Breastfeeding Twins

I can remember the looks I received from my family and friends when I informed them that I intended to breastfeed my twins when they were born. The looks were of shock, disbelief or confusion. But I knew the decision was up to me and I intended to breastfeed my twins.

I already considered myself to have an advantage because I breastfed my two other sons Joey and Jimmy for the first six months of their precious lives. And when my twins, Henry and Michael were born I did successfully breastfeed them for the first seven months of their lives. In fact, I found it much easier than trying to bottle-feed two babies...

I suggest that you contact La Leche League before you deliver, for a wealth of knowledge on breastfeeding. They can be reached at 1-800-LA-LECHE. (Editorís note: Donít forget our breastfeeding message board, either...)

Breastfeeding twins requires the mother of twins to use a nursing pillow. This is a soft semi-circular device that she wears around her abdomen. This is used to that the mother of twins is able to breastfeed both babies at the same time. Breastfeeding both babies at the same time is imperative since newborns need to nurse 8-12 times each day. You do not want to have a baby latched to your breast 24 hours a day! Nursing pillows can be purchased through La Leche League. Do not forget to take this with you to the hospital.

When you are in the hospital delivering your angels, be sure to contact the hospital lactation consultant to assist you with breastfeeding for the first several feedings. These nurses (typically) are wonderful support persons to help you with problems common with breastfeeding, such as latch-on, sore nipples, engorgement, and/or frustration.

There are three positions to breastfeed twins using the nursing pillow:

The football position is where both babies are latched on to the breasts while their heads are resting on each side of the nursing pillow. Their feet are tucked under one underarm pointing toward your backside. Think of how you carry a football.

The cradle nursing position is where both babies are latched on to the breasts while their heads are resting on the nursing pillow and both babiesí feet are crossed over each other in front of you.

The combination football/cradle nursing position is where one twin is nursing in the football position and the other twin is nursing in the cradle position.

Try out each position and use the one that is most comfortable for you. I found the football position to be most comfortable for me.

Breastfeed on demand, meaning "feed the twins whenever they are hungry." This may be tricky in the beginning because you want to feed both babies at the same time so that they fall into the same schedule. I suggest that whenever a baby wants to be fed, feed the other baby at the same time. He may surprise you and nurse again, but if he prefers not to then enjoy the time feeding just one. Continue to test both babies whenever one baby is hungry. They both will fall into the same feeding schedule within a few weeks. Be persistentÖ it is very important that you feed them both at SAME time so you can get a break throughout the day and night.

Alternate the twins on each breast at every feeding so that your milk supply remains equal in each breast. I can remember Michael always eating a bit more than Henry, causing the breast that Henry recently nursed from to become engorged by the next feeding. Michael was then given the fuller breast at the next feeding. I always wrote everything down on a chart, though. I certainly could not trust my foggy brain!

Water is extremely important to milk production. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water and eating nutritiously each day will help keep your milk plentiful. Grab a glass prior to sitting down to nurse your babies. Youíll get thirsty when the babies latch on.

Get comfortable and relax when nursing your babies. This will encourage the letdown reflex, which releases the milk from your breast.

If you have a toddler or an older child, then read them a book while you are nursing the babies using the nursing pillow. Have them snuggle up beside you. You will have your hands free to do this, and you will be providing intellectual stimulation to your child.

My husband John still laughs whenever he thinks about me getting ready to nurse the twins. I would run around filling my glass of water, the TV remote, the phone, a book to read to Joey and Jimmy, my nursing pillow and last but not least, Henry and Michael. Once I had Henry and Michael resting comfortably on my nursing pillow breastfeeding then I would relax and either talk on the phone, watch TV or spend the time reading to Joey and Jimmy.

I am glad that I decided to breastfeed my babies. Consider it. It is not that hard to do, and what a beautiful gift to give to your twins!