7 Tips for Breastfeeding Twins

mom breastfeeding twins

Nursing can be challenging enough with one baby, but twins? "Breastfeeding twins can seem like a daunting challenge to a new mother, but it is achievable," says Cassandra Sampsell, a midwife at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. All it takes is a little timing and organization -- and don't pressure yourself. Heed this advice and you could be well on your way to nursing twins with ease.

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Tips for breastfeeding twins

  1. Start out each twin alone at the breast. "It can be helpful to nurse twins separately at the beginning," says Cindy Leclerc, a lactation consultant and co-founder of the newborn app NuuNest. The reason: it gives the mom two free hands to support and guide the baby to the breast, and to do some breast compression (gentle squeezing of breast to keep baby drinking) if needed. It's also great for one-on-one bonding with mom. Only how do you do it and guarantee both babies get their fill? "Nurse one baby first, keeping him only at one breast at that feed until he's done," Leclerc says. "Then feed the second baby, using the other breast. At the next feed, switch the twins so each feeds on the other breast. This will help with babies' eye development and can help to ensure that your milk supply is fairly even between breasts."
  2. Find a comfortable position. Once you're ready to try breastfeeding two -- called tandem nursing -- finding the right position can be tricky. Try the "football hold," where you tuck both babies under your arms with their legs extended along the sides of your body. Or try holding one in the football and the other in the traditional "cradle" position cuddled against your chest. If you're lying back, semi-reclined, the babies could also be draped along your body lengthwise, with their legs down by your hips. Experiment until you're comfortable, since you will be spending a lot of time this way.
  3. Check their diapers. Twins are often born preterm so they have trouble latching and/or taking full feeds at the breast. To find out if this is the case for your infants, check their diapers. "On day one, there should be one dark diaper, day two, two dark diapers, day three, three diapers, and by day four, there should be three or four greenish-yellow diapers plus three to six wet diapers a day," says lactation consultant Leigh Anne O'Connor. Any less, and you might want to talk to your pediatrician. Another reassuring thing a mom can do is to weigh her babies. After the third day of life, newborns typically gain one half to one ounce a day.

    More from The Stir: How to Survive Breastfeeding Twins

  4. Make sure each twin gets what she needs. For instance, oftentimes one twin will be a stronger nurser than the other. If that's the case, consider letting this twin latch on first to elicit the milk letdown -- then switch that breast to the weaker nurser so he'll have an easier time feeding. Also make sure both twins eat from both breasts so that they both get emptied and produce the same amount of milk.
  5. Know that you can make enough milk for two. As long as your babies are producing enough wet and soiled diapers and gaining enough weight, you should be good. "History is on our side: many, many women have successfully breastfed twins," points out Leclerc. That's because the amount of milk produced by your breasts is based on demand. So, having two babies nursing would demand more milk!
  6. Don't pump -- if you don't have to. If you're able to be home with your twins, consider ditching the breast pump for now. There are two reasons for this: Pumping means that more milk is being removed than the babies are consuming, which can result in uncomfortable engorgement, says Donna Dowling, a professor of nursing at Case Western Reserve University. And pumping is extra work -- the last thing a mother of twins needs. If you're exhausted just trying to keep up with nursing two and the thought of pumping on top of that makes you want to cry, skip it. The fact that you're breastfeeding twins is heroic enough.
  7. Get help. If you've tried these tips and still feel like you're struggling, see if there's a local breastfeeding support group at your local hospital or La Leche League.

What's your biggest challenge in breastfeeding twins?

 

Images © Karen Kasmauski/Science Faction/Corbis; © iStock.com/Vita-lina       

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