When I tell strangers I have twins, sometimes their eyes get real wide and they give a look like oh my gosh how are you even still standing after going through that? How do you live? Twin mamas will back me up there. And if those people find out you are breastfeeding, then you become Mother Milk Goddess or totally insane. I'm a good balance of both, and accept praise and support whenever I can get it because it helps supply. Positive reinforcement = more ounces produced. At least that's what I believe. The less stress, the better.
Breastfeeding twins isn't always easy. But I know of no other way to breastfeed as I only have twins. So how do you survive breastfeeding twins? Like this ....
Have faith in yourself. You can do this. Yes, you can! You are Mother Milk Goddess.
Nurse your twins at the same time. It took me two or so weeks to finally try nursing my babies at the same time and once I did it, I thought well that was silly I was so nervous about that! If you breastfeed them separately every time, you may end up feeling like that's all you do. Breastfeed baby A, put baby for nap. Breastfeed baby B, put that baby down for nap, then baby A wakes up and repeat.
Seriously consider scheduling. Some people hate the schedule and I get that and respect that. But for me having my twins on the same schedule brought sanity to all. So if one was still napping when it was time to nurse, I would gently wake that baby to eat as well.
Nurse where it's comfortable for you. Love the chair or the couch or you bed? Try them all to see where you are most comfortable. Make sure you don't lose your posture though because that's really easy to do (says me, currently slumped over computer and doing all I can to remember to sit up straight).
Use a pillow or My Breast Friend. They even have special twin nursing pillows. I used a Boppy sometimes and My Breast Friend (at different times) and both worked really well for me so I wasn't straining myself to sit in the same position for 20 minutes. You need to be relaxed so use what you need to help you feel that way.
Have a system. If you nurse when your partner is home, then he can help you, but if you are alone, you need a system. This is what worked for me when my kids were infants. I would put one on the couch with the Boppy on one side. Then quickly got the other baby and put her on the other side. I sat in the middle, strapped into My Breast Friend and then was able to reach both easily from either side to get them latched on. *May take practice.
Be prepared if one is finished and the other is not. Sometimes one baby will be done before the other, so if you are alone, be prepared with some toys on hand to keep the other baby happy while the other finishes. Sometimes baby will just fall asleep, but being prepared for the just in case is a good idea.
Don't compare (too much) or worry (that much). When you have twins, it's very challenging not to compare. He ate more than she did -- is she okay? Why did she poop and he didn't? It happens. Twins aren't exactly the same even when they are identical. Still, I know, it's so hard not to compare, but when you find yourself doing it, stop. One baby may spend more time at the breast than the other and that's okay. You will know when to really worry.
Pump. Yes, pump is a four-letter word, but it's a necessary thing. Many twin moms prefer and recommend a hospital grade pump. I didn't use one and felt it worked fine. But pumping is good to maintain supply and may be needed even before you head back to work (if you are heading back to work). You can pump between feedings (and naps, you own naps too) to help production.
Drink lots of water. Then drink more. Try putting a glass of water within reach and drink while nursing. Staying hydrated is so important and something we too often forget. Also eat well -- you need the calories to continue being Mother Milk Goddess.
Remember anything they get from you is great. Many, many moms of twins have trouble keeping up with supply. Many can exclusively breastfeed twins, but a lot of women can't. Breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing. Give your babies as much breast milk as you can and if you have to supplement with formula, do not feel guilty. That is you doing the best for your baby.
One breast may produce less than the other -- don't worry about that. Both breasts would produce 10 ounces per session in a world where cupcakes have healthy calories and you can eat 10 a day with no repercussions. I had good production from my right; less than good from left. Keep on keepin' on, mama. This happens to some and you make changes as you need to. Alternate which baby gets which breast each feed. You can also switch them up midway. One baby may have a better suck, so you also want your body to get used to that on both breasts.
Keep going even if one weans. Celine Dion was talking about how one of her twins stopped nursing at 9 1/2 months, but the other baby (now 14 months) is still breastfeeding. Remember, different kids do different things. So if one is finished, you can keep going with the other. My daughter weaned at 15 months, while my son wanted to keep nursing.
Breastfeed separately sometimes as well. I know I said to nurse at the same time, but you do want to have some bonding time with each child separately. So sometimes just nurse one. It will feel so easy to just manage one after you wrangle two for a while.
I know every woman is different and some other issues may arise. This is general advice based on my experience nursing twins. Mostly I want to encourage all moms to know it's worth trying. You can do this, twin mamas!
Do you have any more advice to add? Suggestions from your own experience?
Image via photographybyjoelle/Flickr