Breastfeeding just one baby can be difficult for some new mums, so the thought of breastfeeding twins may leave you in a cold sweat. Here’s how to approach breastfeeding twins:
1. Believing is key to success
Gain some confidence and self-belief that you can do this! Read as much as you can about breastfeeding and contact other breastfeeding mums through local breastfeeding support groups or Breastfeeding Cafes - they will be a fountain of knowledge. Speak to your Midwife – some areas provide NHS breastfeeding classes during pregnancy and some hospitals even have a dedicated multiple birth class where you can meet other soon-to-be twin parents. Visit the TAMBA (Twin & Multiple Birth Association) website which is packed full of information in feeding twins and they also offer bags of support through local groups, Peer Support Workers and a telephone helpline. There are also breast-feeding counsellors or lactation consultants available so if that is something you would consider it might be better to find someone suitable prior to the babies’ birth so you are all set up and feel supported.
2. Be confident in your body.
Our bodies are amazing! Breastfeeding is a supply and demand process, so the more your babies feed (demand), the more milk you will produce (supply). In actual fact in the early days it’s common for a new mum to be overloaded with milk; literally having enough to feed two babies until her supply settles to become in tune to her baby’s needs. So as a twin mummy you have nothing to worry about and even if your babies are unable to feed directly from you in the early days, the same effect can be achieved by expressing from both breasts every 2-3 hours.
3. Tandem or not?
Some mums set out to tandem feed their twins (one baby on each breast at the same time) whereas some mums prefer not to so the choice is yours – there is not right or wrong answer. Breastfeeding one baby at a time in the early days may be preferable especially if they have different needs because one being bigger than the other, plus you can also give more focus to their positioning and latch as well this way. However, once they are established you may find it less time consuming to feed tandem feed them and this will also encourage them to have the same feeding pattern. Also remember you will probably need some help in the early days to place both babies at the breast at the same time, but that help may also be needed to cuddle the twin who isn’t being fed if you choose to feed one at a time! Experiment with different positions to find one that suits you and your babies the best.
4. Which breast for which baby?
Some mums give the same breast to the same baby at each feed so that breast produces the right amount of milk for that baby whereas other mums prefer to swap over at each feed – I guess there’s less chance of being lopsided this way! However, in the early days it’s worth bearing in mind that if one baby is smaller and has a weaker sucking reflex it may be helping to swap the babies around at each feed to make sure your breasts are both stimulated sufficiently whilst your supply is building up.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
It is not unusual for twins to be born before 37 weeks or for one of them to be on the small side so it’s best to be prepared that you may have an extended stay in hospital. Premature and/or being small can sometimes lead to feeding issues therefore your feeding experience might involve expressing breast milk either by hand or with an electric pump, 3 hourly feeding routines, feeding via a cup or even a nasal gastric tube but be patient and just keep asking for support and advice and you will get there (normally twin mummies gets lots of help in the hospital)
When you arrive, home don’t be afraid to recruit some addition support from family and friends, especially if your partner has to return to work. As well as some babysitting duties to allow you to catch up on sleep during the day your helpers can bring you homemade meals, change the babies and take the laundry away with them.
Life with twins in the first few weeks may feel like nonstop changing/feeding/settling-to-sleep chaos, but it will get better I promise. To be honest this chaos would still be there with formula feeding but you would also have to find the time to sterilise the bottles and make the feeds fresh at each sitting always of day and night. Therefore, once established breastfeeding twins will save you time and money compared with formula feeding.
Thanks for reading
Jane – The Midwife
For more blogs on pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum please visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.com/blogs/news
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.