Breastfeeding twins: what you should know
When you're pregnant with twins, there are many things to consider, from twin names, to getting the nursery ready and considering whether you'll breastfeed. Breastfeeding has many benefits for your children, but feeding twins comes with its own unique challenges.
It's not uncommon for twins to be born prematurely. Breast milk is ideal for premature babies. Their digestive systems aren't fully matured, and breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
Experts recommend trying to feed each newborn individually at first to identify feeding patterns or breastfeeding problems with each baby. Once you've discovered the particular way each baby feeds, you can try tandem nursing. Tandem nursing is the practice of feeding both babies at the same time.
Tandem nursing isn't absolutely necessary when you're feeding twins, but many moms find that it's a great way to save time. Keep in mind that some babies simply prefer to nurse individually. Others might prefer to breastfeed on their own at a certain hour but can tandem nurse at other times. All babies nurse differently, and time and practice will reveal how your babies prefer to nurse.
Finding the right position can make tandem breastfeeding much easier. Here are some of the most common positions for tandem breastfeeding:
Place a twin nursing pillow or regular pillow on each side of your body. Put a baby on either side, supporting their backs with your forearm and their bottoms with your elbows. Keep the babies' bodies turned toward you so that they're not facing up while they nurse.
Place each baby with their heads on each of your forearms and their bodies facing yours. Place your babies' legs overlapping, making an X on your lap.
Position one baby in the clutch position and the other in the cradle position. If one of the babies has difficulty latching onto your breast, position that baby first in the cradle position.
How does a breastfeeding pillow for twins help?
Some nursing pillows are specifically designed for tandem breastfeeding. These pillows provide a firm, large surface that's capable of holding both babies at once. A twin nursing pillow will keep your hands free so that you can correct your babies' latch or change positions.
5 tips for breastfeeding twins
1. Keep some stored breast milk.
It's very possible that your babies' feeding schedules will be different from each other. When only one of your babies wants to nurse, you might be tired from the rest of your routine. Pump some breast milk and store it to be able to feed your baby without having to nurse every time. Storing breast milk can also allow other members of the family to feed the babies.
2. Don't be afraid to supplement with formula.
At the end of the day, there's nothing more important than making sure that your babies are well fed. If breastfeeding your twins becomes too difficult or if your milk supply is too low, you can supplement their nutrition with infant formula.
Your babies' pediatrician will be able to advise you on the type of formula that your babies need, how to prepare it, and how many ounces they should drink each day. If you're still breastfeeding, your babies will be able reap the benefits of breast milk. However, you need to remember that your milk supply could decrease if you breastfeed or pump less than 8 to 10 times per day.
3. Make sure both babies are latching correctly.
Breastfeeding more for twins shouldn't mean that your nipples are sore or cracked. If your nipples are in pain, it's more likely due to a poor latch. Make sure that your babies start nursing with wide-open mouths and aim your nipple towards the roof of their mouth to ensure a good latch.
4. Keep your energy up.
Nursing a baby usually takes up 500 calories each day. Multiply that by 2 when you're breastfeeding twins! You need to increase your caloric intake each day to make sure that your body still has enough energy to perform all your daily activities in addition to feeding your babies.
5. Ask for help if you need it.
Nursing is a lot of work for one baby — even more for two! Don't be afraid to ask for help from your loved ones, and don't be embarrassed to accept their help when they offer it.
Other people can help you position your babies before nursing, or they can feed the babies with formula or stored breast milk. They can also help with other tasks such as burping the babies, changing their diapers, or performing other household chores.
How to increase your milk supply
Increasing your milk supply is very important when feeding twins, since they'll need more milk as they get older. These tips can help you increase your milk supply:
- Nurse or pump more frequently.
- Make sure your baby latches on properly.
- Breastfeed or pump from both breasts.
- Manually express milk or stimulate your nipples.
- Keep your baby awake while they nurse.
- Get enough calories and nutrients from your diet.
- Try to stay well rested.
Feeding twins takes some practice. Whether are tandem breastfeeding, supplementing with formula, feeding each baby individually, or pumping breast milk to bottle feed them, the most important thing is that you and the babies are healthy and feeling good.