Breastfeeding Twins And Multiples
Breastfeeding twins or multiples is harder than nursing one baby and the responsibility can feel overwhelming, since the task is more than doable. It just takes a bit of determination and a lot of patience. Here are some facts and tips to help start you off.
The most difficult part of nursing twins and multiples is the tendency to feel as if you are now one big breast. Life becomes all about being a milk machine. Your babies will need almost continual feeding in the early days. What you need to do is to get lots of supportive people behind you from the get go, your pediatrician, a lactation consultant, and friends and family. Tune out the naysayers, and keep on hand your adoring public. Their praise and advice can go a long way.
Knowing what you're in for can make the difference between a successful nursing experience and giving in to formula. One fact to keep in mind is that it takes just as much time to nurse as it does to bottle-feed twins and multiples. More to the point, the added necessity of washing and sterilizing bottles, preparing formula, and warming a feeding take a great deal of time and energy you won't need to spend if you breastfeed. La Leche League International has calculated that breastfeeding saves parents some 300 hours and over $1,200 during the first year, and that's just for single babies. Imagine the savings on formula for multiples!
Nursing on demand is easiest during the day, but at night, you might want to impose a schedule on your babies. If one baby seems to be hungrier, feed the multiples when the hungriest baby calls for food.
You can help support your babies with rolled-up towels for ease of positioning and to keep things almost hands-free, but there are also special pillows you can find to help you nurse two babies at once. One baby may suckle harder or longer than the other, so alternate the side a baby nurses on to keep your milk supply strong in both breasts. If it's hard for you to remember which one nursed on which breast last, try alternating breasts every 24 hours instead of after every feeding. If one of the babies is a preemie and has an extended hospital stay, nurse the other from one side and pump the other breast to help both breasts learn to produce enough milk for two (or more).
Always keep water on hand and drink as much as you can. Your body needs to be hydrated to make milk. The babies should be gaining at least an ounce per day five days postpartum. If you think the babies aren't gaining enough, consult your physician, but add more fluids to your own diet to increase your milk supply. If your babies eat every 2-3 hours or 8 times a day for the first couple of weeks or so, they're on a great feeding schedule. Five or six wet disposable diapers are a good sign your babies are well-hydrated and nourished.
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Our local twins group was really helpful to guide me with nursing twins. Knowing multiple people who nursed two at a time made it seem more normal, not something that only Super Moms could do. A good tandem pillow is also helpful when your babies are able to nurse together.