When you think about breastfeeding your multiples, you might shiver in fear – or maybe you’re looking forward to the challenge. Women have all different kinds of experiences with breastfeeding, both positive and more challenging. And with multiples, your experiences sort of get – well, multiplied.
With great cuteness comes great responsibility. Along with more chubby cheeks and more tiny baby feet to hold, you now have more mouths to feed and more stomachs to fill. By no means are you required to breastfeed, or to exclusively breastfeed, but if you want to give it a try, there are some things it can be helpful to know about breastfeeding multiples.
Breastfeeding has positive health benefits for babies. The milk contains important nutrients, and can be easier than formula for premature babies to digest. Breastfeeding itself may help mothers lose weight and provides bonding time for children and their mothers (and, with multiples, between the children themselves). So overall, it can be a great idea to give breastfeeding a try!
Try not to multi-task
This has dual significance in terms of breastfeeding advice. It’s a good idea to put away any distractions while you’re breastfeeding, like cell phones or tablets, so that you can focus completely on the task at hand. It can also be enormously helpful to breastfeed one baby at a time, at least for now. Many moms find this easier because they can practice latching and also pay attention to each baby’s nursing progress and habits. Plus, starting a little slower can give you more of a chance to get the hang of things.
As time goes on you’ll find out whether your babies can be fed simultaneously or separately – this depends on their temperaments and preferences. But one at a time is a great way to start.
Okay, so let’s say your little ones have the hang of things, and are fine feeding at the same time. How exactly are you supposed to position both babies to make this possible? You have a couple of options.
You can position the babies head to head, with their bodies slightly turned towards you.
You can put one baby on each side of you, with their legs facing the back of your chair and your forearms supporting their backs.
You can mix things up and cradle one in your arm in front of you, and position one on your side with their legs facing the back of your chair.
You can also cradle both babies at the same time, and overlap them so that their legs form an ‘X’ in your lap.
Some of these positions can feel awkward and strange early on in fact, all of them probably will feel unfamiliar for a little while. If you don’t like them, you can keep experimenting until you find a position that feels right to you, but these are definitely the time-tested methods for feeding two babies at the same time.
For their first 6 months, you’re going to be feeding your multiples often. If you’re breastfeeding, investing in a pump can make these months easier, as you get the hang of feeding two or more hungry infants at once. Pumping helps stimulate milk production, and allows you to let other people help you out at feeding time. Some pumps work faster than others, and some are easier or harder to hook up in a hurry, so a little research can help you find the pump that’s right for you and your family.
“Help! Breastfeeding multiples is driving me up a wall!”
Eventually this thought might start running through your mind as you’re trying to get tandem breastfeeding down. If it does, don’t panic! Many mothers find that it’s easier to supplement breastfeeding with one or more formula feeds throughout the day. Multiples take a lot of energy, and you might not have enough to go around if you’re exclusively breastfeeding. This is a personal decision, and your healthcare provider can help you talk through the pros and cons if you’re feeling conflicted.
You earn a nice big gold star for even considering breastfeeding your multiples – it isn’t an easy task. But remember that many other women are in the same boat, and eventually, you’ll figure out what works best for you and your little ones.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Breast-feeding twins: Making feedings manageable.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, April 9 2015. Web.
- “Feeding twins and multiples.” NHS Choices. Gov.UK. December 8 2016. Web.