Although it can seem daunting, nursing twins is entirely possible. Because caring for two newborns is so demanding, some mothers of twins are afraid to take on the challenge of breastfeeding two babies. The reality is that nursing will save you time, energy and money, in addition to giving you a wonderful way to get to know your babies. More importantly, many twins are small at birth, which makes the protective antibodies in breast milk even more crucial.
Most of the worry about nursing twins is a concern that it’s impossible to produce enough milk to provide adequate nutrition for two hungry babies. This is simply not true. Just as your body has accommodated a twin pregnancy, your milk supply will rise to the challenge of feeding two babies.
In the exhausting and exciting days after giving birth to multiples, your focus will be on establishing your milk supply. Begin by nursing your twins as soon as possible, which ideally would be shortly after birth. Start with one baby at a time so you can help the baby latch on. If your babies are premature and unable to nurse, you’ll want to start pumping your milk. While your babies are in hospital, ask if there’s an electric double nursing pump you can use. The milk you express can be frozen and fed to your babies through tiny gavage tubes. If your babies are extremely low weight, your doctor may recommend gavage feedings of breast milk fortified with additional protein and nutrients.
Here are some additional tips for successfully nursing twins:
Two at a time: Simultaneous nursing can be a timesaver. Some mums wake up a sleeping baby to join a nursing sibling so that both babies are on the same schedule. A large nursing pillow that curves around your waist will keep the babies propped up and comfortable.
Keep track: If you have identical twins, make it easy to monitor who has nursed and who hasn’t by letting them wear their hospital bracelets or by tying a piece of yarn around one baby’s wrist. Post a simple chart on the wall to record the time of the last feeding.
Alternate breasts: Some mums dedicate one breast to each baby. That’s fine, but you may find that alternating breasts balances out your milk supply.
Water, water, water: Keep a cup of water at your side while you’re nursing. Milk production depends on an adequate liquid supply, so drink water often.
Healthy diet and rest: It’s hard to take a break when you’ve got two newborns on your hands, but eating healthy meals, including protein, will help keep your milk supply strong. If milk production starts to lag, try resting as much as possible.
Minimize nipple soreness: With your nipples getting a double workout, soreness may arise. Often this is a sign that the babies need to latch onto the areola, the coloured area around the nipple, and not just the nipple.
Ask for help: Your local mothers of twins club can be an invaluable source of encouragement.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.