Breastfeeding Twins – It Is Possible!
By Julia from Ask Mama Moe
For my first baby, nursing came naturally and we seemed to fit into a groove immediately after he was born. There were difficult times, sure, but the method seemed to just work. Nursing my twins, however, there was a learning curve with a lot of trial and error. Now that I look back on my nursing experience with my twins, there are some things I think every twin mama should know.
Scheduling is key – Putting them on a schedule happened without my control at the NICU because they were preemies and the nurses needed to help many babies at the same time. I had a schedule to nurse them when I was with them, and I pumped so they could have my breastmilk when I wasn’t there. When they finally both came home, scheduling their feeds became something we kept up.
I think one of the biggest feelings of guilt that twin mamas face is whether to schedule the feeds. It’s been said many times over to never wake a sleeping babe. It’s also been said many times to let your baby tell you when they are hungry. So, when faced with a crying hungry twin and a sleeping twin, what should you do? In my experience, it’s not mean to wake up the sleeping twin. With time, I came to understand, they were never far off from each other’s schedule and the other twin would wake shortly after and want to be fed anyway. Getting them on a schedule gives mom and dad a bit of sanity.
Football is your new favourite sport – A regular nursing pillow worked when I was feeding one baby, but was totally useless with twins. Because, yes, you can nurse two babies at once! It does get a little tricky to start them to nurse, but once everyone is comfortable, it is pretty much the same as nursing one. To get comfortable, a twin nursing pillow is a good investment. But I must admit they are not comfortable. Perhaps they have evolved with time since I had my babies, so looking into different pillow options is a good idea. The football hold is an excellent way to nurse twins because both babies have enough room to wriggles and stretch without getting in the other’s way.
Remember this is a high-intensity workout – I remember going into my fourth month of nursing my twins, I had a bit of a breakdown. My body was giving way on me and I had to be hospitalized. The truth of the matter was that I was not taking enough care of my body to nurse two babies. Nursing one baby burns approximately 500-700 calories extra daily. Which means, moms need to take in extra calories as well. But when you double the number of calories burned each day, it is important to also keep feeding your body with good food. Of course, with twin babies, you tend to forget to take care of yourself, but the reality is you are the one making sure everyone is healthy and well nourished, so you need to be too. Hydrating and sleeping when you can, are also key ingredients to making you strong enough to nurse your twins.
Burping is a two-person job – your partner plays an integral role in the nursing process when it comes to twins. No longer is burping the baby a choice. “Do you want to burp the baby?” becomes “Please burp twin number one while I burp twin number two.”. Lying a baby down after a feed lends itself to problems with reflux, gas, and spit up. My husband and I became the best team, and truthfully, it was a great time when the four of us where together. My husband and I would hold one of our twins after I nursed and we would talk to them and to each other while we rubbed their backs for a burp.
Where you feel comfortable – Nursing twins seems like a very difficult job, because it is. But it can also be very enjoyable and fulfilling both for you and the babies. The most important thing to remember is to make yourself feel comfortable. I felt very comfortable nursing my twins at home. But when we went anywhere I brought breastmilk in a bottle for both of them. Both experiences were good and special, because I made them into experiences I felt comfortable with. Nursing twins is possible and I consider it to be one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.