If you’ve decided to breast-feed your multiples, congratulations! Breast-feeding will provide many benefits for you and your babies. Still, breast-feeding more than one baby can be challenging. Understand how to get started and where to turn for support.
Breastfeeding one baby burns up to an additional 500 calories per day. That means when you’re nursing twins, you’ll burn roughly 1,000 calories every day.
What else do I need to know about breast-feeding twins or higher order multiples?
If you’re a mom of twins, breastfeeding can be doubly challenging at first: After all, you’ve got two mouths to feed, two little bodies to balance, and three people who need to figure out this whole breastfeeding thing. Of course the many benefits of breastfeeding make it well worth the effort. Once you’ve fallen into the rhythm of nursing your babies (and you will!), you’ll find it’s not only possible but convenient (you won’t have bottles to wash) and doubly rewarding. Here’s how to set yourself up for success when you’re breastfeeding twins.
Do double the mouths to feed mean double the feeding trouble? Not necessarily. Here’s what you need to know to set yourself up for breastfeeding success.
At first, you might want help positioning your babies. Enlist someone to help you get situated until you get the hang of simultaneous feedings. Consider latching first the baby who tends to need more help getting started.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your babies are 6 months old and continued breastfeeding to at least age 1. But when you’re breastfeeding twins, this recommendation can be hard to follow. That’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t exclusively breastfeed your twins for six months…or even two or three. Supplementing with formula can actually help you breastfeed for longer. However since supplementing can decrease your milk supply due to a lack of demand, aim to pump regularly.
Alternatively, place both babies — head to head — on pillows directly in front of you. Be sure to keep your babies’ bodies turned toward you, rather than facing up. Use your palms to support each baby’s head.
Beyond the health benefits for your newborns, breast-feeding is likely the most convenient and least expensive way to feed your babies — and it might help you lose weight after you give birth. Breast-feeding twins or other multiples also ensures frequent interaction between you and each of your babies.
Most women are able to produce enough milk to feed twins. Many women are also able to breast-feed or pump enough breast milk to feed higher order multiples. To ensure a steady milk supply, consider these tips:
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Be patient with yourself and your babies as you experience the challenges and rewards of breast-feeding two or more newborns. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re breastfeeding twins, nursing frequently keeps your supply up. But if you’re feeding on demand and still having trouble with your milk supply, regular stimulation from a pump one will help. Since most of your milk comes in the first five minutes, multiple short sessions each day boost your supply better than fewer longer sessions. Aim for a schedule of about four times a day in addition to nursing your babies. An electric double pump will become your new best friend—especially since it can help you get precious extra hours of sleep while someone else uses your milk to feed your babies.
However, some mothers choose to combine breast-feeding and formula-feeding. For example, you might replace one or more breast-feeding sessions with a formula-feeding. Work with your doctor, your baby’s doctor and a lactation consultant to determine what works best for you and your babies. If you give your babies formula, keep in mind that your milk production might begin to decrease if you breast-feed or pump less than eight to 10 times within 24 hours.
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To keep fueled, stick to a sensible, balanced breastfeeding diet and drink lots of water. You’ll also need an extra calcium serving for that extra baby for a total of six (though you can also tap into a calcium supplement to help reach that goal).
When you start breast-feeding your babies, feed each one individually. This will give you a chance to see how well each baby latches on to your breast and address any issues. Consider creating a 24-hour chart to record how long and how often each baby nurses, as well as the number of wet and soiled diapers for each baby. If you feed your babies pumped breast milk, record how much they take at each feeding.
There are several ways to breast-feed two babies at the same time. What’s most important is choosing a position that feels good to you and your babies and enables a correct and comfortable latch.
Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients for your babies. The antibodies in breast milk will boost your babies’ immune systems. Breast milk also has special benefits for babies who are born prematurely, as are many twins and higher order multiples. Breast milk is easier to digest than is commercial infant formula — especially for premature babies who have smaller, less mature stomachs and intestines. If your babies aren’t able to nurse at first, you can pump breast milk to be given to your babies through a feeding tube.
What positions can I use to breast-feed my babies at the same time?
Producing enough milk for two babies: How to increase your supply
Remember to always bring your babies to your breast — rather than bending over or leaning forward to bring your breast to your babies.
What are the benefits of breast-feeding twins or higher order multiples?
Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended. Once breastfeeding is established and if you have chosen to do an occasional bottle, expressed breast milk would be the best choice so that formula could be avoided or delayed.
Once you’ve established breast-feeding with each baby, how you breast-feed is up to you and your babies. Some mothers find that breast-feeding two babies at once works well and saves time. Others prefer to breast-feed each baby separately. Likewise, some babies might show a preference for individual feedings. Try different approaches or a combination — such as breast-feeding one baby at a time at night and two at the same time during the day — to see what might work best.
Planning to breast-feed more than one baby? Here’s help breast-feeding twins or other multiples, from getting positioned and ensuring an adequate milk supply to combining breast-feeding and formula-feeding.
ART-20044417 Healthy Lifestyle Infant and toddler health In-Depth Breast feeding twins Making feedings manageable
Getting help breastfeeding your twinsMany moms struggle at first with nursing twins, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your pediatrician, a lactation consultant and/or a doula who has experience with multiples can offer support.
Keep in mind that the Affordable Care Act guarantees that your health insurance should cover breastfeeding assistance from a professional at no cost to you. Also invaluable: advice from other moms of multiples who are breastfeeding.
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Doing so much feeding and burning so many calories means you’ll also have to do more eating. To keep fueled when you’re breastfeeding twins, you’ll need 400 to 500 calories above your pre-pregnancy needs for each baby—or roughly 1,000 additional daily calories total. You may need to increase your caloric intake as your babies grow bigger and hungrier. Or you may need to decrease your count if you supplement nursing with formula and/or solids, or if you have considerable fat reserves you’d like to burn.
Cradle-clutch combination. In this position, you’ll hold one baby in the cradle position — with his or her head on your forearm and his or her whole body facing yours — and the other baby in the clutch position.
If one of your babies has an easier time latching on to your breast or staying latched, place him or her in the cradle position. Double-cradle hold. To use the double-cradle position, you’ll place both of your babies in the cradle position in front of you.
Position your babies so that their legs overlap and make an X across your lap.
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Consider a nursing pillow. One designed especially for twins can make it easier to position your babies. Or you can use two regular pillows or rolled-up towels.Get set up. When you’re first getting started, position the pillow and have someone hand you each baby, latching on one at a time.
If you’re alone, set yourself up on the floor in front of the couch (with lots of pillows). Put the babies in their bouncy seats on either side of where you’ll be sitting. Fasten the pillow around your waist and position the babies one at a time onto the pillow, then latch.
Find the right nursing position. Try positioning both babies in the football or the cradle holds, using the pillow to support their heads. Or combine the cradle hold and the football hold, again using the pillow for support.
Experiment until both you and your babies are comfortable.Alternate breasts. Remember to switch breasts for each baby at each feeding (or at least every switch sides every day) so both breasts are stimulated equally.
Nursing triplets (or more). If you’ve got three or more babies to feed, nurse two at a time, then nurse the third baby afterward, remembering to switch which baby gets solo sucking time.Do what works for you.
Don’t worry if tandem nursing isn’t right for you, even with practice. You can either bottle-feed one baby (using pumped milk or formula, if you’re supplementing) while nursing the other (and then switch off), or nurse one after the other.
What’s important is to do what works for you and your babies.Focus on your latch. Breastfeeding more shouldn’t cause your nipples to be sore or cracked; soreness is usually caused by a poor latch (or, possibly, thrush).
So if your nipples are extra tender, try a lanolin cream to ease the pain and spend extra time working on your latch with each baby.How many calories does breastfeeding twins burn?
For the first few weeks, infants need to breastfeed eight to 12 times per day. That breaks down to about once every two to three hours, day and night. Each session should last about 20 to 30 minutes—but wait for each baby to signal he or she’s done before calling it quits (the suck-swallow pattern will slow down to about four sucks to one swallow).
Getting the hang of breast-feeding twins or other multiples can be difficult, but don’t get discouraged. If you’re struggling, meet with a lactation consultant who has experience with multiples. Ask your baby’s doctor for help. Talk to other women who successfully breast-fed multiples. Ask loved ones for assistance with household tasks and the care of older siblings — or consider hiring household help — so that you can focus on feeding and caring for your babies.
In the beginning, try nursing your twins on the same schedule. However keep in mind that even identical twins have different personalities, appetites and nursing patterns. So try to tune into the needs of each; one may need to nurse more frequently than the other. Some moms like to let the hungrier baby dictate the feeding schedule of both. Others feed on each baby’s demand during the day and stick to a schedule at night. Whatever you choose, just keep extra-careful records to make sure each baby is well fed at each feeding.
Since you’ve got two breasts and two mouths to feed, why not nurse them together, tandem-style? While you may want to start nursing your babies one at a time until they get the hang of latching on, once everyone’s comfortable nursing, an obvious advantage of tandem nursing is that you don’t have to spend all day and night nursing (first Baby A, then Baby B, and back to Baby A and so on). A few tips:
Start right after birth. Breast-feeding your newborns soon after birth and at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours will help you establish your milk supply. The more often you breast-feed, the more milk you’ll produce.
Pump. If your babies are born early and are unable to breast-feed right away, begin pumping shortly after you give birth to establish your milk supply. Hospital-grade, double electric breast pumps help stimulate milk production while cutting pumping time in half.
Once breast-feeding is well-established, pumping also allows other caregivers to help with feedings. Alternate breasts. Offering both breasts to each baby at each feeding and alternating the breast the feedings are started on, as well as which baby feeds first, might optimize your milk production and each baby’s feeding.
This is because each of your babies might have a different style of feeding. Switching breasts will also give your babies different views, which stimulates their eyes. Consider assigning each baby to one breast for a day and then switching the next day or giving each baby a different breast at each feeding.
Double-clutch or double-football hold. In this position, you’ll hold each baby in a clutch or football hold. Position a pillow on each side of your body and your lap. Place each baby on a pillow beside your body — almost under your arm — so that the babies’ legs point toward the back of your chair. Make sure each baby’s back is supported by the inside of your forearm. Use the pillows for arm support. Secure the babies’ bottoms with the insides of your elbows. Keep the babies’ heads at nipple level. Place the palm of one hand at the back of each baby’s head to provide support.