Breastfeeding twins or multiples
Twins and multiples
It can be a pleasant surprise to discover that you’re having twins, and it may be that you are expecting more than two babies!
However, you may also be feeling quite daunted at the prospect of breastfeeding, and a lot of mothers worry about whether they will be able to make all the milk their babies will need. The great news is that many mothers have breastfed their babies and made ALL the milk that was needed.
Case studies and research show mothers who have produced all the milk required for even quadruplets as well! Breasts are geared to make as much milk as needed!!
The great thing is that there is a lot more understanding now about how breast milk is made and how to get milk supply established in the early weeks after giving birth.
So whether you are feeding for one, two, three babies, or more (!), we know that your body can provide the necessary milk. Consequently, many mothers who are expecting multiples are reaching their goals with breastfeeding.
If you do want to breastfeed your babies, 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.
To aid you in advance of the birth of your babies, organize practical help.
Arrange it so that your friends and family will be able to rally round and help you with practical things, enabling you to concentrate on getting feeding established and getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
Consider getting support from health professionals too. If you can, organize this support before you have given birth as well as afterward, and seek out skilled lactation support where necessary.
It may 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 helpful and encouraging.
When you do start breastfeeding, take the lead from your babies. Look for their feeding cues, bring them to the breast as often as they need, and allow them to build up your supply and get all the milk they want.
Learn the signs that will help you to know that they are getting enough milk.
You may find that one or more of the babies are not latching well at the breast in the early hours, days, or even weeks. It may be that they are separated from you for a little while, and so not always able to be with you. Even in that situation, it’s still possible to go forward.
The most important thing is to protect your supply.
Seek out skilled support and, if possible, rent a hospital-grade double pump to get your milk supply established easier and faster.
Your babies will then be able to have your milk, even while they’re working on the attachment issues.
To boost the hormones involved in milk production, lots of skin-to-skin is paramount – at least two hours a day if you can.
Look at the information around positioning for babies at the breast, because you need to feel comfortable when you’re feeding.
Lots of breastfeeding mothers that I’ve supported who have breastfed twins have found that in the early days, they have initially let each baby feed separately at the breast, just until they both get well established.
Later on, when they feel more confident, they try positions where they can have both babies feeding at the same time. Some women, from the outset, feed both together.
Be reassured 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 offer the fullest breast to the hungriest baby, being flexible from feed to feed.
Some mothers only offer one breast per baby; some will offer one particular breast for a whole day to one specific baby and then swap over.
There are no specific rules, but it can be useful to swap over breasts at some point if one of your babies is not feeding as efficiently.
This will allow the hungrier baby or the baby who is feeding more efficiently, to boost the supply, and to help the other one out!
Some women who want to keep a log of every aspect of the feedings at the breast e.g., how long each baby feeds, what’s come out of their nappies, etc., and say that this tactic helped them to feel more in control!
Other women won’t have a log in sight! Again, there is much flexibility, and remember that any amount of breast milk is good for your babies.
Some mothers decide after a while to do partial feeding, where babies are fed at the breast but also offered formula – combination feeding.
If feeding is going well, try to get breastfeeding established first with lots of frequent feeding and/or expressing to give you the flexibility you need later on, which can take up to six weeks.
Partial feeding, where you provide some of your breast milk and some formula, can go on indefinitely – for years, if necessary.
So there is as much flexibility as you want and remember that every drop of milk is valuable.
Review dates, references & further resources
Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022
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