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Breastfeeding twins is usually a worry for most moms to be, since they worry whether they will have enough milk to feed both the babies. However, there are very few mothers who do not have enough milk to feed their twins since milk production works on the principle of demand and supply. The extra stimulation by two or more babies sucking, results into your body producing the milk they need. When the baby sucks at the breast, two hormones are released- PROLACTIN (which simulates more milk production) and OXYTOCIN (which releases the milk from the breast). This release is called the ‘let down’ or milk ejection reflex. This is an important mechanism with which milk is made available to the babies.
Can a Woman Produce Enough Breast Milk for Twins?
Yes, a woman can produce enough milk each time she breastfeeds her twins since the body works on a demand and supply basis. Knowing how breastfeeding works will help you understand how this is possible. Going forward, the knowledge gives one the confidence to continue breastfeeding when such a situation arises even when your babies are demanding and you as well as others begin to question your milk supply. This continuous demand for milk, in turn, increases the supply of milk in the mother.
What to Do for Producing Enough Milk?
There may be instances where you feel as though you do not have enough milk to give to your baby. You might feel this way if your baby isn’t gaining weight or if your nipples feel sore by the time you’ve finished feeding. Here are a few techniques that you could use to increase your milk supply:
- Since the production of milk relies heavily on the demand, the more you feed your babies, the more the supply of milk will be. So, in order to produce more milk, one must feed the babies more often.
- It is at times seen that new mothers in the initial phase panic while breastfeeding but there is no reason to do so. In fact, one must relax while breastfeeding. The more you relax, better the supply of milk.
- Lactating mothers should also consume a minimum of 1800 calories a day and drink at least 6 glasses of water daily to increase their supply of milk.
- Pumping also helps in simulating more breast milk.
- Undressing the child while breastfeeding helps the baby to feed for a longer time and longer the session of feeding, more is the production of milk.
- Offering both the breasts, one at a time, in every feed helps, as it prompts the body to produce more milk. Therefore, one should switch breasts as soon as the baby slows down.
Benefits of Nursing Twins
Below are some of the advantages of breastfeeding:
- A mother’s milk is considered the most nutritive food for babies. This is because mother’s milk has antibodies which boost the baby’s immune system. It thus helps the baby fight diseases and infections.
- Breast milk also has special benefits for babies who are premature, which is mostly the case in twins.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than commercial infant formula milk; this is especially relevant for premature babies who have smaller and less mature intestines and stomachs.
- Beyond the health benefits that breast milk offers, it is also the most convenient and least expensive way to feed your babies.
Do You Need to Stick to a Breast Feeding Routine With Your Twins?
The breastfeeding twins schedule should be according to the demand of the babies; that is, you should feed the babies when they want to be fed. However, during growth spurts in babies at approximately 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks,3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months, early nap waking and increased night waking due to hunger, is seen. During these times, the mother should allow the babies to feed more. This helps the babies to sustain themselves.
Apart from these periods, whenever the baby wakes up early, the mother should treat this as a signal that the baby is hungry and him/her. In case you suspect a low supply of milk, you should feed the child after every two hours during the day.
Feeding Twins Together or One at a Time
Initially, for new mothers, it is easy to breastfeed one baby at a time. However, once you get the hang of it, you can feed both the babies together. Letting both your kids drink milk simultaneously is quicker and allows the mother to get time to sleep, focus on chores or do some other work. Since both your twins are different individuals, one may need more milk than the other. This means that there will be instances where you would eventually feed only one of your twins
Positions for Feeding Twins Together
There are several positions to breastfeed twins at the same time. However, one must choose the correct position- one which is comfortable and which enables the correct latch for the babies. Here are a few positions to choose from:
Double Clutch or the Twins Football Hold:
In this position, one must hold each baby in a clutch or football hold. Each baby must be placed on a pillow beside the mother, almost under her arm so that the babies’ legs point towards the back of the chair. The baby’s back should be supported by the inside of the mother’s forearm. After having done so, the babies’ heads should be at the nipple level and the palms of the mother should be used to hold the back of the babies
Each of the baby heads should be in each of the mother’s arms. The heads may rest in the bend of the mother’s arm near the elbow and the bodies will be in the lap with the legs towards the mother’s abdomen.
Tips for Nursing Twins
How to breastfeed twins is a frequently asked question. Nursing twins, especially for first-time mothers can be hard and cumbersome at the same time. Getting mentally prepared to nurse twins and to relax is the foremost thing to do before starting. Here are a few tips to help you along
- During the pregnancy period, one must read and gather as much information on breastfeeding. Books, DVDs, leaflets and ante-natal classes could help.
- Try and breastfeed your twins as soon as possible after birth. Colostrum, which is full of antibodies, nutrients and fat, is found in the mother’s milk soon after a child is born.
- If you are unable to breastfeed after giving birth, then try to at least make sure that there is physical contact between you and both your offspring.
- It is advisable to keep interchanging your twins between breasts frequently so that it helps to equalize the mother’s milk production in each breast.
- Mothers should stay calm and relaxed since a relaxed mind increases the supply of milk.
- A mother of twin babies should be organized as haphazard planning can lead to issues such as one twin getting more feed than the other.
- Getting adequate rest should be top on the priority list of nursing mother of twins. It will help in relaxing the mind thereby increasing the milk supply of nursing mothers.
- It is important to make sure that the nipple is latched on correctly by the baby or it could lead to soreness. Initially, one can ask the midwife or the wife to ensure correct latching.
- In case a mother wants to express milk, she should investigate various options and invest in a breast pump as it can make the task of expressing milk less labour intensive.
- Try to avoid bottle feeding formula milk until and unless necessary because the more the baby breastfeeds, the more is the supply of milk. Moreover, breastfeeding helps in the emotional bonding between the children and the mother since there is skin to skin contact between the mother and her children.
- Having “nursing stations”, several places in your house where you can sit or lie down and nurse your babies is a good way to soothe and relax yourself while you feed the babies. When the mother is calm and relaxed, the supply of milk automatically increases.
Usually, first-time mothers, especially mothers of twins, are anxious when it comes to breastfeeding. They have a lot of questions regarding nursing their babies as twins can seem like double trouble. Below, we have curated some of the most commonly asked questions by parents around the world who have to deal with twins.
What Takes Longer? Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding?
They both roughly take the same time provided that both breasts are utilised for breastfeeding. The only difference is that after breastfeeding, once the babies are done, you are done too, but in case of bottle feeding, you must take into consideration the amount of time it takes to clean and sterilise the bottle and to prepare the formula.
Is It Fine to Combine Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding?
It is perfectly fine to combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding using formula milk or expressed milk. It especially works well for mothers when they go back to work and have trouble pumping milk every day. However, it is advisable to nurse your baby as much as possible, even if it is once or twice a day. Although formula milk provides all the nutrients, it lacks the unique antibodies that only mother’s milk contains
Can I Breastfeed Babies if They Are in Special Care or NICU?
You can absolutely breastfeed your babies even if they are in special care or NICU. You can feed your baby from a bottle, a feeding tube or an IV since mother’s milk has antibodies which help the babies to grow and develop.
Will My Nipple Be Sore If I Feed More Than One Baby?
Breastfeeding twins or more than one baby does not make you more likely to sore nipples. Soreness in the nipple is caused chiefly by incorrect latching on or positioning of the babies. Therefore, you should take a nurse or a midwife’s help initially to learn the correct method of positioning your baby correctly before breastfeeding. Soreness may be due to some other reason, and should be identified and treated.
When Will I Get a Break From Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding, especially twins can be very draining and tedious. However, you can take a short coffee break at a nearby cafe, go for an evening stroll at a nearby park, take a nap or read a book in between feeds and when your babies are asleep. Once the babies start weaning, you can take longer breaks and start going out for a movie at a theatre or for some retail therapy too. If you are waiting to wean your babies, you may be happy to know that this is a personal decision and the answers depends on the readiness of the babies as well as the mother.
During the past decade, the benefits of breastfeeding have been emphasised upon by many authorities and organizations all over the world. It is probably the most ancient form of feeding a baby and has existed since the beginning of time. It is advised to exclusively breast-feed babies for the first six months of their lives, and this is true of twins too. As mentioned earlier, breastfeeding is especially beneficial for twins as they are often premature. So go ahead and overcome your inhibitions about breastfeeding twins, and the task is sure to become easier as you get a hang of how to do it.