Having more than one baby may seem very daunting when it comes to breastfeeding. Many persons also believe that it is not possible. You might be surprised by how many mothers exclusively breastfeed their twins and, with higher order multiples becoming more commonplace, even mothers with triplets or more have great success with nursing their babies. All mothers can breastfeed more than one infant provided they have the right information, family, and community support.
Breastfeeding Has So Many Benefits: Breastfeeding Multiples Is Worth It
The numerous benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable. For multiples, who are often at a developmental disadvantage due to low birth weight or prematurity, being breastfed can give them a wonderful boost. Consider the following benefits:
- Nursing aids jaw, teeth, and facial development.
- Antibodies in breast milk protect infants from illness.
- Breastfed babies have fewer allergies.
- Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections.
- Studies have shown that breastfed babies have higher IQs.
- Some studies suggest that breastfed babies grow up to have less incidence of obesity and hypertension.
- The close contact between mother and babies while nursing enhances bonding and helps the babies feel secure.
Breastfeeding also benefits the mother in several ways. For example:
- Nursing after childbirth increases the level of oxytocin in the mother, stimulating the uterus to return to normal more quickly.
- Mothers who breastfeed generally lose weight more rapidly.
- There is some evidence to suggest that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risks of certain cancers.
Best Positions for Tandem Breastfeeding?
To find your best arrangement you will need to experiment and to try a variety of pillows (including a U-shaped nursing pillow). The positioning that works best is likely to change as your baby grows. Following are some options to consider:
- Initially, semi-reclining (with pillows behind your back) may be easier than sitting or lying flat.
- Double-cradle: both children in cradle position, with newborn’s legs resting on toddler.
- Double-football: toddler can have his/her head on a nursing pillow and body stretching away on the couch; alternatively, your toddler can be sitting next to you with knees away from you.
- Various combinations with one child in cradle position & one child in football hold.
- Try side-lying with the newborn on the bed; you can then have your toddler perch on your side, or kneel behind you and dip his head down (pop-over nursing position).
- Lying on your back: you can prop a child on each side with a pillow supporting their bodies.
Simultaneous nursing can be hard to coordinate at first, and for some women it triggers a strong agitation. It may get easier as your baby gets older and more used to nursing, and as your toddler gets used to the baby.
Breastfeeding multiples Promotes Bonding with Your Babies
Learning you are pregnant with twins, triplets or more changes your expectations and plans. But your decision to breastfeed doesn’t have to change. Mother’s milk is especially important for multiples, who are often small at birth and need all the health benefits it provides. Breastfeeding also helps you create a special bond with each of your babies. Many mothers have nursed their multiples; you can enjoy nurturing your babies this way, too. I could imagine the wonder of the news that you are pregnant with multiples. I have asked some women what was their reaction to the news. Some of them laughed with disbelief while others cried.
A healthy diet with plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats will get you all off to a good start. Gaining healthy amounts of weight during pregnancy is good for your babies’ birth weights and may also help prevent premature birth. Even with good care, you might experience complications during pregnancy so it helps to be prepared. Ask your midwife for information on warning signs for premature labour. Seek medical attention quickly if any occur, or you have any of these symptoms: a severe headache or stomach ache, see spots in front of your eyes, or feel extremely irritable or tense.
Planning Ahead Is Essential For Success
Limit visitors while in hospital and in the early days to those you feel comfortable breastfeeding in front of. When nursing two babies at once, you may feel exposed, at least until you can manage both babies and keeping your breasts covered. Tell friends and family you need time to recover and suggest they visit later, or drop round a meal!
Separation Should Not Stop Breastfeeding: Skin To Skin Away
Any separation after birth may make breastfeeding harder, but it’s still possible. Hold, or at least touch, your babies immediately after the birth or as soon as you can. You can still touch and stroke a baby in special care and may be able to hold him against you in ‘kangaroo mother care’. If he can’t breastfeed, express your milk for him.
This is the most important thing you can do whilst you are waiting to start breastfeeding. When you are back together, spend as much time as possible snuggling together skin-to-skin or lightly dressed to establish breastfeeding. If you need to express your milk because one or both babies can’t nurse, hand expression is useful in the first few days.
Express Milk from Breasts Regularly
Plan to express from both breasts at least eight times in 24 hours, about every two to three hours during the day and at least once during the night. As your milk increases, you can switch to a hospital grade automatic electric pump.
Once breastfeeding is established, most mothers of multiples find nursing two at once is easiest and it saves time to co-ordinate feeds. Biological Nurturing™ positions can leave your hands free.
Breastfeeding at night lying down gives you more rest. It gets easier as your babies grow. In the meantime, use enough pillows to recline in bed and feed two babies at once. Keep a drink and snack handy plus books or music to pass the time.
Can I Make Enough Milk For My Multiples?
Oh yes you can Mama! The more milk your babies take, the more your breasts will make. This is especially important in the first few weeks. Since mothers of multiples usually experience more breast development during pregnancy, mothers of twins can almost always produce enough milk for both babies, and triplets can also be totally breastfed.
Encourage each baby to feed at least 8–10 times in 24 hours. If one of your babies is too sleepy or groggy to rouse himself every few hours, you will need to wake him to feed to ensure he gets enough milk. See our page Sleepy Baby—why and what to do. At first you may feel you are doing nothing but feeding, but things will settle down as your babies grow and your milk production adjusts. Practical help with everything else will allow you to sit or lie down and concentrate on the important job of establishing breastfeeding.
Take Good Care Of Yourself
- You’ll be busy looking after your babies but don’t forget to look after yourself too. Try to eat a balanced diet and drink enough. Get as much rest as possible, and sleep whenever your babies sleep.
- Looking after your babies will be a full-time job for quite a while so expect to do only the absolute minimum of housework.
- Others will offer help with housework or entertaining older children—do accept and make an effort to ask for help when you need it! Have a list of simple tasks ready to make it easier when people do offer help and you could share information from our pageSupporting a Breastfeeding Mother.
- Your partner or support person will have a crucial role both practically and emotionally. Because they are needed so much, non-gestational parents of multiples have the opportunity to quickly develop close relationships with their babies. Other family members may also enjoy the chance to be practically involved. Take moments to appreciate this special time and be proud that you can nourish and nurture two or more little human beings at once!
Get As Much Help As Possible: Use Available Resources
Other sources of practical help
- Midwives, health visitors, clinics
- Homestart – a charity which offers support and friendship to families who are struggling to cope for a variety of reasons.
- Local college students studying child development or members of local community groups.
What About Travelling In The Car?
It can be challenging leaving the house with more than one baby. Start by going out briefly with someone else to help. It should get easier and easier as you continue to practice.
- Keep a changing bag packed and ready. A backpack leaves your hands free.
- Keep valuables and keys safe to hand in a waist pack or small bag across your chest.
- Consider using a sling or carrier for one baby even when out with a pushchair. A double pushchair can be useful for carrying shopping too.
- Alternate which baby gets carried: it’s easy to overlook a quieter baby’s need for closeness if one fusses more when out and about.
- Think about suitable places for feeding ahead of time. Look out for your babies’ early feeding cues so you can offer a feed before they start to fuss and attract attention from others.
Get to know your babies: with time, you will come to know your babies as individuals. Take opportunities to give them a little undivided attention: feeding, nappy changes etc. A few minutes here and there all add up. Their personalities will soon show through.
Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK is a charity providing breastfeeding information and support run by breastfeeding counsellors.
If properly planned, breastfeeding multiples can be easy and less challenging. Nursing after birth actually increases your milk production. Traveling can be challenging but you can seek help and use your available resources. Taking care of yourself is necessary to taking care of your multiples. Make expression of milk a common practice. Aim for at least 8 times per day. Breastfeeding your multiples promotes bonding. Finding the best positions that meets your needs and preferences is paramount in making it easier for you and your multiples. Thank you for stopping by today nd do visit again. If you are a parent of multiples share in the comment how you are coping.