Having twins might seem daunting for any mother as it raises more questions. Will I have enough milk for both babies? How do I hold two squirming babies while feeding?This and many more will hover around your head till you figure a way of doing it firsthand.
There is no specific way to nurse twins as every baby is different. However, there are some tips that can help better the experience for both you and babies.
Start breastfeeding very soon after the birth.
Initiate breastfeeding within the hour and allow the twins (either one or both) to suckle at your breasts whenever they show signs of hunger. During the first few days and weeks, babies send signals to your milk supply and may sometimes feed more frequently. This frequent feeding is sometimes perceived as a sign of a lack of milk but, if feeds happen responsively, milk supply will swiftly increase, and feeding will settle into a pattern again. Frequent, regular stimulation can also help you produce more milk.
Find a twin nursing schedule.
In the beginning, try nursing your twins on the same schedule. However keep in mind that even identical twins have different personalities, appetites and nursing patterns. So try to tune into the needs of each; one may need to nurse more frequently than the other. Some moms like to let the hungrier baby dictate the feeding schedule of both. Others feed on each baby’s demand during the day and stick to a schedule at night. Whatever you choose, just keep extra-careful records to make sure each baby is well fed at each feeding.
Try tandem nursing early on.
Tandem breastfeeding means breastfeeding your babies simultaneously (one on each breast), which may actually buy you some time to rest and take care of yourself in between feedings! For most new parents of twins, this requires latching one baby on first and having someone else position the other baby on the opposite breast. Take the time to work on the latch individually with each baby; and once individual latching and feeding is feeling easier, try tandem nursing again (somewhere in the 2- to 6-week mark). You can use twin nursing pillows to help you hold both babies at the same time while feeding.
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Be ready to make adjustments
Twins are two different people who happen to have been born at the same time. Your babies’ breastfeeding styles and needs may be quite different. So take time and have patience to understand the individual babies’ feeding patterns to know what works for them. Ensure that you also switch breasts for the babies during each feed to ensure both breasts are stimulated and that the babies feed well, especially if one breast is producing more milk than the other.
What if my babies are born early?
Twins are more likely to be born early than single babies. If babies are born early, their mother’s milk will be different to full-term milk and have specific advantages for pre-term babies. Breastmilk reduces a baby’s chances of becoming ill and some conditions can be particularly serious in a pre-term baby. If twins are born very early, they may need to be fed by tube or special cup until they are able to breastfeed. Expressing breastmilk for premature babies will mean a mother is making a valuable contribution to her children’s welfare, especially as hospital staff are responsible for other aspects of their care. Donor milk can also be an option.
The support and encouragement of friends and family is an important aspect to breastfeeding twins successfully. Drink plenty of water and eat a sensible balanced diet while breastfeeding. With support, practice, and flexibility, you will learn what is right for you and your babies.