When my first son was born, I hired a Lactation Consultant (I wasn’t at the time) to help me to breastfeed. She mentioned she was still breastfeeding her 2-year-old twins, and when I asked her with my out-of-this-world face, HOW DO YOU DO THAT? She said: “easy; I have two breasts.”
She was right. Breastfeeding twins, other than more time consuming, is no different than breastfeeding one. Your body is perfectly capable of producing enough for two; actually, three is the limit, according to some studies.
That brings me back to my first breastfeeding class, with my newborn in arms, and a twin’s mom next to me breastfeeding both -one on each side-. She seemed so calmed and secure that I thought, “if she can do that, I shall do it too.” Sometimes, it’s a matter of attitude.
Breastfeeding multiple babies may be a challenge, but believe it or not, planning ahead is the key to success. A breastfeeding class to begin with -especially before the babies arrive- is a great way to be prepared on what to do to have the best start and identify a good support network. A breastfeeding support network includes lactation consultants, pediatricians, doulas, mamas support groups, help at home, and, most importantly, your partner. Remember, it takes a village to make it possible, and there’re many resources available for you.
Some tips for breastfeeding twins:
At the beginning, nurse one at the time. Make sure each baby makes a good latch and suck actively. It may take a few weeks until they learn to latch and suck properly, but that time is 100% worthy. Once you notice they do it, you may start nursing them at the same time.
Everything else applies the same to twins as to single babies: the outputs, breastfeeding on demand, and at least eight times daily; hunger cues; proper latch; nutritive sucking. Everything!
Don’t forget to alternate breasts to equilibrate the milk supply on both. So, if baby A started on the right, then let baby B begin on the left, and then switch them.
The firsts weeks will be intense; I won’t lie. You may feel you’ll be breastfeeding the entire day, but the more you let them practice, the quicker they’ll become fast and efficient in their feedings. You may need some extra help; someone to rock or soothe one baby while you breastfeed the other; or maybe to help you latch one, while you work on the other side. Accept all the help you can, but make sure they share and work for your own goals.
When you least expect it, you’ll find yourself breastfeeding two, making it seem so easy and natural, just the same way that mom showed me on my very first day as a mom.