If you’re pregnant with twins, congratulations! You’re about to embark on a wonderful adventure that’s full of double the snuggles and double the love. If you’re a little worried about how you’re going to breastfeed not one but two babies, don’t worry! While it may be a little more logistically complicated than breastfeeding just one baby, it’s something that’s totally doable — with a little planning.
Breastfeeding babies is important, and remember, it’s always better to partially breastfeed than not at all. With that in mind, here are a few tips that can make breastfeeding twins a little easier.
- Get Pumping Supplies Early
Many full-term twins can and will breastfeed well from birth, but if you are a mother of premature multiples, you will need to become best friends with the pump! Double pumping with a hospital pump raises the prolactin levels more than single pumping or (not pumping at all) and gives more breast stimulation to promote more milk. The best thing you can do for your babies and your milk supply is to do a lot of skin-to-skin contact and hand expression either while pumping or on its own. If your babies are not able to go to the breast right away, be sure to start pumping early and often using the hospital pump because it can help stimulate your breasts, encouraging your milk to come in. Also, since twins often arrive earlier than single babies, it’s a good idea to order a personal breast pump through insurance as well as pumping supplies ahead of time, just to be prepared, if and when it’s needed.
- Get a Good Breast Pump
Although many mothers choose to exclusively nurse their twins, others may want to get a personal breast pump as well so your partner can feed them at least some of the time. Because moms of twins tend to pump more than moms of single babies, look for a breast pump with a higher MMHG and ones with a two-year warranty, because they usually have stronger motors, which equates to better suction. That can be helpful for some moms who need extra stimulation or moms who end up pumping exclusively. (The breast pumps we carry with two-year warranties include Spectra s9, Spectra S2 and 1, Ameda Mya with tote, Ameda Mya Joy, Rumble Tuff, Unimom and BabyBuddha). Also, make sure to buy extra membranes and valves because you’ll need to replace them once a month to continue to get good suction. And if you’re planning on going back to work, you might want to consider buying a second pump so you don’t have to carry one back and forth with you each day.
- Learn How to Nurse Two Babies at a Time
Learning to breastfeed two babies at once is a challenge, but it can be done with a lot of patience and help. Breastfeeding usually begins by feeding one baby at a time. Moms usually feel like they do not have enough hands for one baby, let alone two at a time! Once you can handle nursing one baby, you can start nursing both at the same time. There are several methods to do this, including the double clutch or double football holds, where both babies are positioned on pillows on each side of you, with their heads facing front and their feet back along your sides, as if you’re cradling a football. Check out the Mayo Clinic for more breastfeeding positions for twins.
- Get Support
Studies have shown that mothers who get breastfeeding support end up breastfeeding longer than those who do not, so if you’re experiencing any trouble, it’s important to seek out help. You can contact a lactation consultant or join a virtual support group (check out our Facebook and Instagram accounts) on social media. Groups that are cater specifically to mothers of twins could also be very beneficial.
- Get Into a Rhythm
Multiplies breastfeed eight to 12 times a day, just like single babies (or more during growth spurts), and finding a good rhythm is very important for both babies and mothers to ensure everyone is happy and their needs are met. There are a few different feed patterns moms can try to encourage that both of her breasts are being stimulated and that both babies are getting the proper balance of fore and hindmilk. For example, if you give Baby A the right breast and Baby B the left breast, switch them for the next feeding. Or if you give Baby A the right breast all day and Baby B the left breast all day, switch sides the next day. Or you could feed Baby A from both breasts and then Baby B from both breasts, and then on the next feeding, have Baby B go first. By doing this, the stronger feeder can stimulate milk production for the weaker feeder and help create an even supply on both sides.
- Eat and Drink a LOT
Many mothers of twins worry that they’re not going to be able to produce enough milk to feed two babies. Luckily, our bodies are amazing, and the more babies you have, the more milk you will make. But making breast milk requires a lot of energy, so don’t forget to eat and drink enough to keep your strength up. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, moms who breastfeed exclusively need about 600 to 700 extra calories per baby per day. To make up those calories, they suggest eating a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fat-free or low-fat dairy and whole grains, and foods rich in iron and calcium. They also suggest eating at least two servings a week of fatty fish such as salmon or sardines to get an adequate amount of omega-3 fatty acids to help with proper brain development in your babies.