When you find out your pregnant, first thoughts are, how will I feed my baby? Will I breastfeed?
If you find out you’re having twins, then deciding that to breastfeed twins is the best thing to do is a very big step. But if you do, it’s one of the most rewarding things you will do for you and your babies.
Many of my twin mums have indeed breastfed their babies for a few weeks or a few months, but it’s their decision as to how they choose to feed their babies and for how long. Any length of time Breastfeeding twins is good so go with what feels right for you.
If you decide that breastfeeding twins is not for you then do not feel guilty about this fact. Breast feeding twins is a huge decision to make and your decision should be accepted by your friends and family.
If you do decide to give it a go then this page is aimed at covering the practical points of Breastfeeding twins and its benefits for you and your babies.
Is Breastfeeding twins more demanding?
1) Breastfeeding twins is more demanding physically on your body than bottle feeding but if you eat, drink, and rest as much as possible then the recovery period after birth is often not much longer than it would be for a single baby.
2) As with all breastfeeding mums, breastfeeding will help your body to get back into shape faster after birth.
3) Breastfeeding twins does mean that you don’t spend long periods of time each day washing and sterilising bottles, this is time you can use to rest instead.
4) Breastfeeding twins is also much cheaper than bottle feeding and will save you many dollars over the time you spend feeding them yourself.
5) Breastfeeding twins does mean you are the main food provider and some mums of multiples get a little stressed by this fact.
Breastfeeding twins Can I make enough milk for two?
Yes you can is the simple answer.
Breastfeeding twins is a wonderful thing and whether your feeding one, two, or three babies your body will adapt and make enough milk to feed your babies. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis so the more you ask your body to make by putting your babies to the breast the more your body should make.
You can help your body with this process by eating, drinking, and resting as much as possible. Your body is going to need an extra 1000 calories a day if your exclusively Breastfeeding twins so keep plenty of healthy snacks about and drink plenty of water as well as having 3 proper meals a day. All this will help to make plenty of milk for both your babies.
When Breastfeeding twins you will find you may have one baby that latches better and has a stronger sucking action than the other so it’s a good idea to alternate the breast your babies feed from at each feed. This allows the baby with the stronger suck to help stimulate your milk production and let down reflex at each breast every other feed.
Some of my mums find it hard to remember which twin fed from which breast last so it’s often a good idea to keep a log or you can just alternate each day. I do encourage my mums to swap babies sides after each feed as I find this helps with a more even milk flow from both breasts and lessens the possible chances of developing mastitis or block milk ducts. You can learn more about these conditions here.
If you do find your body is struggling to make enough milk for your two babies then please take a look here at my breastfeeding problems pages as to how you can increase your milk production.
As you are always having to stimulate both sides at each feed it’s often not the amount of stimulation you are getting but more your babies’ latch or how much food, drink and rest you are getting that is the issue if you find you have a low supply. You can get more information on how to improve your babies’ latch here.
Breastfeeding twins How to feed twins together.
Feeding even a single baby can take an hour at each feed and there may be as many as 8 to 10 feeds a day in the very beginning so Breastfeeding twins together is a huge help and does save time but it is a skill that has to be learnt by you all and so to begin with you may choose to feed your babies one after the other.
Breastfeeding twins one after the other
If you have help you can start by feeding one while another person wakes the other twin. Then when the first twin has fed you can swap over and feed the second twin from your other breast while the first is being winded and their nappy changed.
If you do have a good flow of milk it may be helpful to lessen wind in your babies by letting the first twin have 10 to 15 minutes at the breast then swapping then over and letting the second twin have 10 to 15 minutes at the other breast while the first twin is winded and nappy changed. You can then offer the first twin the breast again while the winding and nappy changing is taking place of the second twin, then offer the breast again to the second twin when the final winding is taking place of the first twin then wind the second twin when they finish feeding.
There is quite a lot of picking up and putting down when it comes to Breastfeeding twins and winding two babies but once you get the hang of it and find your own ways of dealing with both babies together then its not as daunting as you would think.
If your having to feed your babies on your own then to begin with I would wake, feed, wind, change and pop into a bouncy chair the first baby then do the same for the second. This will take much longer in the beginning but will make feed times calmer as you wont have one baby crying for food while the other is being fed.
Breastfeeding twins together
Once you get a little more confidence with Breastfeeding twins it may be worth tandem breastfeeding so that you cut down on a little time and they stay much more together in their routine.
You will need a very good twins feeding pillow for this to be comfortable for you and your babies and lessen the stress on your back, neck and arms.
Often the trickiest part of tandem breastfeeding twins is the latching on but once you have spent a few days or weeks single feeding then this skill should have been practised enough by you all so that latching both on to feed together is made as easy as possible.
Its wise to have very good bouncy chairs at hand that help to keep the babies upright enough after a feed and allows you to have a safe spot for them while you are changing or finishing feeding the other twin. Being upright also helps to keep all that precious breast milk in their tummy and lowers the chances of baby vomit. If your worried about how much baby vomit is normal then take a look at my baby vomit page by clicking here.
How long will it take to Breastfeeding twins
Now if you are a lucky mum that makes plenty of milk and has a quick let down and you have two babies that latch and feed well then each feed will take about 1 hour. This time should also shorten in length as your milk comes in and you all perfect your new skill. This time also takes into account winding and changing both babies.
Some babies find it tricky to latch and if this is the case then it may add an extra 10 minutes to your feed time. In the early days its best not to time your feeds and allow your babies to suckle as this will stimulate your milk production and increase milk flow.
Bottle feeding twins is also an art to master and again it may be the case that you need to feed one and then the other until you have both got a little better at the whole feeding technique.
Like Breastfeeding twins it will also take up to an hour to feed your babies by bottle so the time to feed whether breast or bottle is about the same.
Even I find bottle feeding twins together a bit of a juggle if one or both are being tricky on that day.
Again it’s best to bottle feed twins in bouncy chairs or on each side of your lap facing out but it’s also what works best for you and how big your twins are and what position is best for them. I have also used special baby bean bags to pop each baby in too feed.
Feeding and winding twins.
I often find that its not the feeding of two babies that is tricky but the winding of two tiny tummies that is the juggle when feeding both together.
If you have both babies that are not fussing and feeding nicely then its actually a lovely calm moment and great to listen to two tiny people chomping away and feeding and swallowing well.
It’s the winding technique that needs perfecting and does depend on how big your babies are as to whether you can drape both over one arm to tandem wind or have to wind separately and have one in a bouncy chair while you burp and change one baby before you swap.
Whether bottle or breast feeding your twins I think it’s worth saying that you will have some great feeds that go really well and you will also have some not so good feeds that seem to take ages and can be quite stressful. DO NOT WORRY. It’s all perfectly normal to have good days and bad, even with a single baby and having winded at least 75 tummies many times, I still have days where some feeds just do not go very well and are quite a struggle.
How will you feel about Breastfeeding twins
It can be quite daunting when you find out your going to be caring for two babies. There are going to be two lots of everything to do, two mouths to feed and you only have one pair of hands!
Do not worry, even a new mum to a singleton worries about how they will cope.
You have to be realistic and especially for the first few weeks don’t worry if the house hasn’t been hovered or there are a few more dishes in the sink than normal.
Be prepared for a few tears along the way as well when Breastfeeding twins
Your hormones are going to have a little life of their own at the beginning and mixed in with feeling tired often means that the tears will flow. This is in fact a good thing. And I am glad to see my mums have a good cry every now and again.
Your not super human and it’s healthy to let these feelings flow out instead of bottling them up and pretending to be fine, when in fact you may be feeling overwhelmed by the new changes and life that these two new people have created.
There are many twins groups and organisations that are there to offer help and support and it’s always good to know that other twins mums are also finding it a juggle.
1) TAMBA is the twins and multiple births association and they have many groups about, check for a local group near you on line
2) The Multiple Births foundation is also on line and give out practical helpful advise through leaflets and publications
3) Local twins groups in your area are a great way to meet new people who understand what life is like and can also offer much needed help and support.
4) Having a good old moan to your mum, partner or best friend is also a great help and they will be happy to listen and may even offer to take the babies out for a walk while you get in some sleep or take a shower.
Breastfeeding twins Mixed feeding.
Some of my twins mums decided that they would like to give their babies some breast milk but where also very aware that there where two people to feed and put themselves under no pressure to go it alone and decided that mixed feeding was the perfect solution for them.
There are many different ways of mixed feeding and all are perfectly right to do. Again it’s what works best for you all.
1) You can breastfeed for so many feeds and put the odd formula feed in when you would like too.
2) You can alternate breastfeeding and bottle feeding. So that every other feed is breast and every other feed is a bottle.
3) You can express your milk so that they are always bottle fed but some feeds are breast milk and some are formula.
4) As long as it’s mixed correctly you can give a mixed feed of breast milk and formula. For example a 4oz feed contains 2oz breast milk and 2oz formula. Always make the formula first and then add the breast milk.
Any of these suggestions for mixed feeding are OK and again you have to go with what feels right for you and your family.
Breastfeeding twins in special care.
If your twins have to spend some time in special care there is no reason why you cannot breastfeed.
Tell your midwife that you intend to breastfeed and they will get you to begin expressing your milk. If you pump at least 8 times a day you will be matching your babies feeding demands and your body will begin to make the milk that they need.
Many mums of premature twins say that they felt quite helpless and frustrated at not being able to feed and hold their babies. Pumping milk for your babies is a very positive thing to do to get you through those tricky days and gives you a sense that you are doing all you can for them.
Breastfeeding twins in public.
The easiest way to feed your twins while you are out is to feed one after the other. You may find it tricky to latch both on together and without the help of your breastfeeding pillow, keeping them both in the correct feeding position is also very hard. Exposing almost all of your front is something that most mums do not wish to do while out either.
Another suggestion is to pump your milk for the next feed before you head out and bottle feed them the expressed milk, this does mean though that you have to wait just a bit for your body to have made enough milk again before you pump.
Breastfeeding twins 10 helpful hints from my mums.
I’ve asked my twins mums what they thought where the top 10 helpful tips to make life easier for a twins mum in the early days and beyond. They said:
When Breastfeeding twins
1) Get as many pairs of hands as possible to help you especially at feed times. Ask family and friends if they could come for a few hours to help out. If your lucky they may even bring food all ready cooked for evening meals!
2) Get a routine in place. Once you have got through the first few days of breastfeeding and fed more on demand but at least every 3 hours then starting a routine will help you feel more in control and you will be able to plan your day more.
3) Feed together. Once you have all perfected feeding and latching on feeding together saves time and allows you more rest time.
4) Invest in a maternity nurse. Investing in a maternity nurse will be worth its weight in gold. She will be able to get you all into a good routine, help with any problems that may arise and give you the much needed rest you need. Its normally the winding and settling of babies that takes the time, especially at night, and so a maternity nurse can do all this while you head back to bed to get extra sleep.
5) Buy a good breastfeeding pillow. One that is made of foam is the best sort. Ones filled with beans often loose their shape and the babies sink to far down into them mid feed.
6) Bouncy chairs. These are a must and get one for each baby. They are a very worthwhile purchase.
7) Rest as much as you can. This will help so much on many levels. You wont feel as overwhelmed if you are rested. Rest is great for milk production and it also helps your body recover from a twin pregnancy and from the birth.
8) Drink plenty of fluid. Drinking a large glass of water at each feed will keep you hydrated and will give your body the fluid it needs to make breast milk.
9) Eat regularly. Eating regular meals and snacks will also help you make plenty of milk. You will need an extra 1000 calories a day while you are feeding two babies. The odd cake is allowed too!
10) Support groups for twins. There are often many support groups around the area that you live that can help you and give you valuable support. Its worth checking with your local health care workers before you give birth as to where the groups meet and on what days and times.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my breastfeeding twins page and that it has covered many of the questions raised.
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