Breastfeeding twins, triplets and quadruplets may be a bit more challenging than breastfeeding a singleton, however, many of these challenges can be overcome with support, patience and practice.
Many moms worry about their ability to provide their babies with enough breast milk, but most are very capable of producing enough milk for more than one baby. Frequent breast stimulation and emptying of the breast
(either from direct breastfeeding or by pumping), breast massage, adequate nutrition, hydration and rest will help milk production.
Some moms may not produce enough milk for a variety of reasons and donor breast milk can be used to supplement babies with breast milk. Many times a physician's order is required to obtained donor breast milk from a milk bank.
Twins can be breastfed simultaneously or separately. In the early days, breastfeeding one baby at a time will help to ensure proper positioning at the breast, proper latch and milk transfer. Once you and your babies get the hang of breastfeeding and you have verified that they are breastfeeding effectively, you can begin breastfeeding your twins simultaneously (which is a big time-saver). When feeding two babies simultaneously, it may be helpful to position the more difficult feeder first and establish a good latch before positioning the next baby. With triplets, two babies can feed simultaneously (one on each breast) and the third can be offered both breasts or given a bottle of expressed breast milk and/or formula.
Babies should breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Follow your baby's hunger cues to guide the feedings. Both breasts should be offered and emptied each feeding to stimulate maximum milk production. There are a variety of tactics you can use to rotate the breast used at each feeding:
- One breast can be designated for one baby. Just make sure that each breast is emptied at the end of each feeding session.
- Alternate breasts between babies each feeding session. This helps keep breasts even.
- Alternate breasts between babies every other feeding session or
- Alternate breasts between the babies each day
Proper positioning during breastfeeding is essential for a proper latch and adequate milk transfer from the breast. Using pillows or nursing pillows can assist in positioning your babies and provide comfort and support (there are nursing pillows available for twins). Most of the same breastfeeding positions for feeding a single baby can be used to feed twins (with some slight modifications). The following positions can be used to feed two babies simultaneously:
- The Double Football Hold (The Double Clutch Hold)- Place each baby in the football hold at your side (one on each side).
- The Cross-Cradle Hold- Each baby is placed in the cradle-hold with one baby pressed against you (tummy-to-tummy) and the other pressed against the sibling (tummy-to-back).
- A Combination of the Football Hold and Cradle Hold- Place the first baby in the cradle hold across your body and the other baby in the football hold.
- The Parallel Hold- The first baby is in the cradle position and the other is facing the same direction as the first sibling. Use your hands to support each baby’s head and neck.
Although breastfeeding multiples can be challenging, it is very rewarding knowing that you are giving your babies the very best nutrition possible. Reaching out to a lactation consultant can help overcome some of the challenges to breastfeeding multiples. Connecting with other mothers of multiples can also provide much needed support and camaraderie.
Be sure to like, comment and share Babies 411 content with your friends to help keep babies healthy and safe.