Having twins and other multiples is becoming increasingly common. Even better is that there are more mothers of multiples who successfully nurse their babies. Some great role models are available to talk to about breastfeeding more than one baby at a time.
Myths about breastfeeding twins and Multiples
Plenty of myths circulate about breastfeeding in general. But armed with facts, you should be able to pick apart most myths before they can work on your confidence level. Here are some of the more common myths about breastfeeding multiples:
• You can’t make enough milk.
• All you will do is feed the babies.
• Bottle feeding is easier when you have more than one baby.(see HOW TO FEED A NEWBORN BABY)
These statements are false! Mothers of multiples make plenty of breast milk for their babies. The key to good milk production is the same as with any singleton: Nurse early and often, and follow cue feeding for all babies when possible.
Feeling like all you do is care for your babies is a normal way to feel with multiples. This statement might appear true, but you also have to change diapers, eat, sleep, and bathe. So while you will spend the bulk of your time caring for your babies, you will spend only a portion of that time feeding the babies. In other words, caring for multiples is a lot of work no matter how you slice it. Breastfeeding will not make or break you.
You might be told that bottle feeding is easier with multiple babies. But the truth is that breastfeeding twins is the perfect lay-down-on-the-job activity. You simply latch on and feed your baby. You can multitask if you choose. But in general, there is nothing to prepare, nothing to wash, and nothing to purchase—times two or more.
Know that there are always people you can talk to about breastfeeding twins. Finding support from other mothers of multiples is a great idea. Also look for a lactation consultant who has worked with mothers of multiples before you.
You may also be interested in: How do you Manage your Breast : Breastfeeding twins
What Challenges do Multiple Babies Present?
Although the statements in the list in the preceding section are myths, that’s not to say that breastfeeding multiple babies isn’t challenging. Some challenges you might have no control over, such as the gestational age at which they are born. Twins are more likely to be born early and are more likely to require interventions at birth. These are two known factors that can increase the risk of having breastfeeding twins difficulties.
In some ways, you will need to think of your nursing experience as simply nursing two babies at the same time. It is really not the collective nursing situation that most people think of when they think of breastfeeding twins and other multiples. Even if you have identical twins, they will still have different issues when it comes to nursing. Learning these differences will help you in your quest to breastfeed. An example might be that one baby has an issue with tongue tie, while her twin nurses just fine. You might also see one baby has a different nursing style or pattern than her siblings. This can be challenging when it comes to figuring out when and how to feed your babies. But patience and help will go a long way toward deciphering this pattern.
If prematurity is on the list of things you’re concerned about, you might need more help with breastfeeding twins from your lactation professional. And remember, even slight prematurity can make a big impact on your baby’s nursing abilities. You can overcome these challenges with time and support. Having more than one infant at a time brings other issues as well. You have two hands and how many babies? This means you might have to do some baby rotating in terms of how you feed them and when. For a while, you might need help during feedings to ensure that you can get each baby latched well and nursing (and to help with those issues that come up during a feeding, such as someone needing a diaper change!). As you get past the first weeks, this will become much easier.
Managing Breastfeeding Twins Feeding Patterns
If you are feeding on demand and both babies prefer opposite schedules, you will have to figure out how to handle this situation. Some mothers choose to allow both babies to maintain whatever schedule they naturally prefer. Others try to gently mold their babies’ schedules closer together. should you Feed together or apart? This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to breastfeeding multiples, and you will probably go back and forth with your answer.
Some mothers find it easier to nurse one baby at a time. This takes longer to accomplish and might leave you feeling like you do nothing but feed babies all day. It also requires more help, because you simply cannot nurse one baby and care for two or more alone if you really intend to feed. Feeding both babies together, while it offers you the chance to save time, might be harder for a while. Particularly at first, as you are learning your babies’ styles, cues, and patterns, you might not be able to hold and latch both babies adequately. Having someone there to help you can be beneficial, but it might also make things a bit more hectic. And a hectic mom means nervous babies, which in turn means the nursing session is getting off on the wrong foot.
The ideal solution is to nurse sometimes together and sometimes apart. As you and your babies get to know each other, nursing can become simpler. You might find your babies actually help each other to nurse. Twins are often known to pat one another to give comfort. Or if you have one baby who might be having a harder time latching, let the first baby get the flow going, and then suddenly your other baby will be nursing like a pro!
We recommend reading the article: How to use breast pads