Exclusively Breastfeeding Twins

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Exclusively Breastfeeding Twins
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Is it Possible?

My Breastfeeding Journey started in 2007 when my son was born. Since my mother breastfed my sister and myself, I decided I'll do the same for my child. But back then I didn't know half of what I know now about breastfeeding and just how amazing breastmilk actually is.

That first latch was to be honest a weird feeling. I'm a very self-conscious person and the thought of a little person sucking on my breast at first freaked me out.

But I knew it was the healthiest choice for my son and that was enough to keep me going. As time went on, I got the hang of it and soon it turned into a very special experience.

I allowed my son to self-wean, which was somewhere between 16 and 17 months. I don't know exactly because I was too sad to make a mental note of the last time he fed. It just went from feeding once a day, to once every other day, to now and then and somewhere my breastfeeding journey with him ended.

My goal was actually to breastfeed until two years (the recommended age according to most experts), but I was happy that my son decided to stop on his own and that it wasn't my choice. I knew I gave him an excellent start to life!

Then in 2010 we decided to try for a second child, and of course got the surprise of our lives when the first ultrasound showed not just one, but two babies....

Did this influence my decision of breastfeeding... you bet it did!! I became much more determined to make my breastfeeding journey the second time around a success, especially since I now knew I was carrying twins.

You know, that thing everybody tells you is impossible to do?! This was it. The first words I heard was that I won't be able to have a natural birth and that exclusively breastfeeding twins was not possible. 

Thank goodness I knew someone personally who had breastfed twins successfully - for 18 months none the less. She was my mom's best friend and today she is my biggest inspiration and source of encouragement. Her twins are two boys my age and they are her 3rd and 4th children. I kept thinking that if she was able to breastfeed four kids for 18 months each, including twins, I can too.

And I did.

Of course it wasn't as easy as it was with just my son, but I did it.

My bigger Twincess breastfed like a pro from the start, but my smaller Twincess didn't. They took her away to tube feed via a nasogastric tube for the first night after struggling to get her latched.

At that stage I was too overwhelmed after the birth and seeing those two tiny babies (born at 35 weeks and 1 day) that I didn't even resist them doing it. I spent the first night bonding with my bigger Twincess. 

The next day though I realized that if I wanted to make a success of it, I needed to get my other baby back and try harder. So I asked every single person who entered my room to bring my baby so I can try again and eventually they did.

A lactation consultant came to see me and after hearing that I breastfed my son for so long, she spent all day helping me to get my Twincess latched.

It was gruelling. I was supposed to get up and walk around after the cesarean, but my focus that day was more on breastfeeding than on my own recovery. So I literally sat on that bed the entire day, feeding my bigger Twincess, trying to get my smaller Twincess latched, eating and drinking myself, changing nappies and feeding again. I only got up for toilet breaks.

Finally towards the end of that day and about 24 hours after the birth, my smaller Twincess latched and I gave a big sigh of relief! It wasn't as strong as I knew it should've been, but I didn't tell that to anyone else. I knew in my heart that we overcame the hurdle and that with time it will get better and easier. I just needed some undisturbed time with my new babies.

At around 6 weeks we noticed that she didn't gain much weight and our pediatrician recommended supplementing my breastmilk. Having learned all I have since having my son, I decided not to do that and instead got the help of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who is also a midwife. She taught me a few tricks and techniques to help my Twincess get in more hind milk. We also took both of them to a chiropractor and I spent more time skin to skin with her.

Guess what? It worked!

She gained weight without ever having a formula supplement.

During my breastfeeding journey with my Twincesses I also battled Raynaud's in my nipples. Winters were extremely painful and I did consider giving up a few times after crying through every feed. (Remember with two babies your breasts never get a break for a few hours.) But I'm glad I didn't, because it's only made me stronger and motivated me to help and encourage other moms.

From about two and half years old, we slowly transitioned into weaning (nursing only 2-3 times a week, then once a week, then on occasion...). My smallest Twincess only asked for boobie on rare occasions, my bigger Twincess was still a complete "boobaholic" and loved the closeness!

As we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week August 1st to 7th 2013, my Twincesses turn three years old on the 3rd. Somewhere my breastfeeding journey ended, without me even realizing it. *sniff*

I am both sad and happy this week, because I've far exceeded my goals for breastfeeding twins. But I'll miss those special moments of just sitting down and relaxing while staring into their faces, watching them interact with each other and just being amazed at how wonderful breastfeeding is on a physical and emotional level.

It's one of my greatest, if not the greatest, accomplishments in my life. I've proven all those disbelieving people, and sad to say doctors and nurses, wrong.

It is possible to exclusively breastfeed two babies at once, without supplementing. 

Yes it is hard work, it takes tons of effort and the challenges are quite different compared to just feeding one child. But the rewards and benefits far outweigh all that.

And to be honest, in my mind I still believe it was much less work than preparing bottles (x2), washing and sterilizing (x2), getting the temperature right (x2) all while having crying hungry babies (yes, x2)....

But that's just the way I see it! (",)

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Breastfeeding Positions for Twins

Elsabe from South Africa, breastfeeding her twin babies for the first time.

Moms of twins understand that there are special challenges in raising two babies at one time. Parents of singletons simply cannot know how hard it is to hold a pair of squirming children in only two arms or stand on one foot while using a changing table, because the other foot is rocking a cradle. Nursing twins presents a similar problem. Yes you have two boobs, but keeping both babies latched on can sometimes seem like a magic trick. Here are some tips and tricks for breastfeeding twins. 

The weight of a sibling's feet, head or body can be comforting

Nursing Positions for Twins

Most of the trouble that arises in breastfeeding two babies is figuring out the logistics of positioning them. It might seem easier at first to feed each baby separately, but new moms find that it just takes too much time and energy. Feeding the babies at the same time makes a lot more sense.  

Some breastfeeding positions for twins can seem awkward at first, but it will become easier over time. Keep in mind that babies are unique individuals and are going to have different preferences and needs, when it comes to feeding. With that in mind, these are some typically successful positions. 

 

• Knees Up

Lean against a headboard or the back of a sturdy chair, and raise your knees almost to your chest. Allow the babies to recline against your thighs, with their faces toward your breast. Use a pillow to prop your breasts or babies if needed. 

 

• Under the Arms 

Sit against the headboard of the bed or in a comfortable chair. Put a pillow behind your back for comfort. Hold each child under one arm like a football, supporting their bodies with pillows if necessary. The babies will be comfortable on their backs with just their chests lifted slightly toward the breasts. 


• Across the Chest 

When your babies are small, you can lay them across your chest with one slightly stacked on top of the other. You use your arms to cradle them both. This may seem uncomfortable for the babies, but keep in mind that the babies have spent many months pushed up against each other. The weight of a sibling's feet, head or body can be comforting. 

  

• Mix It Up 

Experiment with different ways of moving your babies until you come up with a position that is pleasant for all three of you. There is no reason you cannot hold one baby under your arm, while you use your other arm to cradle the second baby. Twins breastfeeding positions should be modified specifically to accommodate your children. 

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Exclusively Breastfeeding Twins
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Additional Tips 

Relax and enjoy this special time

• Pump 

Pumping isn't fun, but it can be helpful when you are trying to keep two babies satisfied. Sometimes you may find that you don't have enough milk for both babies and/or your perfect idea of twins breastfeeding might not be working out one day. It can be nice to have breast milk on hand for these times. 

 

• Relax 

Being calm is one of the hardest things a new mom can do, but it is the best way you can keep the stress out of breastfeeding. Stay calm and know that breastfeeding doesn't go perfectly one hundred percent of the time. These are, after all, unique little people you are trying to care for. Their needs are going to be different from each other, and each child may have different preferences, day to day.  

There is no one magic formula on how to breastfeed twins, but there are techniques you can use to make the process a more comforting and loving experience for the whole family.  

Breastfeeding older twins ~ The ballerina pose


Latching your Babies

More information about latching premature babies

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Breastfeeding Twins & Milk Supply Issues

Below the featured comments, you will find a few helpful links about breastfeeding twins, and ways to increase your milk production.

Feel free to ask questions, or just share your journey with us. We would love to hear from you!

Low milk supply with Twins

twinsby Niki 
(Cyprus)

"Μy twins spent the first month of their lives in intensive care. They had TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome). 

I asked the nurses to see if I could produce milk after the c-section, since I'd heard milk production is more difficult in this case. 

Everything seemed ok, so I started pumping every 2-3 hours...my milk supply was next to nothing...I managed 10 mls every day...which was pitiful for twins, even if their meal was 15 mls when they were born at 43 weeks. 

I pumped obsessively, wanted to give my little ones the best, especially since they seemed so fragile covered in tubes and wired....sometimes I pumped for 1 h and a half, just slept for 30 min and started over again...it did not work.

When one of the twins got out weighing 2 kg we visited a nursing councellor. She said not to expect him to help me produce more until he;s 3,5 kg but that he's latching on well...then the second one came out, I still pumped like crazy...Formula feeding was necessary, I never risked starving them. 

I tried to breastfeed them, even both of them together, they cried their lungs out, obviously from hunger and , defeated, I turned to the bottle every night. The doctor in intensive care had commented on the fact that my breasts were not swollen and that I had lost that "window" of creating a steady milk supply....

I guess she was right...The first three months of their lives I rented a double pump pumped, put them to the breast, too, they still were hungry and were bottle fed. I took fenugreek pills.9 a day, special tea, hot showers, massaging before pumping...the works. 

I don't think I slept through the night even once for 3 months. And I was happy for it. I did it for them. But I never got more than 60 mls a day....When I went back to work, I pretty much gave up...I still have a few drops and manage to extract less than 10 mls a day....my mom says its better than nothing and its like medicine to them. But I cant help but feel incompetent..I thought about taking this pill that stops your milk altogether because I can't bear the site of those insufficient few drops...but then again I change my mind and decide to try again...I still don't know what to do and they are 6 months old..Not aiming at exclusively breastfeeding twins heaven forbid....just a reasonable amount...I would be in seventh heaven if I could offer them a meal a day....But i don't think this is ever going to happen...imagine I never wanted to breastfeed before the babies came. I guess the joke's on me now..." 

Dec 26, 2013

You rock, mama! 
by: Lyssa 


"Breastfeeding isn't always easy after a c-section, and even more difficult when you cannot directly latch the babies or do skin to skin. 

From what you have told me, it sounds like you are an amazing mom to have worked so hard to get your babies the best! I know they appreciate it and have benefited from it! 

And now it may be time to focus on what YOU need as a mom to be happy and healthy. If being happy and healthy means continuing to pump, then do it! 

If being happy and healthy means congratulating yourself on 6 hard fought months and moving on, that is okay, too! You are not a failure! 

You have given your babies the best! And you need to do what is right for you, your babies, and your family." 


Jan 07, 2014

Thanks, Lyssa... 
by: Niki 


"Dear Lyssa,
the 25th was my birthday so your comment is like a gift to me...
To tell you the truth, I actually came to the same conclusion. I know I tried, even if not hard enough for some. That was me, trying. And I cannot be blamed for that!
I decided to quit! It made me depressed to feel like a disappointment and it felt like I was not accepting the truth and I was lying to myself.

Since the twins have started on solid foods 3 times a day by now(they're 7 months old), I feel confident that they're getting all they need even if it's not from mom. And not being a selfish mom, I feel completely satisfied with that.

You are so right, bottom line. Babies are much happier with a happy mom than with a breasfeeding mom or a pumping mom...thanks again! It's good to see someone can actually see clearly through all the Sears bs...

BUT I will not lie. I feel a little twitch in my heart when I hear a mom's still breastfeeding at 7 months or more. But I'll get over that, too!!!"  


Jan 20, 2014

Exclusively Breastfeeding Twins ~ 

...by Elsabe 

"All excited about finally being pregnant again after 6 months of trying to conceive, we got the surprise of our lives... "Hold on to your shoes, because here's baby number two..." were the doctor's words. I think my heart stopped beating for a few seconds, I gave Hubby a smack and started laughing and crying all at once. I stared at that screen thinking this can't be real! But it was. And now I was even more determined to make a success of breastfeeding my second and third child. Even though I immediately got told that I would have to have a c-section and have to accept that I won't be able to breastfeed exclusively with two babies.

Unfortunately the c-section did realise, because the smaller twin was breech first and the bigger twin transverse. But we got the breastfeeding right! My twincesses, Tammy Grace and Alizah Katelyn turned one year old on 3 August 2011 and I'm very proud to say they have never had any supplement formula in their lives, only breastmilk.

Alizah immediately took to the breast after the birth and I had a flashback of Jayden when he was born and took to the breast like a pro too. Tammy, the smaller one, unfortunately didn't. She had low blood sugar and wouldn't latch, so they tube fed her for the first night. But I kept telling every single staff member that I want to breastfeed only and asked them to bring her to me. The next morning the lactation consultant came and brought her to me. After hearing that I breastfed my son for 17 months, she was even more willing to help and encourage me, which was great. She was the only person there who had faith in me. 

We sat all day working to get Tammy latched. I have never prayed so much in one day as I did that day. The only breaks I took was to go to the loo and eat. The rest of the time I was either feeding Alizah or trying to get Tammy latched. It was grueling, my wound was sore, I was supposed to be moving around more, but all I wanted was to feed both my babies. By evening, she finally latched and what a relief!!

The next day by lunch time, we all went home. Yes, we only spent 3 days in hospital. A miracle actually, because they were born at only 35w1d. And besides the fact that I started dilating at 31 weeks, was on bedrest at home and a week of strict bedrest in hospital before the birth, they spend no time in NICU, and we had no issues other than getting Tammy latched. 

At home I could focus on learning the art of feeding two babies at once. Hubby was home for a week and helped a lot. Once all the family and friends were done visiting and everyone went home and back to work, I was a bit overwhelmed by suddenly having 3 kids to care for. Eventually I started feeding them one after the other, simply because it was difficult picking up two babies and positioning them correctly. It meant more crying as one had to wait a bit, but I could handle it better and wasn't scared of hurting them anymore by picking them up with one hand only, especially as they got bigger.

We had one bout of thrush after they had ear infections and were put on antibiotics. The second time around, after the treatments for - what I thought was recurring thrush - weren't working, I learned that it was in fact Raynaud's.

My nipples had red patches before a fed and afterwards white spots, almost looking like blisters. When I took a shower it would even have blue patches, I still remember Hubby commenting on it one night and I told him I was just cold, after all it was winter. But an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) told me those are typical signs of Raynaud's. The best thing to do is to keep warm. 

With all my attempts to treat the "thrush", I was airing my nipples too much, which made them cold and even more painful. In fact, it was so painful, I cried every single time I fed my girls. They were about 8 months old at that stage and I was soooo close to giving up. Having not just one, but TWO babies sucking on painful nipples, day and night, is seriously not for the faint hearted!

I still struggle with the pain some days, but it's not as bad anymore. And reading and learning more about breastmilk and it's amazing benefits, helps me to push through. In anyway, I've proved all the unbelieving doctor's and nurses wrong for a year now, why should I stop? We've worked too hard to get here.

As for how one can feed two babies... as I said I did hold them both football hold for about the first 2 months, but preferred feeding one after the other. Once they were able to sit by themselves and became more mobile, I started feeding them together again. Our favourite position is one cradled (normal hold) and one football (as in the photo). Now that they are cruising, and just about walking, we have 'gymnurstics' and have all weird and wonderful positions.

The best part about breastfeeding twins is watching them try to copy each other! And if one dares let go of the boobie, the other will hijack it and take a few sips, just in case it might taste better than the one they had LOL! They hold hands while nursing, play with each other's hair, and even pull the boobie out of the other's mouth if they're feeling mischevious. It's such a special and unique bond to witness. 

Breastfeeding twins is possible. It's hard work and a very different experience than I had with my son, but I love every moment of it. It surely has double the rewards!! <3"

~*~ TwincessMama ~*~


Jul 03, 2012

simply awesome 
by: aarya 

"Its so touching to read your story, and hats-off for not giving up and breastfeeding your twins this long. I breastfed my first child(son) exclusively for 21 months. Now I have my 22-days old baby girl. I am planning to breastfeed her as long as I can, and you are a true inspiration to all mothers :)"


Sep 26, 2012

Such a wonderful mom 
by: racha's momy 

"I feel very happy when I read such stories, as I faced lots of problems during the first 2 months after giving birth to my daughter, one of my breasts was engorged and the nipple was about to ''fall'', I cried every time I had to feed her, but never gave up. She is still breastfeeding now at the age of 18 months, and I am about to give birth to my second baby in 3 weeks, so planning on tandem nursing.

You are very, very brave and such a wonderful mom, God bless you and your lovely family."


Jan 14, 2013

Inspirational mother! 
by: Anonymous 

"Very inspiring to read your story my little boy is 3 weeks old. I am breast feeding him and some days find it hard, my back aches a lot so I'm not sure my positioning is the best, but I get such a rush when I take him to get weighed and he's gained nearly a lb :)

So glad I read your story as its put any thoughts of formula feeding out of my mind now. As I was considering it due to lack of support and people constantly suggesting it to me. I'm determined to stick it out this time. Only managed 2 weeks with my other little boy, again due to lack of support and not knowing if I was doing anything right. But thank you for posting your story. And a massive well done!!"

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Yes, it can be done!


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