Breastfeeding Twins: Getting off to a Good Start.

Tandem nursing.

Tandem nursing twin boys.

You’re expecting twins!  How exciting! After the shock wears off, you may start wondering about how you will breastfeed 2 babies!  No need to worry. With some preparation and lots of support, most mothers of twins have plenty of milk for their babies. Here are a few general tips for ensuring ample milk supply when breastfeeding twins:

  • First of all, don’t listen to anyone who says you won’t be able to do this! If you can make enough milk for one baby you can make enough for two! In fact, the research shows that mothers with twins make MORE than double the amount of milk for one baby and moms of triplets make more than triple. Yes, our bodies over-compensate. Another cool thing. Your breasts know you are carrying twins before they are born and prepare accordingly!
  • Find other moms who are breastfeeding twins and enlist their support. La Leche League may be a good resource to connect with moms of multiples. Many communities have support groups for families with multiples. In Seattle, it’s Seattle Families of Multiples. Get connected while you are pregnant!
  • It would be a good idea to meet with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) while you’re still pregnant. Especially true if this will be your first experience breastfeeding. She will help you find resources, locate the best breast pump and help you develop a plan for success.
  • Read books about breastfeeding—general books as well as books about twins. One of my favorite twin resources is “Mothering Multiples” by Karen Gromada.
  • Plan on renting a hospital grade pump to use until your milk supply is established. If the babies are born early, or one or both have trouble breastfeeding at first, you will have a machine that can act as a substitute for your babies. Pump as often as your babies eat! Of course, if your babies are both nursing well from birth, you will have no need for a pump. Remember if only one twin is nursing well, you will still need to pump to simulate 2 babies at the breast!
  • Research shows (as well as the experience of my clients) pumping 8x a day will yield the same amount of milk as pumping every 3 hours. So if babies can’t breastfeed yet, give yourself a break and sleep for 4 hours in a row at night. You can pump more often during the day to get in those 8 pumpings!
  • Hire an experienced, trusted lactation consultant (IBCLC) as soon as possible after the babies are born. It’s very important to get things off to a good start. Expect the LC to be supportive of your efforts and positive about your desire to exclusively breastfeed. I recommend asking her about her experience/philosophy before you meet with her. Your local twins group may have some recommendations.
  • Plan on doing nothing but feeding babies, feeding yourself and sleeping for the first 3-6 weeks. (Longer if the babies are premature) You will need help for meals, laundry, cleaning and errands. Let your wonderful helpers do everything non-baby. Your babies need you! Everything will feel much easier and you’ll be able to cope well if you take good care of yourself. Hiring a postpartum doula who is experienced with twins is a great investment!
  • If you’re having trouble with supply or babies aren’t breastfeeding effectively, try pumping for 5-10 minutes immediately after breastfeeding them. This will help you remove any milk they left behind and tell your body to make more milk.
  • Breastfeed simultaneously as much as you can. This tells your body definitively that you have twins and you need to make a lot of milk NOW.
  • Familiarize yourself with lactogenic foods. Milkmakers are one delicious way to help your supply. Foods that are rich in calcium and iron are also supportive. There are a variety of herbs and medications that can help increase your milk production, but please check with your IBCLC for advice!
  • Yes, it’s true that some mothers are not able to make enough milk for their babies. If that is your situation, you can still breastfeed. You can use donor milk or formula for supplementation when necessary.

Note: Many sets twins or triplets were conceived with the help of IVF or some other technology. If you have fertility issues, please be extra cautious the first week or so after the birth of your babies and seek help from an IBCLC immediately after birth.  Some causes of infertility are correlated with low milk supply. If you are prepared, you can avoid unnecessary newborn weight loss.

See also, “Breastfeeding Twins? Yes!”

Which Hygeia Breast Pump is Right for YOU?

One of the great things about Hygeia is that their fantastic professional-grade breast pump comes in 2 different versions. It’s nice to have choices. But choices can sometimes be confusing—especially when you are a sleep-deprived mother of a new baby.

The nice folks at Hygeia could have made it a lot easier on all of us by coming up with names that made sense. EPS? LBI? What the heck do those mean exactly? I finally have it all figured out and it’s really very simple once you understand that those abbreviations really mean very little. Just trust me as I describe each pump in detail. Continue reading

Breastfeeding and Work–Alice’s Story

Multi-tasking!

Multi-tasking!

Alice came to me concerned about how she was going to keep breastfeeding once she returned to her full-time career. In her workplace, there is no such thing as 9-5. Everyone is expected to put in long days. I talked to her about asking for what she needed and setting some limits. We also talked about creative ways to meet her baby’s needs. She took my suggestions and ran with them—developing her own, unique style. Many thanks to Alice for sharing how she has managed to maintain her breastfeeding relationship and continue her fast-paced work life.

Christian is a big, healthy boy who is now enjoying solid foods in addition to mommy’s milk. Here is her success story: Continue reading

Sharing Breast Pumps: Is it Safe?

Smart moms shop around and look for bargains. And when we’re talking about items for the nursery and other new baby gear, hand-me-downs are often as good as new and can save you a lot of money. When it comes to purchasing a breast pump, however, think twice about buying used or sharing with a friend.

The FDA defines breast pumps as single-use devices —not designed for sharing. Most professional-grade pumps are “open systems.” This means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pump motor. (Rental pumps are “closed systems” and designed for multiple users.) If a mother has used the pump when she has had cracked or bleeding nipples, or mastitis, it is possible that blood or bacteria may have entered the motor. According to the FDA, …”a breast pump should only be used by one woman because there is no way to guarantee the pump can be cleaned and disinfected between uses by different women.”   Continue reading

Breastfeeding and Work–Getting Out the Door!

IMG_2024Now that you’ve made the commitment to breastfeed your baby AND you’re going back to work, you may be wondering…how do moms really do this?

Here are some tips from experienced breastfeeding moms who have learned how to make every second count! Continue reading