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With four kids in the house two of whom are twins, I have experienced quite a bit of breastfeeding. My first child nursed for 5 1/2 months, my second for a year and the twins nursed until they were 13 months old. Feeding single babies is different than feeding twins, but the 9 tips I share with you here have been learned from all of my experiences and benefit moms of single babies too
We all know the health benefits of breastfeeding-it is nature’s way of nourishing our littlest ones. This post however is not meant to make you feel bad if you must switch your baby to another food source. I had to do it with my first. In fact there are homemade formula recipes
you can try to be as natural and frugal as possible.
Whether breastfeeding one baby or two, this list of tips is what I wish I would have known when starting out with one baby.
Tips for Breastfeeding Twins (or Single Babies)
1) Supplies are Important
I tried to breastfeed my twins using my Boppy pillow
that I used with my first two children. Although it was a great tool for breastfeeding my single babies, it was not big enough for twins. A friend recommended the MyBrestFriend nursing pillow and after doing a little research I discovered the company made a Twin Deluxe version
. It has been essential. I nursed the babies while typing this post, because this pillow allows me to be completely hands-free. You have to check out this pillow!
I breastfeed the twins on the floor. I set the babies each in a Boppy pillow-we bought a second from a yard sale site just for this purpose. Then I sit down on the floor, strap on the Twin Deluxe nursing pillow and lift the babies onto the twin pillow. I can set them down in the Boppy pillows when a nursing session has ended with no risk of the babies falling. If I fed them sitting up on the couch, there would be a risk of falling.
If you do not have two Boppy pillows, use two bouncy seats, or one Boppy and one seat.Of course if you are feeding one baby, sitting wherever you are comfortable works fine. The nursing nest idea can still work for you, you just designate a spot that is always for you while feeding the baby. Keep your phone, a paper and pen, a good book, etc. nearby and it will always be ready for your next feeding session.
3) I have to eat a lot
After gaining 50 pounds with the twins, I lost a lot, quickly, after they were born. Forty pounds came off in about 2 months! Breastfeeding is the best weight-loss program out there. Now I still weigh 10 pounds more than I did before getting pregnant, for a necessary reason-milk production.
I always hold on to extra weight while breastfeeding. Our bodies have to know they have the extra calories needed to support milk production. If I do not snack often today, tomorrow my babies will act like they are not getting enough milk at some feedings. When I ramp up my snacks-I eat almost every time I nurse-then they are pretty much satisfied after every feeding. I eat things like a cheese stick, yogurt, a handful of cashews, fruit or a granola bar as snacks.
If you start gaining weight due to too much snacking, then cut back a little, but ease into cutting back so your body knows it has calorie stores and calorie flow to support this high-calorie breastfeeding task.
4) I have to drink a lot of water
I have a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle. It gets filled up before almost every feeding. Try to have a bottle or glass of water with you at all times. Every time I sit down to breastfeed, I take at least 3 gulps of water and then again at the end of the feeding I do the same. (Of course drink whenever you feel thirsty.)
Through the night, I keep the water bottle next to my bed. Three gulps before and after a feeding…and more often if I feel thirsty.
If I have been nursing for a longer stretch-some nursing sessions last 30 minutes-and the twins start tugging at the breast like they want more, when I take some gulps of water, my milk has actually started to let down again. It is pretty amazing how the body works! Staying hydrated is so important.
5) When Baby acts like they need more
There are times when my babies act like they want more milk at the end of a nursing session. It is frustrating to hear a baby whine or feel them tug at the breast when they are not satisfied, but think about this in terms of how we adults feel at times:
Often when I am eating a really tasty meal, even when I eat every last bit, I feel like I want more. I may not need more, though. There is a delay between the stomache feeling full and the brain recognizing it. A pediatrician once told me, when I was concerned about how much my first child spat up after feedings, that breastmilk tastes good to babies. They sometimes keep drinking, or want to keep drinking, after they have had enough.
In order to curb frustration, I have a simple solution that has worked for the twins and me when one or both babies act like they want more at the end of a feeding:
Remove baby/babies from the breast, burp them or hold them to you for a moment, then set them down in a bouncy seat or boppy pillow, and take a 10-15 minute break. It sounds like a long time, but really, this is enough time for me to stand up (remember, I am sitting on the floor for a full feeding), take a bathroom break, refill the essential water bottle and maybe clean up the dinner plates or some clutter. Then if the babies are not content, I head back to start another feeding. Pretty much every time I have done this, I have a let down of milk after the break and the babies act satisfied.
-Baby is gaining weight at each doctor visit.
-Baby is content after most feedings.
-Baby is producing enough wet and dirty diapers.
*Acting like they want more IS NOT always a sign that baby NEEDS more!
6) Avoid pumping in the evening, if possible
Pumping at different times of the day is helpful for increasing milk supply, but I have found that pumping in the evening causes the babies to act like they are not getting enough at the crucial time before falling asleep. There are substances in breastmilk
during the evening feedings that help induce sleep in babies. Pumping in the evening and then having less milk available at the next feeding may cause baby to not fall asleep as easily and stay asleep as long. (Some babies nurse frequently no matter what you do, like my second child.)
I am not a pumping super woman, but when I get a rare moment to pump, I pump in the morning before the babies wake up. My volume of milk is highest in the morning, so in my experience the twins do not seem as irritable when I have pumped in the morning versus in the evening.
7) (For the twin moms) Feed both babies at the same time
This just makes sense otherwise you will be awake every hour through the night and never will get a break during the day. Trust me, I was not feeding both babies at the same time right after they were born. When they were one month old I finally felt that I could handle both of them at the same time, and I admit, feeding two babies at once feels like a super power. I think our bodies are amazing with how they can nourish our children!
Research also suggests that when both babies are nursing at the same time, hormone levels increase
(more than when feeding one baby) causing milk supply to increase as well. Bonus!
8) Be the pacifier
We used pacifiers with our first two children. The twins have not been interested in them. (Believe me, I tried. I even had a lactation consultant at the hospital tell me I should try a pacifier with the twins!) I think not using a pacifier has been a good thing, though, because no feedings go unnoticed or delayed. What I mean is that if I am seeing feeding cues from the babies and I try the pacifier first, I may be missing out on stimulation that can increase milk supply. With any breastfeeding baby, supply is a good thing!
9) Give it time
The biggest breastfeeding lie I was told was that breastfeeding should not hurt. Well, it did-at first. I was in a bit of pain for about 2 weeks with baby #1. With baby #2, the soreness lasted about 1 week, and with the twins it took me about 2 weeks to a month to stop feeling sore during a feeding. Baby has not tried breastfeeding prior to birth just as you have not tried to breastfeed until then. Your body needs time to adjust.
I had a cracked nipple with every baby right after we got home from the hospital. Every time a baby latched on, I had to grit my teeth. I just kept using my finger to adjust how the baby was attached-and loaded on the lanolin after every feeding! Baby learned, I learned, and the pain stopped. It takes a little time. Motherhood requires a lot of patience
from the start!
Breastfeeding is skin-to-skin contact, it stimulates hormones that fight off post partum depression, and it is natural. I know that some moms do not have good experiences with breastfeeding. We are all different. This list is what has worked for me.I truly hope the ideas I shared can help you push through the challenges and reach breastfeeding success. Remember, if you do have to formula feed (and I did for a bit with baby #1), you are still caring for your child, and no one would tell you not to do that!
This post is featured in A Complete Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms: Resources for Pregnancy and Feeding and Caring for Baby. View all of the included articles for moms HERE.
More Great Tips for Breastfeeding Twins here. To search for a lactation consultant in your area click here.
For more tips and resources about feeding babies, check out the list of blogs sharing in the Ultimate Guide to Baby’s First Year: