As I mentioned in the previous unit's presentation, we twin moms need to be flexible with our options. You may have well-meaning goals, but circumstances can change them quickly.
I exclusively breastfed my eldest and expected to do
the same with the twins. But even from the hospital, baby B was underweight. We were even running the risk of him
having to stay at the NICU until he could pack on some pounds. Without
hesitation, I chose to supplement with formula, knowing it would help him gain the
weight he needed.
And thankfully he did.
For the first few months, I mostly breastfed the twins,
but I also offered Baby B formula from time to time. And when I came
down with thrush, I increased formula for both of them for about 50% of their bottles..
Other moms might have imagined nursing from
day one. But an unexpected complication with feeding means they're
pumping breast milk instead.
Or they may have made up their minds to bottle-feed, but at the last minute decide to try breastfeeding. Anything
can change with twins.
If you think breastfeeding twins seems daunting, you're not alone.
Many have expressed how they want to breastfeed while admitting they're
not sure how.
In this lesson, we'll talk about breastfeeding and pumping
for twins. You'll learn about:
Many of the challenges with breastfeeding starts in the first few
days. We're still learning how to latch, and our milk
still hasn't come in. We're emotional from welcoming twins. And we're faced with the initial discomfort of breastfeeding.
What can you expect in the first few days so you can better prepare?
Little did I know that a body wouldn't produce typical breast milk
for the first few days. Instead, your body will produce colostrum, a
yellow-colored type of milk. A few facts about colostrum
Toward the third or fourth day after giving birth, you might start panicking. Why isn't my milk coming in?! It's easy to feel helpless especially if you're doing all you can to help your twins gain weight.
But don't worry—it'll come in eventually. Your babies need the colostrum, so the days of not having regular breast milk are totally normal.
Your body will begin producing regular breast milk when your breasts feel engorged. You'll notice that the milk you express will look white and more liquid.
And remember how your breasts grew a cup size (or two) when you were pregnant? Expect it grow another cup size when you're breastfeeding.
Another strange thing about breast milk is that it comes in two stages. When your twins begin a feeding session, the milk that comes out is called fore milk. It's lighter in color and has lower fat. After several minutes, the hind milk kicks in, which is creamier, whiter and higher in fat.
Fore milk quenches your twins' thirst, while hind milk provides necessary nutrients. If you pump, you'll notice the bottles fill up with a lighter fore milk before the hind milk comes.
When you nurse your twins, try to have them drain each breast so they get both fore milk and hind milk.
Confession time: I struggled with breastfeeding the first month, and that was with my eldest, not my twins. It hurt, I got blisters, and I was ready to quit each day.
Even with the correct latch, you might still feel discomfort during the first days. But after a while, your nipples "toughen up." You feel more confident, and you're better able to latch the twins much better.
The strange thing? When I breastfed my twins, I felt zero pain. Just when I was anticipating another round of pain and discomfort, I felt none. Almost like I picked up right where I left off with my eldest. My body wasn't any different than when I first tried breastfeeding my eldest.
So even if you hear from others about their initial pain, it's not guaranteed you'll feel any of it.
I mentioned many times the importance of latching your twins correctly, so how exactly do you do that? There are the most important pointers to remember when latching your twins:
Besides latching correctly, another skill I'd encourage you to learn
is tandem feeding. Nursing your twins at the same time will be one of
the biggest ways to save you time and hassle. But if the thought of
nursing two at the same time has you confused, don't worry. We'll walk
through the exact process of how to set this up.
start, I suggest you get a nursing pillow before your twins arrive.
Then, bring this with you to the hospital so you can start on the right
I made the mistake of assuming I wouldn't need one. Or that I'd rely on regular sleeping pillows. A nursing pillow makes a huge difference. I used the My Brest Friend pillow for twins. I loved how sturdy the pillow was. Once my twins were a little older and I more confident, I could nurse them hands-free.
Another fantastic twin pillow other moms recommend is the Twin Z pillow.
The texture is softer, so this can also double as a resting pillow when
you alternate burping. The Twin Z pillow is also useful if you plan to
bottle-feed as well, and it offers back support.
A typical tandem feeding position includes you sitting cross-legged
on your bed or couch. You'd wear your nursing pillow around your waste.
Each twin would be in a football hold—their heads are towards your
breasts and their feet are to your back. Here's an example:
So, how do you get two babies to do that?
In the first few days or weeks, try to have someone help you with tandem nursing. It can be overwhelming to manage on your own, so get your partner or family to help you nurse.
In that case, you'd sit with your nursing pillow, and someone can hand each baby to you.
Burping two babies can be tricky. If another adult is with you, ask
them to burp one baby while you hold the other. During the early weeks,
you might have people visiting who can help. Your partner can burp one
baby after middle of the night feedings.
But if you're alone,
you can still burp both twins after tandem feeding:
At this point, you could either:
What you want to avoid is laying your babies flat on their backs after they just ate.
When I first breastfed my babies, I chose to nurse one at a time. I tried tandem nursing once at the hospital and felt too scared to do it again.
But here's a word of encouragement
I wish I told myself.
Even if it feels awkward, try tandem feeding at
least once a day.
Choose the best time when you're not sleep deprived to practice
(basically, not the middle of the night). And do it when someone can help. The
quicker you can master tandem feeding, even for newborns, the more time
Many moms who breastfeed also pump breast milk. Some return to work and would still like to be able to provide their twins with breast milk. Others need a meaningful break from the baby, and pumping allows others to feed the baby in the meantime. Some might want to pump if their babies are in the NICU. And still others pump to increase supply (more on that below).
What are some of the best practices for pumping?
A few moms choose to exclusively pump to give their babies breast
milk without nursing on the breast. The most common reason is pain.
Either the baby can't latch, or the pain is just too much for mom to
I know several moms who chose this route, and they'll
admit it's not an easy one. Exclusively pumping seems like an option if
you feel scared or awkward about breastfeeding. But pumping all the time
is a hassle and a huge time suck.
Not only do you need to
take time away to pump, you also need to then spend more time feeding
the pumped milk to your babies. Even if you pump and your partner feeds,
that's still double the time than if you nurse directly.
This is true for any pumping scenario, such as pumping so you can get
a break. You put in twice the effort (pumping and bottle-feeding) for
the same result (getting your twins fed). So you can imagine how much
more time consuming exclusively pumping can be.
If you decide
to exclusively pump, remind yourself the reasons you're doing it to stay motivated. Also,
allow yourself the kind of lifestyle where you can take your time. Maybe this is
leading a less harried life, or having someone bottle feed or be with
the twins while you pump.
Once you've got breastfeeding going, the next question is, How can I keep my supply up?
This can be frustrating if you're not producing a lot, or would like to
produce more than the amount you curerntly are. You might even want to build
a large supply of milk before going back to work.
What are some ways to increase and keep your supply up?
By far, a well-balanced diet and drinking enough water will help keep your supply up. Make sure you're consuming at least 1,000 extra calories a day—500 for each baby.
just as you did when you were pregnant, drink plenty of water. You are
what you eat, after all, including your breast milk. Your body can't
produce if you're not consuming enough.
Increase your supply by tricking your body into producing more through pumping. A few ideas that have worked for many twin moms:
As with anything in parenthood, keep a healthy balance of your goals with your needs. Unless you have a specific goal in mind (building up x amount of ounces before work), don't force yourself to pump when you don't have to. You'll feel better rested, happier and healthier with extra sleep than extra ounces.
Next, we'll talk about formula-feeding and bottle-feeding. We touched on bottle-feeding a little in this section when we talked about pumping. Let's dive into how to best feed your babies with bottles.