaper change, clothes change, etc (Baby B)
8:50 a.m. Nurse (Baby B)
9:10 a.m. Pump
9:20 a.m. Maybe time for your breakfast? A quick shower? “Sleep when baby sleeps”? Just don’t get too comfortable because before you know it, it’s…
That’s right 10 a.m. Baby A again
It is physically exhausting for very obvious reasons. If there was ever a time to make sure you drink enough water, eat a ton of healthy and balanced calories and keep up with your vitamins, this is it! It’s emotionally exhausting because once you are lacking in sleep, the rest of your body has no problem wanting to shut down but you simply cannot. (This feeling will happen whether you nurse or bottle feed, breast milk or formula. It’s a newborn thing regardless, worsened by having two newborns.)
So now that I painted that lovely picture for you, you are wondering why on Earth anyone would breastfeed, let alone breastfeed twins. Well, because it’s amazing. Because it’s beautiful. And because once you are doing it, it doesn’t feel quite as bad as you would imagine.
Still wanting to breastfeed your twins, right? Okay, here are my best pieces of advice:
1. They share your breasts (duh!) so you have to decide what method you’ll use to be sure they both get milk. I personally give one boob to each baby then switch at the next feeding. Others offer both boobs to each baby. There is not a right way to do it. It just takes some getting used to. Ideally, just pick a method and stick to it. The sooner you establish and pattern and method, the sooner your body will make the milk needed for each feeding. Either way, your body does know that two babies came out of you and it will make enough milk for both (as long as other obstacles do not get in the way.)
2. It is possible to tandem nurse them. There are a few different ways this term is used. I am not talking about simply nursing more than one baby/child; I am talking about nursing them both in the same sitting. To do this, you will need a good nursing pillow; in fact you will need a twin specific very large nursing pillow. It takes a bit of practice (and some juggling skills) but it’s not that bad once you get used to it. (I faced some personal obstacles that made it impractical to make this a habit but I will share with you the tips other twin moms gave me.)
Set your space up comfortably on a bed or couch. Lay a baby on either side of you. Once positioned in the middle of them, get your pillow(s) into place making sure you have good back support and everything you need is in reach (burp cloths, the TV remote, your phone, etc.) Get both breasts exposed and ready. Pick up the first baby and latch her in the football hold. Once connected, scoop up the second baby doing a football hold on that side as well. The babies’ heads should meet in the middle with their feet wrapping towards your back.
3. It’s not a complete necessity, but I would also recommend an easy way to track how much each baby eats. They make fun colored bracelets or rings that you can switch back and forth to know which side each baby should be nursing on. They make a timer called the itzBeen where you can click just one button to start. It then tracks how long it’s been since baby started eating. (For twins you can get two of them and assign a color to each child.) There are also a variety of apps available for moms and dads with smartphones. I personally use Baby Connect on my iPhone.
4. If possible, find a support team, whether it’s someone you know personally or friends you meet online, connecting with other twin moms is definitely a big deal. Specially, finding other twin moms that are nursing while you are learning the ropes as well will be a huge help to you.
Be prepared for a lot of questions from those around you. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand why someone would nurse twins. I recently wrote a post for another blog about this.
Stay open-minded, get help as soon as you notice an issue and don’t give up. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and breastfeeding twins can be amazing. I am more than happy to talk to anyone more personally about my experience if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or e-mail me at email@example.com.