Tips for Breastfeeding Twins

Is it possible to breastfeed twins and triplets? Yes. It is possible to breastfeed twins and triplets. Many mothers of twins breastfeed their twins or triplets exclusively and thoroughly enjoy doing so.

If you would like to try breastfeeding tell your midwife – she will show you how to breastfeed.

Your Midwife will also be able to help you with positioning of your babies and ensure that they are latched on and feeding well. She may also be able to put you in touch with your local breastfeeding group or lactation adviser. Mums at your local twins club should also be able to offer help and support.

Benefits of Breastfeeding Twins

•It passes on some of your immunity,
•It is quicker – no bottles to clean and sterilise unless of course you are offering some of your expressed breast milk
•It helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape more quickly
•It’s free
•Where ever you happen to be you have a feed there ready and waiting for you, dispensing at the right temperature.
•Is easier to digest than formula
•Less chance of them catching a tummy bug
•The babies are less likely to be constipated
•It is thought to help protect them from obesity, chest infections, ear infections, child onset diabetes, eczema and asthma
•It helps to protect you from breast and ovarian cancers and from developing weak bones in later life.
Will I have enough milk to feed twins/triplets?  Your body produces milk on a supply and demand basis, so the greater the demand for milk, the more milk is produced. Once breastfeeding is established you should have no need to worry about whether or not you have enough milk to go round.
I have small breasts – does this mean I won’t be able to breastfeed twins? Small breast size should not affect your bodies ability to produce breast milk.

I had a caesarean does this mean my milk won’t come in? Milk production is sparked off by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone dropping after the placenta is removed so having a caesarean should have no bearing on milk production. Once the oestrogen and progesterone levels have dropped, prolactin and oxytocin are released which allows the breasts to release milk.

What equipment do I need to breastfeed twins? Really all you need is yourself and your twins! However there are some things you can buy that can make breastfeeding more comfortable. Some mums find that a large V shaped pillow  or specially designed breastfeeding pillow to support the babies really helps, or having several pillows stacked up under both babies so that they are at the right height to latch on properly.

At least a couple of good well supporting nursing bras are also a must. Make sure you get properly measured for this so it offers maximum support and is comfortable.

Breast pads are very useful for mopping up any leakage’s from your breasts, you can either buy reusable cloth ones or disposable paper ones.

If you are going to exclusively breastfeed you will need to consider what you are going to do when you go out without your babies. If you are going to express breast milk you will need a breast pump (unless you choose to express by hand). You can either use a single breast pump or buy a special breast pump which pumps milk from both breasts at once. The choice is up to you. Both work efficiently.

If you are going to offer breast milk indirectly you will need to work out whether you would prefer to offer milk using cups or  bottles and buy either the cups or bottles and of course a bottle brush and sterilizer.

A note book is a really good idea so you can jot down who has been fed and for how long.
Having a bouncy chair to pop one twin in can also be a great help.

Some mums have found that a loose fitting t-shirt allows them the discretion needed to breastfeed twins. Having a button down shirt doesn’t really work so effectively for twins.

When will I be able to breast feed my twins for the first time? If your twins are good birth weights and not very premature, you will be able to put them to the breast soon after birth. Usually this is in their first alert or wide-awake time which normally happens in the first 30-90 minutes after the birth.
How will I know how to breastfeed my twins? Your midwife will show you how to position the babies and how to get them latched on properly. If she doesn’t show you how, then ask her to show you.

Breastfeeding, the first few days after birth. For around the first 2-3 days your body will produce a special substance called colostrum. This is a yellowy colour and made up of water, protein and minerals and is exactly what your baby needs. It also contains vital antibodies which can help protect him/her from infection. Between days three and four after birth your body will stop producing colostrum and start producing milk.

Establishing Breastfeeding with Twins. In the first few days it is a good idea to give your babies short but frequent feeds. This helps your milk come in  as breast milk is made on a supply and demand basis, so the greater the demand the greater the supply! It also allows them to get used the sucking action, enables them to feed before they are so hungry that they are too tired to manage it and enables your breasts to get used to the idea of having two babies suckling from them too.

How do you Breast feed Twins?
First Get Comfortable When you breast feed you will need either a large comfy chair, or sofa or even a double bed. It can help to have access to either the tv or some relaxing music  to listen to whilst you feed. Some mums have an audio book on the go, others watch dvd’s or a programme on the tv.

A large V shaped cushion is also really good for supporting babies on especially if you have a caesarean section in that you want to take as much pressure as possible off your abdomen. If you don’t have a V shaped cushion you could use some extra pillows stacked up so that your babies mouths are at the same height as your breasts.
Have a drink before you start breast feeding and one after you finish. It’s also a good idea to pop to the loo before you start too.At first you may need some help to pick the babies up and to place them in the correct position for breast feeding, but after a while you will be able to pick them up and latch them on without any help.

It can help for you to have a bouncy chair to hand for you to put one of the babies in should you need to for whatever reason. Sometimes one baby needs a little extra time on the breast so you could pop him/her into the baby bouncer whilst you finish off the other twin.

Relax! The more relaxed you are about breast feeding, the more milk is going to be produced. This is because the hormone Oxytocin is released more readily if you are relaxed. Having some calming or soothing music on in the background whilst you feed can help you relax.

What breastfeeding position should I use to feed my twins? How you hold your babies depends on what suits you. There are three main ways used by mums of twins.

The first is often called the rugby ball hold as it looks similar to the way you would hold a rugby ball. The babies heads are supported by mum’s hands, their bodies are supported by pillows and their feet are tucked under mums arms.

The second and third ways have the babies bodies to the front of mum, one method has both babies feet laying the same way both supported by pillows and the other method has the babies criss-crossed in front of the mother, again supported by pillows.

Which ever method you use is fine, experiment until you find one that suits you. As long as the babies mouths are positioned correctly so they latch on properly, you are comfortable and they are comfortable then they will be fine.

You need to get your babies to take into their mouth a good amount of nipple and the darker surrounding area and form a good seal round it. You should be able to see your babies suckling properly.

How can I tell if they’re latched on properly?If you are worried about whether your babies are latched on properly, ask your midwife to double check how you latch your babies on. Sometimes a little guidance from a midwife or trained lactation consultant can make a huge difference to a mothers experience of breastfeeding.

How long should I allow them to suckle for? As long as they need is the general recommendation. At first babies (particularly small ones) need a small amount of milk at a time at very frequent intervals. Some babies finish a feed in around 10-20 minutes, others especially newborns can take a while longer. A baby who has had enough may move his or her head away from the breast.

Should I swap breasts midway through the feed? There is no need to swap breasts midway through a feed as each breast is more than capable of providing what your twins need each time. You may swap breasts so that each twin has a different breast to drink from each feed, although some twin mums prefer to offer each twin the same breast at each feed. If you find one has a stronger sucking action than the other you might feel more comfortable allowing that twin to start on the opposite breast to their last feed, but really whatever works for you and your individual twins is absolutely fine.

What if they fall asleep on the breast? Newborn babies often do this, especially in the early days. If you feel that they haven’t had enough milk for this feed you could wake them up a bit by changing their nappies and then seeing if they want a little more milk. If you think they have had enough to drink then that’s fine let them sleep, put them gently into their bouncy chair or cot.
A lot of baby experts think that it’s a bad idea to let them fall asleep on the breast but sometimes babies just do fall asleep on the breast it seems a bit silly waking them up again if they have finished their milk and are full. However if they haven’t been fed for a while and you know they need a feed, you will have to wake them up to feed them.

However, if they seem unsettled after a feed it would be worth investigating if there is any other cause for their fretfulness. They can sometimes need something else such as winding, a cuddle, they may be bored, or over stimulated or tired, or may be wet or dirty, or too hot or too cold. Listening to the pitch of their cries can help as often they use a different tone of cry for different things, which given time you will be able to translate – at least some of the time!

How will I know that they are getting enough milk? You know that you are letting them suckle for long enough if they seem content after a feed. Your breasts should feel also emptier after a feed. After the first few days your babies should be having at least 6-8 wet nappies a day and look healthy and content. After the first few weeks your babies should be gaining weight at a steady pace.

Should you find that your babies are not settling well even after a full feed, are still showing signs of hunger, or are not gaining weight or do not have at least 6-8 wet nappies a day your babies may need longer on the breast. If you find that they are falling asleep or look a little tired midway through the feed it is fine to have a few minutes break, maybe change their nappies or perhaps put one in their bouncy chair for a few minutes whilst you finish the other twins feed. You can then finish the second twins feed once the first one has finished theirs. You will soon see what works for your babies.

If your babies fontanelle’s (soft spots on their heads) have a dip or a bulge, this can mean your babies are dehydrated or not well, so contact your GP.

If your breasts are sore during or after a feed you may need to make slight adjustments when latching your babies on to get them correctly positioned. Once your breasts are used to being used for breastfeeding, it should not be uncomfortable to breastfeed.

If you are at all worried about breastfeeding your babies contact your health visitor for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, that is what they are there for.

How long between feeds? This depends on the individual babies – and can vary from day to day. Babies go through growth spurts and hungry days and days when they just need a little comfort. It makes sense to feed them at least every 3 to 4 hours during the day, more often if they are hungry. Some babies like to cluster feed. This is where they have several feeds in fairly quick succession often with a longer gap at the end. This happens especially in the evenings or when having a growth spurt.
See what works for each of your babies and feed them on demand. Don’t worry about not having enough milk, your body automatically produces milk when your babies need it, and the more you feed the more milk you will produce.

If you find that they just won’t settle at all or they look unwell or have a temperature contact your GP or health visitor for advice.

However if you are fairly certain that they are full and they still don’t seem to want to settle down or are crying even after a full feed then check that they are not
•Dirty or wet
•Full of wind
•Too hot or cold
•In need of a cuddle
•Over stimulated

If you feel they are not well then contact your GP for advice.

If you are worried they are not feeding often enough then contact your GP or Health Visitor
What about night feeds?For the first weeks your babies will need to be fed round the clock at least every 3-4 hours. They may go longer during the night after the first 2-3 months when they are able to take more milk on board at each feed during the day.

How you deal with the night feeds is up to you and your babies. Some twins naturally wake at similar times so it makes sense in this case to feed both together if you feel confident to do this, or one after the other if you prefer to feed them individually.

Should your twins not usually wake up for feeds at a similar time  and they are of an age where they still need a night feed or if they are for whatever reason likely to wake up hungry during the night, it makes sense to wake the second twin up when you have finished feeding the first one, otherwise you are likely to climb back into bed just when the second twin wake ups! If you are used to breastfeeding them both together then it is fine to wake the other twin up and feed them both together.

Whatever you do, it is important that night times are deadly boring for your twins. This means no bright lights, no talking unless absolutely necessary, no playing. Having a night light bulb in a table lamp in a far corner will provide enough light for you to see what you’re doing without making your babies be any more wide awake than strictly necessary. A dimmer switch on an over head light can also provide sufficient light, especially if you only put it on its very first click.

Will they both suck at the same rate? You may find that one twin likes breast feeding and gets a good sucking action right from day one and gets satisfied quickly where his/her twin may take a while longer to finish each feed. It is possible to work to the needs of each twin, you will get more adept at getting yourself comfortable and being able to put one twin safely down whilst you finish off the other twin.
It takes practice to get it right Breast feeding can take a little while to become accustomed to, especially if your twins are your first children. However you will quickly get into the rhythm of picking your babies up, getting ready for feeding and getting comfortable.

Feeding newborn twins  Do I have to feed them together? NO! You don’t HAVE to feed them both together. Sometimes it is very nice to be able to simply feed them one at a time. This way you can give them a proper cuddle as you feed them. That said, it is useful to  have the skill to feed them both at the same time especially when time is at a premium or for night feeds.

Is there anything else I should consider when breastfeeding twins? It is important to eat a healthy diet and to drink plenty. Always have a drink before and after feeding. Eat little and often and think carefully about what you are eating, eating foods that are nutritious is better than eating lots of fatty, sugary snacks that are full of empty calories. You will need to have around 800-1000 extra calories  per day for twins.

I am breastfeeding twins but have been given medication, is it safe?  The best way to check this is to talk to your pharmacist or GP. Always mention to your GP or Pharmacist that you are breastfeeding to be on the safe side. This also goes for natural, herbal and homeopathic remedies. Whilst many medicines are now safe for use for breastfeeding it is always wise to double check. Check the instructions in the box and if you are in any doubt, check with your GP or the pharmacist.

What happens when you are out and about? Many places are now breast feeding friendly and will offer you a comfortable place to breastfeed discreetly. It is possible to breastfeed discreetly with twins especially if you wear a baggy top or maybe a poncho or wrap if it is cold. You could breastfeed each individually when you are out but this takes longer than if you are able to feed them together. If you prefer to do them individually this is absolutely fine.

Should you go out for some time on your own, you will need to have either left a couple of bottles or cup of expressed milk in the fridge. Expressing does not take very long when you know how to do it properly. If you need help learning to express contact your midwife or health visitor, or a lactation consultant for help.

Expressed breast milk is able to be stored for up to 5 days in a refrigerator if at a temperature of 4oc or lower, or up to 6 months in the freezer. All the containers you use must be sterile. Defrost your milk in the refrigerator and warm in a jug until it is warm but not too hot. Discard any left over breast milk after each feed it does not keep after being warmed up.

Some mums offer a bottle of formula as an alternative to expressed breast milk whilst they are out.
How can I wean my babies from Breastfeeding onto a bottle/ beaker.If they are under 16 weeks old, you will need to offer them either a cup, or from a bottle. Put the expressed breast milk or formula into the bottle and if possible allow someone else to give them it!  If they are 16 weeks+ you could try weaning them straight onto a beaker, it might help to offer them a different drink like well diluted fruit juice or water from the beaker until they’re used to drinking from the beaker. Then add your expressed breast milk to it or formula depending on what you’re hoping to give them. It can help if you let another adult (for instance Dad!) offer the milk to them in the beaker, as they might decide they want your milk direct from you if they smell you!

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