You Can Do It!
Learning you are pregnant with twins, triplets or more changes your expectations and plans. But your decision to breastfeed doesn’t have to change. Mother’s milk is especially important for multiples, who are often small at birth and need all the health benefits it provides. Breastfeeding also helps you create a special bond with each of your babies. Many mothers have nursed their multiples; you can enjoy nurturing your babies this way, too. Mothers of twins or more often have mixed emotions about their “multiple blessings”. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of caring for two or more babies at once. It can really help to talk to another mother in the same situation.
Do read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Mothering Multiples by Karen Gromada. You’ll be busy looking after your babies but don’t forget to look after yourself too. Try to eat a balanced diet and drink enough. Get as much rest as possible, and sleep whenever your babies sleep. A healthy diet with plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats will get you all off to a good start. Gaining healthy amounts of weight during pregnancy is good for your babies’ birth weights and may also help prevent premature birth. Ask your midwife for information on warning signs for premature labor. Seek medical attention quickly if any occur, or you have any of these symptoms: a severe headache or stomach ache, see spots in front of your eyes, or feel extremely irritable or tense.
Any separation after birth may make breastfeeding harder, but it’s still possible. Hold, or at least touch, your babies immediately after the birth or as soon as you can. You can still touch and stroke a baby in special care and may be able to hold him against you in ‘kangaroo mother care’. If he can’t breastfeed, express your milk for him. This is the most important thing you can do whilst you are waiting to start breastfeeding. When you are back together, spend as much time as possible snuggling together skin-to-skin or lightly dressed to establish breastfeeding. If you need to express your milk because one or both babies can’t nurse, hand expression is useful in the first few days. Plan to express from both breasts at least eight times in 24 hours, about every two to three hours during the day and at least once during the night. As your milk increases, you can switch to a hospital grade automatic electric pump. Once breastfeeding is established, most mothers of multiples find nursing two at once is easiest and it saves time to co-ordinate feeds. Breastfeeding at night lying down gives you more rest. It gets easier as your babies grow. In the meantime, use enough pillows to recline in bed and feed two babies at once. Keep a drink and snack handy plus books or music to pass the time.
Making Enough Milk
The more milk your babies take, the more your breasts will make. This is especially important in the first few weeks. Since mothers of multiples usually experience more breast development during pregnancy, mothers of twins can almost always produce enough milk for both babies, and triplets can also be totally breastfed. Encourage each baby to feed at least 8–10 times in 24 hours. If one of your babies is too sleepy or groggy to rouse himself every few hours, you will need to wake him to feed to ensure he gets enough milk. See our page Sleepy Baby—why and what to do. At first you may feel you are doing nothing but feeding, but things will settle down as your babies grow and your milk production adjusts. Practical help with everything else will allow you to sit or lie down and concentrate on the important job of establishing breastfeeding.
Ask For Help
Your partner or support person will have a crucial role both practically and emotionally. Because they are needed so much, non-gestational parents of multiples have the opportunity to quickly develop close relationships with their babies. Other family members may also enjoy the chance to be practically involved. Take moments to appreciate this special time and be proud that you can nourish and nurture two or more little human beings at once! Others will offer help with housework or entertaining older children—do accept and make an effort to ask for help when you need it! Have a list of simple tasks ready to make it easier when people do offer help.
Attend La Leche League meetings in early pregnancy to learn about breastfeeding and meet breastfeeding mothers. Mothers of twins or more often have mixed emotions about their “multiple blessings”. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of caring for two or more babies at once. It can really help to talk to another mother in the same situation. Your local LLL Leader can put you in touch with other mothers who have breastfed multiples, some LLL groups have Facebook support groups specifically for mothers of multiples.
After All Twins Are Cute!
Yes, multiples are a miracle of human nature and look amazingly cute when dressed the same. It's undeniable that bringing twins home means bringing home two sweet bundles of joy. These siblings will go on to form a special bond, supporting each other their whole lives. Get to know your babies: with time, you will come to know your babies as individuals. Take opportunities to give them a little undivided attention when you can. A few minutes here and there all add up. Their personalities will soon show through.