We had a difficult start when my twin boys Luke and Cole were born over a year ago. They were eight weeks premature and had to stay in the NICU for two weeks before we were able to bring them home. They weren’t able to nurse until around their due date, but I pumped milk until we got their tongue tie issues straightened out. There were several times when I wanted to just quit, pumping and bottle feeding for two babies every three hours when they first came home. It was rough, but we pushed through it and once we were able to leave the bottles behind and start tandem nursing (double football hold) things got much easier.
Last month my babies turned a year old and we are still nursing. Now that they are older it is so much easier because it only takes 10-20 minutes to nurse. Solid foods are well established in their diet now, I can’t wait to finish up the last of the baby food jars! Although table food/finger food is now a good portion of their diet, I plan to continuing to nursing 4 times a day until they are developmentally one year (their due date). After that, I plan on gradually dropping feeds until they stop being interested in nursing.
Nursing twins has been such a great experience for me but it was challenging at first. It really helped me to connect with my babies on an individual level. I do not think that I would have done it any differently.
If you are planning on nursing multiples, here are a few things I recommend:
- Anticipate that you will have to pump and bottle feed first, then get them on the breast. Try to secure a hospital grade pump if possible (I used a Medela pump in style later on, but it did not compare to the ameda pump we borrowed from our local WIC office).
- If they are in the NICU, be sure to have them check for any tongue tie issues (if the skin under the tongue is connected all the way to the tip of the tongue) which is routine in regular hospital nurseries. The earlier you can get it figured out, the better.
- Make room in your fridge for milk storage, but don’t over pump you shouldn’t need to stockpile. Pumping more milk that what you need for a feed can cause all kinds of problems for you and the babies. (engorgement for mom, gassy babies because babies can’t get to the hind milk)
- I had two boppy pillows, an EZ to Nurse Twin pillow, and a couple small pillows to help prop the babies up when they were really small.
- Start out slow when trying to get them to the breast. Try once a day, one baby per feed, plan to follow up with the bottle. It will probably not all happen perfectly at once.
- Tandem nurse as soon as you can, when they are little feeds can be 30 minutes and you will probably be feeding them every 3-4 hours. Then when their feeds start getting shorter, try to go to individual nursing sessions.
- Don’t worry about switching sides during a feed. It will be better for them to stay on the same side to get a full feed (foremilk and hindmilk). I alternated what side they nursed on at feeding times.
- Make sure that you are eating enough. You should be eating at least 1500 calories plus 500 calories for each baby. Not eating enough can effect your milk supply, decrease your energy, and actually slow your metabolism down so that you don’t loose weight.
Breastfeeding my multiples has been one of the hardest things I have ever set my mind to, but I am so glad I was able to push through the difficult times.