Essential Advice for Breastfeeding Twins

A nursing baby.
Nursing while another waits in the wings.

Breastfeeding twins can be a severely challenging feat, and for mothers who are unprepared for the task, it can be nearly impossible.

About Breastfeeding Twins

Many expectant mothers started out their pregnancies planning to breastfeed. To them, breastfeeding makes sense. It offers babies numerous immunological and nutritional benefits, and they won't be up late at night washing bottles for the next feeding. Moreover, breastfeeding provides a unique bonding experience for both mother and child. So, why would anyone not want to breastfeed?

When some mothers learn they are expecting twins, their attitude towards breastfeeding remains unwavering. After all, representatives from La Leche League still promote twin breastfeeding as a possibility. Indeed, breastfeeding twins is a possibility for many mothers, but once the twins are born a mother will have to jump several hurdles in order to make any system of breastfeeding a reality.

First off, the birth of one's twins will be a determining factor regarding how easily a mother can breastfeed. Many sets of twins are born prematurely; some will need to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit in order to aid their development into the new world. Many times, nurses will assume bottled formula is the proper feeding medium for these infants, and the mother will be left out in the cold. Unless a mother is adamant about pumping breast milk for her babies, breastfeeding twins may become a lost cause from the very start.

This is why it is very important for expectant mothers of twins to talk directly with the hospital staff and her doctor regarding her feeding plans. If for some medical reason the twins must be on a fortified formula diet for a certain length of time, then a mother should pump adamantly to build up her milk supply.

Building Up an Adequate Milk Supply

Growing infants need adequate nutrition. This can be a challenge for some mothers who have a weak milk supply. Feeding your twins a calorically adequate diet should always take priority over whatever means of feeding is used. True, breastfeeding is the healthier method, but should your infants be undernourished on their healthy diet, the cons will outweigh the pros.

Some breastfeeding mother may benefit from taking the herb Fenugreek with has been clinically shown to increase a mother's milk supply. This herb can be easily purchased in health food stores and can help a breastfeeding mother obtain an extra milk production boost while breastfeeding twins.

Getting Through The Night

A breastfeeding mother can be expected to nurse her newborn as often as every two hours during the night. Since breast milk is digested more quickly than formula, a breastfeeding mother will be up more often. Some mothers practice co-sleeping in order to facilitate this process, though heavier moms risk rolling over and squashing their infant while asleep.

Twins can pose a greater challenge since two newborns may not follow the same sleep and feeding schedule. This conceivably translates to a breastfeeding mother being up the entire night! Once one infant has finished nursing, the second will awaken for a feeding which can wreak havoc on a mother's health within just a week or two post-birth. Mothers of twins who have undergone a cesarean section need the time post-birth to recover, and so repeatedly sleepless nights can cause a host of health problems.

It is possible for a mother to breastfeed both babies simultaneously by assuming certain nursing positions. However, such positions can be challenging for smaller breasted women, and infants are not always cooperative. Co-sleeping and learning to nurse while lying down can allow moms some rest time while her babies feed.

Mitigating Stress

The first three months of twin newborns will be about sheer survival for a mother who doesn't have a large help staff. This is why it is very important that moms go easy on themselves and not stress out too much over issues like breastfeeding. The act of exclusively breastfeeding twins may sometimes envelop entire days and nights, making it impossible for any other chores or activities to be accomplished. New moms will need a lot of help and support from neighbors and friends during this time, and if the day comes where formula seems to be the only hope of survival for a mother and her newborns, then it should be seen as a necessary means and not the coffin lid on your children's health. Breastfeeding is not best when a mother can no longer smile and function enough to get through the newborn period.

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Essential Advice for Breastfeeding Twins