Mothers are overwhelmed by the thought of breastfeeding twins. After all, they have heard of how difficult it is to even breastfeed one child! Could this possibly be double the challenge? Can a mother successfully breastfeed her pair of twins exclusively?
It is possible to breastfeed twins!
One of the most important rules is to remember that demand = supply.
In the first few weeks after delivery, it is important that you latch on both your twins as often as you can. The more you latch your babies on, the more likely the body will produce more milk. You can choose to latch 1 baby one after another, or simultaneously. Fatigue may set in and it is okay to skip a feeding and have someone else take over with a bottle. The hard work will surely be worth it. Once you are able to latch both twins on together, your feeding time will essentially be the same as mother breastfeeding one baby!
What positions can I adopt?
In the early weeks when sleep was a big privilege, I’d breastfeed one of the twins while lying on my side. My confinement lady would help to switch the babies, and this job was taken over by my husband. During the day I would sought the help of my double breastfeeding pillow which allowed me to breastfeed both babies at the same time. This saved me a lot of time and I could squeeze in some extra rest.
The best position to breastfeed twins is the football hold. It is ideal in the early days as most moms would deliver their twins by a Caesarian section. The football hold allows both twins to be fed together which putting pressure on the mother’s wound.
Should I allocate sides?
To prevent the problem of lopsidedness, it is important that the twins feed on alternate sides during each feeding session. If you started twin A on the left, start on the right side at the next feed. If there is a need to latch on a baby on both sides, go ahead and do it because demand = supply. Your body will take these cues and produce more milk, so do not worry as long as you are regularly latching them on.
Should I store my milk?
Some mothers take it to another level by pumping out excess milk after feeding their twins. If mom feels tired, daddy can simply warm up a bottle of expressed breast milk and offer it to the babies. In this case, a double electric breast pump will be a life saver as it can save up a lot of time by simultaneously expressing milk from both breasts.
The Guilt Trip
Many mothers feel guilty when they are unable to breastfeed their babies exclusively. Remember that some breast milk is always better than none, so if you need to supplement with formula, it is okay! Know that you are giving your baby the best for as long as you can. If you feel a strong need to increase your milk supply, seek a lactating consultant or your OBGYN for tips or medication to promote lactation.
Some mothers also feel inferior when they have issues such as inverted nipples, so use a breast pump to extract the nipple before latching on. Many mothers I personally know who have inverted nipples have successfully breastfed their babies for more than a year!
Successful breastfeeding twins or a single baby can also be influenced by the support of the father. Get your husband to help you by carrying the babies from their cribs to you, or to help position the pillows to support the babies. Fathers are usually more successful in offering a bottle when mommy is too tired to feed.
Fathers also play supportive roles in encouraging mothers to persevere in the early weeks. Remind your wife that the hard work will eventually pay off, and it is alright to skip a feed if she feels tired. I would not have survived the early months of breastfeeding my twins in the wee hours of the morning if not for the support of my husband!
Take Advantage of Help!
While at the hospital seek the advice of a lactating consultant and the nurses to help you get the right latch and breastfeeding positions. If possible, write a list of questions that you wish to ask and bring it along when you head to the hospital to deliver your babies. It is possible to successfully breastfeed twins. It can be more challenging than breastfeeding one baby, but get the basic rule of demand = supply and it is already half the battle won.