Breastfeeding Twins or Multiples
Choosing to breastfeed your babies has many benefits:
- It helps your uterus return to its original size faster.
- It releases hormones that relax you.
- It saves money and time. Your milk is available at the right temperature and whenever your babies are ready to feed.
- It ensures your babies get the best nutrition.
- It creates a unique bond between you and each of your babies.
Breast milk is beneficial for all babies, but it is especially beneficial to multiples, who are often small at birth and need all the advantages breast milk can provide. Mothers of multiples typically produce enough milk for all their babies.
When should I start breastfeeding?
Nurse as soon as possible and as often as your babies want to be nursed. This will cause your body to produce enough milk for all your babies. Work with a lactation consultant as soon as possible. It is important to assess each infant at the breast to make sure they can latch and feed.
If your babies were born prematurely and are unable to nurse, you can pump your breasts and freeze the milk until your babies are ready to feed at the breast. To make sure that your body makes enough milk, empty your breast at least 8–10 times in a 24-hour period. Ask a lactation specialist to help you choose an effective breast pump and for guidance in helping your babies latch on to and feed from the breast when they are ready.
Should I nurse my babies together?
It is up to you whether you nurse your babies together or separately. However, many mothers of multiples find that it is easier and time-saving to nurse two babies at the same time. Nursing babies together may also help establish your milk supply.
Nursing two babies at the same time can be tricky at first, but it often gets easier as the babies get older and more experienced at latching on to the breast. When nursing your babies together:
- Ask your nurse or lactation specialist to suggest tips on positioning. There are several positions and holds that make it easier to nurse more than one baby at a time.
- Try placing pillows under your arms and legs and under your babies for comfort. Use a nursing pillow specially designed for multiples.
- Switch your babies from one side to the other at alternate feedings. For example, if baby A feeds from the right breast and baby B feeds from the left breast, then at the next feeding baby A should take the left breast and baby B the right breast. This ensures that both breasts get equal amounts of stimulation. It also allows the stronger sucking baby to increase the milk supply for the baby whose suck is weaker.
What are some tips to increase my success?
- A good latch helps the babies empty the breasts. It also prevents sore nipples. If you are nursing babies together and one of the babies is having difficulty latching or sucking, try nursing that baby separately. That way you can give her or him your full attention.
- If you are nursing babies separately and one of the babies is having difficulty feeding, it may help to nurse that baby and his or her sibling together. The baby with the stronger or more effective suck will stimulate the mother’s milk to flow faster.
- Try not to give your babies bottles and pacifiers during the early weeks of breastfeeding. Avoiding these encourages effective sucking patterns and helps establish a good milk supply. You should not need supplemental feedings if you empty your breasts with each feeding.
- Keep track of each baby’s stools and wet diapers for the first 6 weeks to make sure each baby is getting enough milk. Signs that your babies are getting enough milk include:
- Wetting at least 1-2 diapers in the first 24 hours after birth.
- Wetting at least 5-6 diapers every 24 hours for the first week after birth. The urine should be clear and pale yellow by 5 days after birth.
- Wetting 6-8 diapers every 24 hours as your babies grow and develop.
- Producing a healthy amount of stool:
- By the time your babies are 5 days old, they should produce at least 3 stools in a 24–hour period. The stools should be soft and yellow.
- By the time your babies are 7 days old, they should produce at least 3 stools in a 24–hour period. The stools should be seedy and yellow.
- Gaining a healthy amount of weight. Talk to your health care provider about how much weight your babies should be gaining.
- If your babies do not get enough milk from breastfeeding alone, talk with a lactation specialist. It may be possible to breastfeed part of the time and supplement feedings with donated milk or formula.
- Drink plenty of fluids so your urine is clear or pale yellow.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds, and low-fat dairy products.
- Breastfeeding is beneficial for twins, multiples, and their mothers.
- Nurse your babies as soon as possible after birth. You may nurse two babies at one time.
- Work with a lactation specialist to assess your babies’ latches, find positioning and breastfeeding strategies that work for you, and overcome any nursing challenges.