Learn about breastfeeding twins before the babies arrive.

We are often so focused on the birth that we forget that we are going to have babies to look after and feed. Find an antenatal session that covers the basics of milk production, getting a good latch, and normal baby behavior. Twins are just babies, after all, they just happen to be born on the same day. But they will still behave like singleton babies. For more specific multiples related information, my online course and book are worth looking at.

Find your local support.

Whilst you are pregnant and your brain is still vaguely functioning, find your local breastfeeding support. This could be your health care providers or a charity-led or voluntary sector peer support service. There may be groups you can go along to. Also, find out if you have any more qualified support. A La Leche League leader, breastfeeding counsellor, or lactation consultant. An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is the highest level of qualification. You may be able to access them via your health service, or health insurance, but in many places, they are only available privately. In this scenario, perhaps find out how much your local IBCLC charges and start a fund.

Get a good latch.

There are many different breastfeeding twins positions but the basics of getting a deep latch are the same. Baby needs to be close to your body with their head tilted back looking up at the breast. Babies’ arms should not be between their body and mum’s body. The nipple is resting on the baby’s top lip pointing up their nose. Stroking the baby’s top lip with the nipple should encourage the rooting reflex and the baby will open wide, and they can be brought onto the breast. For small babies, shaping the breast a little with the other hand can help them get a big mouthful. Get support with the latch if you are in pain or babies are not feeding very effectively.

Feed frequently.

Babies have small tummies that need to be refilled frequently, and breast milk is very easy to digest. Milk production also works on a demand-and-supply basis. So the more often you feed, the more milk you will make, and there will be a greater chance of your babies getting enough milk. Babies should be fed a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours (3 hourly) but in reality, most babies like to breastfeed more frequently. It is full-on, but as the babies get bigger, they become more efficient, feeds become shorter and they may even stretch out a little.

Early birth.

Multiples are more likely to be born early, and even just a few weeks can make breastfeeding more difficult. If your babies are born before 36 weeks they may have to go to the neonatal unit and you may have to establish your milk supply by pumping to begin with. For babies born around 36/7 weeks, they should be able to breastfeed straight away, but maybe a little inefficient and may need some extra milk. It can be a good plan to do some pumping alongside breastfeeding directly in this scenario so that you can protect your milk supply. Once past 40 weeks, with patience and support, most premature and early babies will be able to just breastfeed, if that is what the parent wishes.

Get help with everything else!

The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is so true, and even more so for multiples. Think about your support network. Will your partner be able to take some leave? Do you have family nearby who can help with household chores and cooking? Have you some local friends who could drop a meal on the doorstep, or come and cuddle a baby whilst you shower? Do you have any funds for a post-natal doula, mother’s help, or cleaner? Do not be afraid to reach out for support. Humans are designed to live in small communities with everyone pitching in. We are not supposed to do this alone. And there are also lots of online communities that can support you with information and encouragement.

Tandem feeding when breastfeeding twins

It is possible to feed both babies at the same time, one on each breast. This can increase the efficiency of the feed and mean you can get more sleep! There are many different positions you can try. However some find they do not enjoy tandem feeding, and in his case, you can just single-feed. Or do a mixture!

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For group breastfeeding support sessions and Zoom workshops on topics such as sleep, Introducing a bottle, Introducing solids, Returning to work and night weaning book here.

About the Author:

Kathryn Stagg is a lactation consultant (IBCLC) and a breastfeeding counsellor based in Harrow in NW London, UK. She is a mum of twin boys and 2 others. Kathryn founded the Facebook group, now a UK charity, Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK to support UK-based multiple birth families to meet their breastfeeding goals. The Facebook group now has 10,000+ members and the charity offers funded 1:1 support, antenatal education, and webinars for health professionals. Kathryn has a small private practice and offers in-home and remote support, and has a specific online course for expectant parents to learn all about breastfeeding multiples. She has also recently published the book Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets; a guide for professionals and parents.

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