Breastfeeding TWINS – YES, it can be done!
Mother Nature is pretty smart. She equips our bodies with more than what we need them to do. Most of the time, humans have one baby at a time, and we come equipped with two straight-from-the-factory milk delivery sites. As it turns out, either of those "sites" is capable of providing enough milk to fully nourish a baby – and that means that Mother Nature has already covered the possibility that more than one baby might be breastfeeding at a time.
When you choose to breastfeed your twin babies, you may be protecting yourself by reducing your chances of getting breast cancer and cancer of the ovaries. The longer you choose to breastfeed your twins, the more you reduce the chances of them getting juvenile diabetes and some childhood cancers. It protects your babies from germs and developing allergies.
Twins breastfeeding is a lot of work and responsibility but try not to get overwhelmed. Don't worry that your body can't make enough milk for your twin babies - it can! And for the first few weeks - just know that this is ALL you'll be doing - not forever but for a while as you get your babies off to a great start.
Try to be flexible with your feedings - you may find they both want to eat at the same time, or that one wants to much more often than the other. One baby might have their own sweet time, and another who felt like a little hoover vacuum! Try to be relaxed and remember that feeding your babies is really your only priority in the beginning. Find a quiet place and try to avoid anything that makes you worried or stressed out. Experiment with what works for you - there is no 'right way' to do this. It's a learning process for you and your babies. You will find what works. Just focus on those twins until you have the breastfeeding down to a science!
The Principle of Supply and Demand
Milk supply is based on a wonderful supply and demand principle: The more milk that is removed from the breast, the more the breast will make. It stands to reason that if there are two babies removing that milk, then the breast will just respond by making twice as much milk. So, in theory at least, there's no reason that the mother of twins shouldn't be able to fully nourish two babies at the breast.
That's the theory. The big question is, though, is it practical? Can you breastfeed twins and still have a life? Can you do anything but nurse those babies – round the clock? Does sleep become a non-priority? How in the world can you manage all this, day in and day out?
The good news is that it IS possible to breastfeed those two babies and still have a life. The keys to making it work are education, planning and prioritizing, support and flexibility.
Preparing for the arrival of twins is much like preparing for the arrival of just one baby, only more so. The more you learn ahead of time, the better prepared you'll be when the time comes. Chances are good that you'll learn ahead of time that you are carrying twins, so you'll have at least a little time to adjust to the idea before your babies arrive. In order to prepare for breastfeeding twins, take time to learn as much as you can about:
Normal breastfeeding – Read all you can about how breastfeeding is supposed to work. Learn how to tell when things are going well – and when they are not. They'll be healthier, you'll decrease your risk of breast cancer and you'll save time and money by not having to deal with formula!
Breastfeeding preterm infants – Chances are greater that your babies will arrive early, and it helps to learn ahead of time what that might mean – and not just for breastfeeding, either.
Expressing and storing milk – Depending on whether your babies come early, how early and whether they require special hospital care, you may need to pump your milk and store it so it can be used as the babies are ready for it.
Managing twins – Let's face it. Having twins automatically implies a big investment of time, energy and money. But you get double the return on that investment! Regardless of how you choose to feed your babies, much of your time for the first months of their lives will revolve around baby care. Your goal is to make this time as easy as possible.
Selecting health care professionals – Now is the time to talk to your doctor or other health care professional about your desire to breastfeed your babies. Find out how your doctor feels about breastfeeding twins and preemies and what you can do to ensure that your wishes are known and followed by hospital personnel.
With pillows available you can vary the positions for twin’s breastfeeding. There is the cradle hold with the babies across your chest, or the football hold along your sides. Try to alternate babies and breasts with each feeding. I suggest keeping a journal handy with a column for each baby just so that you can keep track. I would often wear a colour coordinated pink/blue ribbon around one wrist and then alternate them so I could remember who has been fed. This helps your milk production to be equal in both breasts.
Some examples of breastfeeding positions that you can apply while breastfeeding your twins.
While breastfeeding twin babies can take a little more time, patience and effort, the benefits are well worth it. Nursing twins is a wonderful way to bond with your babies and feed them with the best food. Breastfed babies are generally healthier and fall sick less. WHO recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of lives. Breastfeeding is not only feeding the baby with breast milk but, it’s priceless moment between mother and babies and most important is bonding that happen during breastfeed.