Guest Post: 7 Tips to Nursing Twins Together

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Categories Breastfeeding, Feeding, Infants

The basics to establishing a great simultaneous relationship with your multiples from a certified lactation consultant and mom of preemie twins.

The thought of nursing twins together can be daunting! And yet, a mom of twins or higher order multiples (HOMs) will spend a significant amount of time during the first year of life feeding her babies – no matter how she chooses to feed them. In many ways, breastfeeding can be a much easier and less time consuming feeding method, once a new mom and babies figure things out. So what does it take to nurse twins at the same time?

It might be easier than you think. Here are 7 essentials to establishing nursing with your babies at the same time.

  1. Establish Your Milk Supply

    The majority of twins and HOMs will arrive early. The earlier they arrive, the harder it will be to nurse at the breast in the beginning. There may be prematurity, health issues, low birth weight, lack of buccal fat pads in the cheeks, etc. that make nursing at the breast challenging. But, building a strong milk supply so that you can continue to feed your babies milk once they grow is important. It is critical to transitioning them to the breast so that they don’t face slow let-downs and frustration that keep them from learning to enjoy nursing at the breast and prefer that fast, effortless flow of a bottle teat. If you are pumping, a general rule of thumb is that you want to produce 25 ounces for each baby every 24 hours.

  2. Help Each Baby Individually, First

    Yes, you have two (or more) babies but they are also individuals. One may be an expert at nursing from the beginning while the other may have tongue tie, be too tired to nurse effectively, or a variety of other issues that keep her from breastfeeding at first. Helping to establish effective breastfeeding for each baby individually will make nursing them at the same time infinitely easier. A baby who struggles to nurse well will need both of your arms which will then make nursing two at the same time much more challenging. Take as long as you need to get each baby nursing well with a good latch and milk intake. Then you can transition to feeding both at the same time. There is no time frame for this. Healthy, near-term twins may both nurse great the first day and you can begin nursing together almost immediately. It may take weeks or months to establish this with other twin sets. And remember, if one baby isn’t nursing well, make sure you pump to build/maintain your supply for two babies.

  3. Allow Lots of Time and Grace if Premature, Near Term, or Small for Gestational Age

    Every baby is different. Just because one twin nurses well early-on doesn’t mean the other can or should. Each baby is an individual and it’s important to treat them that way. Babies who are small or come early will almost always need more time to grow/mature before they can breastfeed well. Don’t get frustrated with the slower twin…he will get it.As a personal note of encouragement – I brought my preemie twins, born in Egypt, home from the hospital at 32 weeks/3 days when they were 5 days old, losing weight, jaundiced, and just 3 ½ pounds. One of my boys could have nursed at the breast from the beginning. But the other lost weight nursing and had to have a bottle. Because I was converting a breast pump from 110 to 220 volts I could only pump on the kitchen counter – not conducive to nursing my other preemie at the same time. Therefore I ended up pumping and giving bottles for a couple months before they were able to nurse effectively, and together, at the breast. But, eventually, they did both get it! You can read my story here.

  4. Have Lots of Pillows and a Comfy/Relaxing Nursing Area

    You are going to spend a significant portion of the first year feeding babies. You need to be comfortable. Having lots of pillows built up around you for support will allow your arms to relax and not have to hold the weight of each baby. When you use enough pillows, your babies should be able to rest comfortably on either side (nursing in the football hold for example and your arms should be free to help each baby latch). Once nursing, you can use your arms to stroke, touch, and cuddle each baby. Experiment until you find the right pillow combination for you (whether it’s commercial twin feeding pillows or just regular pillows stacked around you).

  5. Have Support from Family/Friends/Breastfeeding Moms Group

    Having support, encouragement, and a personal cheerleader cannot be overestimated. It is critical to success. Ideally you will gather a team of supporters around you while you are pregnant. If your partner isn’t on board, use pregnancy to read and learn together why breastfeeding is a great (and reasonable) option for feeding twins. Find those in your family and circle of close friends who will support you and not encourage you not to give up. Finally, make sure to plug into a breastfeeding support group while you are still pregnant. Not only will you meet new moms that might become lifelong friends, but you will also have experienced support and help when your babies are born.

  6. Request to Meet with an IBCLC

    Even if everything is going perfectly, meet with the IBCLC at the hospital. Have her watch the latch, or develop a plan to build your milk supply if your babies are premature and not breastfeeding yet. Find out what type of IBCLC support is available in your area once you leave the hospital. If you cannot continue with the one at the hospital find one in private practice. Many insurance companies are beginning to cover this and, even if they don’t, the cost is miniscule when compared with buying formula. A qualified IBCLC (who has experience with preemies, multiples, etc.) can help potential problems from even getting started and make sure you are doing everything possible for success. And don’t be afraid to find another if the first isn’t helpful (just like you would any medical doctor or professional).

  7. Determination is Your Key to Success

    Realize every baby is different so it may take a day or months, but don’t give up. Have your supporters and cheerleaders surrounding you for constant encouragement. Allow others to help with housework, cooking, and older children. Your job is to focus on feeding these new babies. Determination can overcome even the most difficult of situations and is so important for success. Don’t give up mama…you can do it!

KristaKrista Gray is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), La Leche League Leader, and mother of four breastfed children, including preemie twins. At Nursing Nurture Krista shares research-based information and experience to help moms in their breastfeeding journeys. You can also connect with Krista on Twitter @nursingnurture and on Facebook {http://fb.com/nursingnurture}.

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