As a mom who tried exclusively breastfeeding twins and who was successful with exclusively breastfeeding a singleton, I thought it would be helpful to write a post about the challenges I faced trying to breastfeed twins.
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The Birth Of Your Twins
One of the biggest factors that will influence your journey exclusively breastfeeding twins will be their birth.
Particularly, if your twins are born early. Breastfeeding premature twins could go a little differently than initially planned.
I learned this lesson when my twins were born at 35.5 weeks and brought to the NICU.
When babies are born early, which is more common for twins, they are not quite developed enough to have a good latch and sucking reflex.
Because of this, I ended up pumping for my twins and supplementing with formula as needed.
The moral of this story is to be prepared for the possibility of your twins being born early.
If this happens, you might need to start out pumping before being able to switch to nursing.
Recovering From Birth As A Twin Mom
Another thing that will effect your experience exclusively breastfeeding twins is how you feel after giving birth.
For me personally, the birth of my twins involved being at the hospital for 24 hours, pushing for over 2 hours, and dealing with horrible spinal headaches from my epidural for one week after birth.
By comparison, the delivery of my singleton was so much easier. I did not have an epidural, I was at the hospital under an hour, and it took 3 pushes and boom he was out (I lucked out big time on this one).
There were stark differences between the deliveries and postpartum recovery, which definitely had a big impact on my breastfeeding success.
For the twins, getting through just one pumping session was very difficult and painful due to the spinal headaches.
While with my singleton, I was able to focus on nursing, since my postpartum recovery was so much easier.
So, if you have a difficult delivery and recovery, the start of breastfeeding your twins could be slower than you anticipate.
But, you can always work on things like increasing your milk supply, further down the road when you start feeling strong enough.
Pumping Versus Nursing For Twins
What does exclusively breastfeeding twins look like?
It could mean you exclusively pump for your twins or maybe you will be able to nurse them right from the start. Or, it could be a combination of the two.
With the twins being born early and going to the NICU, I was pumping and bottle feeding them. Meanwhile, with my singleton, he was nursed from day 1.
I do think it’s important to point out that the twins were pretty much only fed from a bottle.
This meant I had a lot of help from my husband at night for feedings.
Plus, I was able to get help with feedings during the day if someone was visiting.
By comparison, if you are nursing, it is much easier to establish the milk supply you will need.
A downside of nursing is that nighttime feeds will be all on you. It is difficult to get a break from night feeds because you need to maintain your milk supply when you are exclusively breastfeeding.
Pumping And Nursing Advantages And Disadvantages
A negative to bottle feeding breast milk is that it is a two-step process. First you pump the milk to a bottle, then you need to feed it to your babies from the bottle.
With nursing, you do this all in one step. There are also no bottles to clean with nursing.
At first, there is not necessarily a big difference in time required for a combo pumping / bottle feeding session and a nursing session. With a newborn nursing sessions typically take 30-40 min.
However, as your babies grow, they will become much more efficient and nurse faster.
Something else I found to be more difficult with pumping, especially during the first few weeks, was feeling like I was missing out.
I say this because we had a lot of visitors at our house. If you’re nursing you do not necessarily have to leave the room.
But, with pumping, I was constantly away from my visitors and missing out on the conversations they were having.
Exclusively Breastfeeding And Baby Sleep
As far as breast milk versus formula and their effect on your baby’s sleep, I did notice a difference.
Since the twins were fed both formula and breast milk, we always made sure their last feed of the night was formula.
They slept in longer stretches from a younger age, even though they were born at 35.5 weeks (versus 38.5 weeks).
At 5 months old, my breastfed baby slept about 7 hours at night, but the twins were sleeping 8-10 hours by this age.
I cannot say for certain this is why, but it is known formula takes longer to digest, which can allow babies to be capable of sleeping in longer stretches.
How Much Help Do You Have?
The more help you have, the better your chances of exclusively breastfeeding twins successfully.
So, start enlisting the help of your family and friends ASAP.
If you are planning to hire a nanny, consider having her start as early on as possible.
Your helpers can get things done around the house, like clean or make meals. They can also tend to one of your twins, while you nurse the other one.
When your twins are newborns, there will be times that you do not feed them simultaneously.
Once you get your twins on the same schedule, you will be able to mostly tandem feed your twins.
Tandem Feeding Twins
As previously mentioned, at first, you will not be tandem feeding your twins for every feed.
In fact, you might find it easier to just avoid tandem feeding until you feel comfortable with nursing in general.
This is why I recommend purchasing both a regular breastfeeding pillow and a double feeding pillow.
But, once you are ready, it will be important to have resources to tandem feed twins by yourself correctly.
I recommend checking out this video on tandem breastfeeding twins to get an idea of what to expect.
Do Not Stress Over Breastfeeding Your Twins
Given all this information the biggest piece of advice I give twin moms, is DO NOT STRESS over breastfeeding.
I know this is easier said than done. If you are planning to breastfeed or are currently breastfeeding, do as much as you can.
But, if it’s not working out, do not beat yourself up over it. You need to do what is best for you and your family’s health and happiness.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your newborn babies having a healthy, available mom too.
How To Succeed Exclusively Breastfeeding Twins
Before I go I wanted to leave you with a few tips so that you can succeed exclusively breastfeeding your twins.
- Be sure you have the right breastfeeding gear for twins.
- Be ready to spend most of your day (and some of your night) either pumping or nursing.
- When you first start out, you might find it easier to feed your twins separately, rather than at the same time.
- Do not stress if you are not able to exclusively breastfeed your twins. You can always supplement with a little bit of formula, if needed.
- Get as much help as you can to increase your chances of being able to exclusively breastfeed your twins.
Good luck with your breastfeeding journey twin mama, you got this!
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