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When you first find out you’re having twins, tons of questions flood your brain, most of which start with How. Like: How will I feed two babies?! There’s no sugar coating it: raising twins is hard work. But if breastfeeding is your goal, it’s important to know that it’s totally possible to nurse twins. Read on for expert tips on nursing twins.
Tip #1: Get Educated
Twin pregnancy takes a lot out of you. Learn everything you can about breastfeeding early on in your pregnancy, before exhaustion kicks in (early on in the second trimester is the sweet spot for most moms). Make sure to include your partner if you have one, so you two can be on the same page with your feeding goals once babies arrive.
Here are some great ways to learn about breastfeeding:
- Read books on nursing twins
- Take an online or in-person class
- Attend breastfeeding groups like La Leche League
- Schedule a consultation with a lactation professional
- Talk to experienced nursing moms you trust
Tip #2: Get Support
Becoming a twin parent is humbling, because you skip right past the part when you think you can do it alone. Modern parents have to intentionally build their support team. Choose family and close friends that you can trust 100% to support your choices. In the early days (read: weeks, months) breastfeeding your twins will be a full time job. That means that you’ll need to outsource, delegate, and automate as much as possible to people you trust, like housework, pet care, older sibling care, grocery shopping, etc.
Hiring professional postpartum support is highly recommended, especially for parents of multiples. Postpartum doulas and Newborn Care Specialists provide you with invaluable educational, emotional, and physical support. They can help with newborn care, light meal prep and household tasks, and more. Overnight newborn care can help you catch up on the rest you desperately need to function as a parent of multiples. Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists make all the difference in your initial experience of twin parenthood.
Finally, for successfully nursing twins, line up professional lactation support before you give birth. You will be very thankful that you have already met and formed a relationship with a lactation professional once your babies are born. When you find a lactation professional that you click with, make sure to post her business card on your fridge so that you or anyone on your support team can easily reach out to her if/when needed once the babies arrive.
Tip #3: Get Nourished
Breastfeeding twins can take an extra 1,000+ calories per day! That’s a ton of food, but the good news is, you’ll finally have the stomach space back after pregnancy to fit it in – without the heartburn. Focus on nutrient dense, high-protein meals and snacks. Lots of nursing twin moms find that they need a middle of the night protein snack, like a handful of almonds.
Breastmilk is 90% water, so you’ll need to prioritize staying hydrated. Invest in a couple good water bottles, preferably with a straw so that you can sip from multiple angles or with a helper holding the bottle when your hands are full. Your partner or main support person’s job is to make sure that water bottle is never empty. Drink to thirst, and always keep water within reach, day and night.
Tip #4: Get Comfortable
Once your babies are finally in your arms, the first step to nursing is to get comfortable. You are going to be spending many hours a day breastfeeding, so it’s absolutely essential that you are kind to your body during the process. At the hospital, take advantage of the easily adjustable bed. Ask your nurse for extra pillows to support your arms so that your shoulders don’t become strained. Invest in a couple different nursing pillows, like one for singletons and another for twins, so that you have options. Bring them to the hospital so you can have the on-staff IBCLCs help you learn to use them, and to learn different nursing positions.
Most lactation professionals recommend learning to nurse one baby at a time, at first. Latch one on, make sure the latch isn’t painful, and spend a few moments observing your baby’s eating pattern and behavior. Once they are settled, have a helper bring you the second twin to latch on. In time, this process will become quicker and easier, and you will be able to instantly latch both at the same time. But at first, it’s important to take your time so that a) you don’t accidentally ignore a bad/painful latch while distracted with the other twin and b) you get to know each baby and how they nurse in different positions and environments.
Once you’re home, get comfortable in your postpartum “nest”. Make sure everything you need is within reach: water, snacks, burp cloths, diapers, phone charger, etc. Have a bouncy seat or other safe place to place a baby down close by. Before you know it, you’ll be juggling babies like a pro: burping one while nursing the other, changing two diapers at once, and tandem feeding in multiple positions.
Tip #5: Get on a Schedule
Twin parents survive with schedules. Without one, you could easily end up with babies on opposite schedules and therefore spend 24/7 nursing (and no matter how hard you try, you will still have days like this – so plan ahead with freezer meals and good movies!). If you have absolutely amazing, around the clock support, this might generally work for you to focus on one baby at a time. But you still need time to eat, shower, and generally be a human, so it’s highly recommended to get your babies on the same schedule as soon as possible. When one needs to eat, feed both. When one needs a nap, put both down. There will be lots of trial and error, and a Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula will be an invaluable resource to help you get your twins into a good rhythm.
Also, when your twins end up NOT on the same schedule, don’t beat yourself up. This is where good support is key, so that you don’t feel instantly and totally overwhelmed. When you have a team to keep you fed and your house in some semblance of order, you can relax into those chaotic days with your newborn twins and appreciate the rare one-on-one time you get when they are on opposite feeding/napping schedules.
Tip #6: Get Flexible
Twin parenting forces you to become flexible with your parenting options. It’s important to periodically check in with yourself and your partner to make sure you’re feeling good about where you’re at. What’s working for you? How can you make twin parenting a bit easier? Maybe that’s adding in a pumping session so you can sleep a long stretch at the beginning of the night, or introducing donor milk or formula at bedtime. Nursing twins isn’t an all-or-nothing option. You have to do what works for your family. That could mean exclusively nursing while your partner takes over all diaper changes, pumping and sharing bottle duty, or even nursing one twin and bottle feeding the other. Stay flexible, trust that the tough seasons will pass, and try to keep a positive attitude. If there’s one absolute necessary ingredient for raising twins, it’s a sense of humor!