Expert / 3 August, 2023 / My Baba
Registered midwife Malena Monteverde from My Expert Midwife shares her expert advice on breastfeeding twins.
Is breastfeeding twins possible?
Just as caring for twins can seem daunting at first, breastfeeding twins can seem – and be! – a little trickier than breastfeeding one baby. What I observed as a midwife is that, once breastfeeding is established, mothers of twins tend to find breastfeeding easier and less time-consuming than bottle-feeding.
Can I breastfeed from just one breast?
If you are worried about having enough milk, fear not. Through years of supporting women with breastfeeding challenges, I’ve learnt that a baby can perfectly feed and thrive by feeding from only one breast – as is sometimes the case of mothers who have had a mastectomy or, simply, with babies who refuse to nurse from one side. Your incredible body will produce as much milk as it is demanded of it, be that for one, two, or more babies!
We know that breastmilk is an incomparable and complete food for your babies, but it is more than just food; it is medicine. Breastmilk helps to keep your little ones protected against diseases and infections and adapts to your babies’ individual needs, whilst breastfeeding provides closeness, touch, eye contact between you and your baby, and comfort.
All of this is invaluable for any baby and especially important for twins and multiples, who are often born early, are usually small, and are more likely to be initially separated from you after birth. Breastfeeding your twins can give them a head start in life and will help you build a stronger bond with them.
Here are some of the tips and tricks for breastfeeding twins that I used to share with families:
1. Get as ready and organised as possible before your babies are born by:
- Harvesting your colostrum from 36-37 weeks (speak to your maternity team to ensure this is ok for your individual circumstances)
- Prepping and freezing as many meals as can fit in your freezer
- Organising support from family and friends so they are on a rota to bring you cooked meals, take away and do your laundry, do the school run, care for pets, take on different house chores, etc
- Asking family/friends to gift you some sessions with a lactation consultant. This is especially important now, as staff shortages in the NHS mean there is generally less support available for breastfeeding mothers.
2. Attend breastfeeding cafes and support groups before your babies are born, so you can soak up all things breastfeeding and make contact with experts and peers who will be able to support you after the birth.
3. For the first few weeks, try to have some round-the-clock support from your partner or other loved ones. Having an extra pair of hands is invaluable and could really be a deal-breaker when it comes to breastfeeding twins.
4. Starting tandem feeding from the get-go can set your babies to feed at the same time almost every time, which may mean it saves you time, energy and, possibly, your sanity!
5. If your babies are early, sleepy, or just taking a bit longer to get the hang of it all, breastfeed one baby at a time until you both know what you are doing. This can make for a calmer experience and can give you some precious one-to-one time with each of your babies.
Do you switch sides when breastfeeding twins?
6. Seeing as one baby may feed more or more efficiently, make a note of which baby fed from which breast and switch sides. It may be easier and less confusing if you feed one baby from one breast for one whole day and night and switch sides the next day, rather than doing this at every feed.
7. Take care of your posture and your comfort by getting yourself a good breastfeeding pillow that is designed for twins. If this is not possible, you can use two firm cushions/pillows or rolled-up bath towels.
8. Get an app that can track each baby’s feeding routine (which breast they fed from, when and for how long) and number of wet and dirty nappies (essential in the first weeks, as this will inform you if your babies are feeding enough).
9. Stay very well hydrated. Your hydration not only affects your recovery and well-being, but also your milk supply. So, find extra long straws, non-spill drink containers, or even a water or hydration backpack that you can rest behind you over the sofa/chair, and drink whilst your babies feed.
What to eat when breastfeeding twins and does breastfeeding twins burn more calories?
10. Eat a nutritious diet. Exclusive breastfeeding means you’ll be using 300-500 extra calories per baby per day! It also means that you’ll need extra nutrients. So, aim to have a varied diet full of fresh ingredients. And, when snacking during a breastfeed, try things like bananas, dried fruit and snack bars that won’t crumble when you bite into them – you don’t want crumbs in your babies’ ears!
Is breastfeeding twins hard?
11. Expect it to be hard at first but know that it will get easier as your babies grow. Being realistic is important and can help you to stay grounded but knowing that the harder times are temporary and will pass will give you something to work for.
12. Set yourself small goals. Perhaps start by setting out to make it for one or two months and then, another one or two more. This can help take the pressure off and make it seem more doable.
Choosing to breastfeed your twins is a gift that will bring immediate and far-reaching physical and emotional benefits for your babies and for you. Arm yourself with support and be prepared to mostly sit and feed your babies for the first few weeks. Remember to look after yourself, and take it one day at a time. My colleagues and I at My Expert Midwife are rooting for you.
Article by Malena Monteverde at My Expert Midwife.
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