How to breastfeed twins alone

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Breastfeeding one baby is hard enough but breastfeeding two at a time makes it harder, but it is not by any means impossible. Some parents may have already experienced tandem feeding with an older child, some may not and others may be experiencing breastfeeding twins as their first experience.

The first thing to remember is that women will always make enough and will match the demand of their child – although some people do experience low milk supply, it is generally something that is rare and made out to be common.

It is the baby that manages the supply rather than the parent – so long as they are allowed to feed on demand at the nipple, they will let mum know how much to make.

Now that is out of the way, here are some tips to breastfeed twins alone, comfortably.

Help them master the latch

Aside from a lack of support, the quality of the latch is the most common cause of breastfeeding problems. The nipple should reach the roof of their mouth and they should not labour to get the milk out. Helping your little ones to latch properly makes everyone’s lives easier – if you’re struggling make sure to seek your local breastfeeding support, your midwife as well as the casual breastfeeding groups. In our experience, the best advice comes from other breastfeeding mums as they are living the experience with you.

Cracked and sore nipples shouldn’t happen, it is usually caused by a poor latch – so don’t think you’ll need nipple creams just because there’s two! A good latch is half the work.

Tandem feed

Tandem feeding is the act of feeding two infants at the same time. Tandem feeding when you have twins and you’re alone can offer many benefits:

  • Bolsters milk supply
  • Improves the bond of the siblings
  • Reduces the overall number of feeds in a day
  • You will have two full babies at once

Feeding them individually can be exhausting, tandem feeding can make it slightly less as they are both fed at once and become full at once which can give you a longer gap for your poor nipples to recover. Tandem feeding can also lead to two of them falling asleep at the breast at the same time which can give you some much needed rest.

Practice the rugby hold

The rugby hold is a comfortable feeding position for twins as there’s no crossover of legs as you would get with the cradle hold. This position may be your most common when tandem feeding.

It’s worth practicing this position as soon as possible so that you feel comfortable doing it over long periods.

Invest in nursing equipment

Investing in solid nursing equipment will go a longer way with twins than without – you’ll be breastfeeding more, not twice the amount, but a lot more. Nursing chairs that have the space for the rugby hold, nursing pillows to rest their heads and decent pillows for back support are great.

Sync their feeds

This one is tricky as each sibling is different, with their own personality and metabolism. However, getting into the habit of feeding them both roughly around the same time can help you learn when they’ll be hungry next and so on. If they are always fed separately this can mean you are breastfeeding practically 24/7 with no breaks, whereas if they both have full tummies at the same time it can give you a bit of a rest.

Swap breasts

Ensure that your twins don’t just have the same breast for each feed. When tandem feeding, swap them around after a certain point. This helps the breasts be stimulated evenly so that one doesn’t overproduce by one baby who feeds more, it’s also handy for making antibodies if one twin is sick and not the other.

Get the breasts empty

It is handy to encourage your twins to empty one or both breasts during a feed. Make sure they don’t get distracted by the TV or people talking – a quiet comfortable room is the best place to do it. When the breast is full, the first milk is more watery and helpful for hydration, the milk behind it is denser and packs more nutrients and that is what we want their tummies to be full of.

Having your breastmilk emptied regularly keeps up the supply, it means that it can evolve and change quicker as they get older and also useful for the bed time feed.

Express, but don’t do it exclusively

Expressing or pumping can be useful for many things, but it’s important not to do it exclusively as contact with the nipple helps change and evolve the milk to suit the baby. They should be fed from the nipple at least once a day or the milk will never change and they could end up drinking newborn milk when they’re 3 months old. With that out of the way, here’s some benefits to expressing when you are feeding twins

  • Lets someone else feed them (even both!)
  • Give your nipples a break
  • Helps to empty the breast if the twins are unable to do so
  • Keeps the milk supply up