Breastfeeding twins or multiples
Twins and multiples - Transcript
It can be a really lovely surprise to discover that you’re having twins, and maybe that you’re having more than two babies – but I can understand you may be feeling quite daunted at the prospect of breastfeeding, and a lot of mothers worry about whether they’re going to be able to even make all the milk that is necessary.
The great news is that many, many breastfeeding mothers have gone on and made all the milk that’s needed for their babies and I do actually know a lady who breastfeed triplets successfully! There’s certainly evidence of ladies who managed to produce milk for quadruplets as well, so this is definitely possible. I think the reason for this is that we have so much more knowledge now around how breastfeeding works and how to get that milk supply established – whether it’s one baby, two babies or three babies (or more!), we know that your body is able to do that. Many, many mothers who are expecting multiples are reaching their goals with breastfeeding.
So, if you do want to breastfeed your babies, please be reassured that this is entirely possible, and learn as much as you can, in advance – how it all works, how to get it off to a good start, and make sure that the people who are going to be supporting you also have that knowledge as well.
One of the most important things at the beginning is to get that practical help, so that your friends and your family rally round and do what they need to do, so that you can actually sit there with your babies, working out positions that work better, and getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Make sure you also get support from health professionals, as well. Get that support in advance of having your babies as well as afterwards, and skilled lactation support where necessary.
It might be that your health professional can introduce you to other mums who have also breastfed their babies, because meeting with those mums and talking with them can be really, really helpful and encouraging.
So, when you do start breastfeeding your babies, just take the lead from them – look out for the feeding cues, bring them to the breast as often as is needed, and allow them to build up your supply and get all the milk that they want. It’s also important that you learn what the signs are that will help you to know that they are both getting enough milk, so have a look at the videos relating to that.
It might just be that you find that one baby, or two, or if you’ve got three babies, that none of them are latching well at the beginning, if at all. It might be that they’re separated from you for a little while, and so not always able to be with you. So, in that situation, it’s still possible to go forward – the most important thing is to protect your supply, seek out assistance so that you can use a hospital-grade double pump to get your milk supply established and your babies can have that milk while they’re working on the attachment issues.
Lots and lots of skin-to-skin, (wherever you get the chance!) will boost the hormones that make milk and keep your babies in a really good position for feeding and for thinking about learning to latch, and to practice at the breast, basically. So, lots of skin-to-skin is paramount, at least two hours a day if you can, and have a good look at the information around positioning for babies at the breast, because it’s paramount that you feel comfortable when you’re feeding.
Lots of ladies that I’ve worked alongside, who are breastfeeding twins for instance, have found that in the early days, they’ve been happier to let each baby feed separately at the breast, just until they both got well established and then they started looking at positions where they could have both the babies feeding together. Some women, from the outset, feed both – have a look at those videos about positioning, especially the ones relating to twins as well (and multiples).
I do want to reassure you that there are lots of ways to do things, lots of ways to feed babies at the breast when you have more than one. Some women will have no rules or regulations at all, and they will literally offer the fullest breast to the hungriest baby and it’ll be flexible from feed to feed. Some mothers only offer one breast per baby, some will maybe offer that one breast for a whole day to a particular baby and then swap over. There are really no particular rules, but it can be a great ‘rule of thumb’, that if one of your babies is not feeding as efficiently, it is actually good to swap over breasts at some point, to allow the hungrier baby or the baby who is feeding more efficiently, to boost that supply and to help the other one out!
I’ve also come across some women who want to keep a log of every aspect of the feeding; how long each baby is fed, what’s come out of their nappies etc., and they’ve actually felt that that’s helped them. Another lady will not have a log in sight! There is great flexibility and any amount of breast milk is good for your babies, so you can do partial feeding as well, if that is what you want to do.
I would suggest, certainly, where you can, in the early weeks, however, to get breastfeeding established first (those first four, five or six weeks) with a lot of frequent feeding and/or expressing, just so that you can then have the flexibility that you need later on. Partial feeding, where you would give some of your breast milk and some formula, can go on indefinitely – for years, if necessary.
So! There is great flexibility and remember that every drop of milk is good.
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V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020
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