Breastfeeding twins is not only possible, but a simple, cheap and convenient way to feed your babies. The key to success is being prepared before your babies are born, ignoring the naysayers (many people assume you won't breastfeed when they hear you are having twins), and surrounding yourself with people who support your decision.
Breastfeeding twins is different and can be more overwhelming than breastfeeding a single baby, so it's important to educate yourself about the unique challenges you may face. Here are some tips to help prepare you before your babies are born:
Attend a breastfeeding class in your area - Many hospitals offer breastfeeding classes for expectant mothers. These classes are geared toward providing you (and your partner if you choose) with information on the benefits of breastfeeding, techniques for successful breastfeeding and the various resources available if you are having problems. Often they will have life-size baby dolls on site so you can practice different breastfeeding positions. Make sure you let the instructor know that you're expecting twins so they can help you with any of your questions or concerns. If you hospital doesn't offer these classes, ask your doctor if they can recommend classes in your area. Your local Mothers of Twins group may also have ideas or resources.
Talk to other moms of twins who breastfed - Many local Mothers of Multiples or Mothers of Twins groups offer mentoring programs for new members. Join a group before your twins are born and ask to be put in touch with other mothers who have successfully breastfed twins. They can be a great source of information and support to you before and after your babies arrive.
Invest in a double breast pump - While you don't need to pump your breasts to build up your milk supply for twins (as you nurse your twins, your body will automatically supply you with enough milk based on demand), you may want to purchase a double breast pump to use for pumping and storing milk so your twins can be given a bottle if you want to go out or get some rest. You may also need to pump if your twins are premature and need to spend time in the hospital. And if you plan to continue breastfeeding when you return to work, a double breast pump is a necessity. Some hospitals and drug stores rent pumps if you don't want to invest the money up front.
Purchase a twin nursing pillow - Being comfortable and relaxed is essential if you're going to successfully breastfeed twins. Twin nursing pillows can help you easily breastfeed twins in your preferred positions, such as the football hold (along your sides), the cradle hold (across your chest) or a combination of both. If you don't want to purchase a twin nursing pillow, you can use Boppies, regular pillows or even rolled up towels to help you get comfortable.
Don't stress out about a feeding schedule - Most experts recommend demand feeding (feeding the babies when they want to be fed) early on for a successful breastfeeding experience. While it's probably most convenient to feed your babies together, sometimes twins end up on different feeding schedules based on their individual needs. Many moms of twins find keeping a feeding log for the first few months helpful to keep track of which baby was fed, at what time and how much.
Surround yourself with supportive people - Try to choose a doctor (and a pediatrician) who supports breastfeeding twins. Talk to your spouse or partner about your desire to breastfeed and let them know you'll need their help and support to be successful. Realize that there's a good chance that your mother and/or mother-in-law did not breastfeed their babies. Therefore, they may not get why you want to breastfeed and may even try to discourage you from doing it. Remember, ignore the naysayers. Talk to friends who have breastfed their babies successfully for encouragement and support.
Make a list of available resources - Again, your doctor or Mothers of Multiples groups can provide you with information and resources on breastfeeding twins in your area. You can also consult with a lactation consultant in your area. Many hospitals now have lactation consultants available to assist mothers with breastfeeding in the hospital. Find out if you can arrange for someone to be there following the babies' birth to help you get started. Some hospitals also offer daily breastfeeding clinics where nurses or lactation specialists are available to assist new moms who are having difficulty breastfeeding after they've gone home.
Don't be too hard on yourself - Your first few weeks with twins will be a joyful experience. It will also be exhausting (I remember thinking I would never sleep again). Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and don't be afraid to ask others to help pitch in with other household tasks and chores. You can't do everything yourself. If you are overwhelmed and decide not to continue breastfeeding, don't beat yourself up over it too much. Your babies will thrive from bottle feeding as well. It's important to decide what's best for you, not what everyone else thinks you should do.
Information about bottle feeding twins. . .
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Did you successfully breastfeed your twins (or more)? Share your experience and advice with expecting moms of twins. Did you try to breastfeed twins and it didn't work out? We welcome your stories as well. Expectant moms need to hear what could go wrong and that it's OK if it doesn't always work out.
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