Breastfeeding is the first and foremost challenge that any mom of twins face as soon as she brings her two tiny munchkins in the world.
Through out my pregnancy, I would often worry about breastfeeding and how will I manage it with both the kids. Though the actual mechanics of breastfeeding are the same for one or even two babies, the reality of managing twin feeding is a real challenge.
Sharing here some common issues with breastfeeding twins that moms of twins face along with how we can overcome them.
1.Prematurity and low birth-weight – Twins are usually born early (i.e before the actual due date) and are usually light in weight (as compared to singleton babies). So for a new mom, it’s a challenge to understand how to hold the babies, how to make them latch etc. I had a c-sec delivery and my twins landed up in NICU for the first few days. So it became all the more difficult for me. I breastfed my twins for the first time on the second day (as first day I wasn’t even able to move myself). It didn’t happen in one go and I was so nervous holding them in my arms. But eventually I learnt. I sought help from the hospital nurses and a lactation consultant to know how to hold the babies and how to make them latch. Honestly it was difficult initially but eventually I got a hang of it.
2. Low supply – Most common worry for any new mom is – is my supply enough? In my case I would worry – is my supply enough to meet the needs to two kids? Frankly it wasn’t, not the initial weeks and I had to resort to various galactogues, foods and spices that help boost breast milk supply. However the main thing that helps (which every doc advices too is) – the more you feed the more you produce. And that’s what I practiced. I did resort to formula milk too (in the initial days when my supply was low) and gave that to kids once in morning and once in night but gradually I reduced the frequency of formula for each baby one by baby and increased breastfeeding sessions. One good investment that I made was a breast pump which helped me express milk and store. That ways when I couldn’t tandem feed and could feed only one child at a time, I would resort to expressed milk for the other.
3. Uncomfortable Feeding Positions – Feeding kids one by one becomes a little taxing for a new mom. Frankly, those first few days I don’t even remember if I did anything else other than breastfeeding. (forget about eating, sleeping or combing my hair ?). Practicing tandem feeding helps. There are different feeding positions that one can try to tandem feed (i.e feed both the kids together at the same time). Explore different nursing positions like double-cradle position, double-football hold or a cradle – football hold, etc. For me double football hold worked really well.
4. Back and Neck Ache – This one was another major problem that I faced in those initial days. Excruciating back and neck pain that wouldn’t let me breastfeed both the kids for more than 5 mins. Most of it was because of improper feeding positions. One wise thing to do would be to invest in a good feeding pillow (preferably a twin feeding pillow) that not just ensure upright back and neck positions but is also comfortable for the babies to latch properly.
5. Breast Engorgement – Engorgement usually happens when the breast tissue overfills with milk, blood and other fluids,causing the breasts to feel full. It becomes hard and painful. It usually occurs if the baby does not feed properly. In case of twins, each child may have different sucking and feeding behaviours. They can display a remarkable differences in their breastfeeding behaviours and this can lead to such practical challenges. As a solution try expressing and storing milk. Also, try alternate each twin with each breast. This will help to equalise the milk production. It is also good for the development of twins as they wouldn’t be lying in the same position every time they feed.
Some Tips For Successfully Breastfeeding Twins
1 During your pregnancy, read and gather as much information as you can on breastfeeding. Books, videos, meeting a lactation consultant before-hand etc will help you build a more comprehensive understanding of what breastfeeding twins involves.
2. Try to breastfeed your twins as soon after the delivery. Colostrum is a powerhouse of antibodies, fat and nutrients which is perfectly designed for newborns.
3. If you cannot breastfeed straight away, then try to cuddle your twins. Understand about one on one, skin to skin contact and try that.
4. Invest in a good breast pump, bottle sterilizers etc and make the best use of that.
5. Keep trying persistently and do not give up.
6. Eat healthy, nutritious food and drink a lot of water. (Do not worry about weight gain at this stage, ?)
7. Accept all reasonable offers of help and support from family and friends especially for house chores, grocery, etc.
8. Join breastfeeding groups online where you can interact with other twin moms and discuss your struggles.
9.Do away with any unsolicited advice and follow only the experts.
10. Don’t be a martyr and keep battling on when you’re clearly exhausted. Take breaks, rest and , sleep whenever possible.
11. Be confident in your feeding abilities. Be mentally prepared and strong.
12. Most importantly, in case you aren’t able to breastfeed your twins or continue to feed do not kill yourself with guilt. Explore your options, seek expert help and do what best suits you. After all only a happy and stress-free mother can raise happy kids.
Did you find this post useful? If you are a parent of twins, share below what challenges you faced while breastfeeding twins and how did you overcome them.