by Jenny Busbey, BSN, RN, IBCLC
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way for mothers to nourish and bond with their babies. While it can be an incredible experience, breastfeeding twins presents a unique set of joys and challenges. The journey of breastfeeding two little ones simultaneously requires patience and a committed support system. In this article, we will explore the benefits of breastfeeding twins, practical tips to make the process smoother, and how to overcome common obstacles along the way.
Breastfeeding twins offers numerous benefits, both for the babies and the mother. Firstly, breast milk provides tailored nutrition that adapts to the needs of each individual baby. It contains essential nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes that boost their immune systems and support their overall development. Breast milk also lowers the risk of various illnesses, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and contributes to better long-term health outcomes.
For the parent, breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding and helps reduce postpartum bleeding. It also aids in shrinking the uterus and assists with weight loss after childbirth. Additionally, breastfeeding twins can be a time-efficient option compared to bottle feeding, as it eliminates the need for preparation and sterilization of bottles, saving both time and money.
Practical Tips for Breastfeeding Twins:
Establish a routine
Creating a breastfeeding schedule that works for both babies can be immensely helpful. Try to feed them simultaneously whenever possible, as it can save time and allow you to rest in between feedings. This can take some time, practice, and persistence. The more you practice with positioning and holds, the more comfortable it will get. As babies mature and get stronger they will need less support with latching and staying latched while feeding.
Find a comfortable and supportive nursing position. Experiment with different holds, such as the double-cradle, football, or combination hold, to determine what works best for you and your babies. Having a support person is very beneficial in the first few weeks to months while you practice positions and holds to help you with latching the second baby while the first baby is nursing.
Reach out to an IBCLC, lactation consultant, specializing in multiples. They can provide valuable guidance, tips, and support tailored to your specific needs. Having the professional support of a lactation consultant can make all the difference in the beginning and help you to achieve breastfeeding twins.
Utilize breastfeeding aids
Consider using breastfeeding pillows or twin nursing pillows to support your babies and provide additional comfort during feedings. These aids can help position the babies properly, reducing strain on your back, arms, and neck. Twin pillows are larger than the average nursing pillow and can help support both babies so you can breastfeed both babies tandemly.
Pumping and storing milk
Expressing breast milk using a pump can be beneficial, allowing others to assist with feedings and providing flexibility in your routine. Invest in a quality breast pump or rent a hospital-grade pump and review proper storage techniques to ensure the milk remains safe for consumption. Be sure to work closely with your lactation consultant when reviewing breast pumps and creating a schedule for pumping, if needed for your little ones. Hospital-grade rental pumps, such as the Medela Symphony, are recommended in the first few months to help establish a milk supply and are very important if you are separated from either one or both babies.
A proper latch is crucial to prevent nipple soreness. Seek assistance from an IBCLC to ensure both babies latch correctly, avoiding pain and discomfort.
Low milk supply
Breastfeeding twins often requires a higher milk supply. To boost production, ensure you are drinking plenty of water, eating a nutritious diet (at least 500 calories extra per day), and considering herbal supplements, as advised by your lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding twins can be demanding, and fatigue is common. Remember to prioritize self-care, rest whenever possible, and accept help from family members, friends, or a partner to lighten the load. Your job as a new mom is to feed your babies and get proper rest, all of the other responsibilities of the household should be carried by your support people in the first weeks after delivery.
Breastfeeding twins is a fulfilling and nurturing experience that brings immeasurable joy to both mother and babies. It may present challenges, but with patience, support, and the right tools, breastfeeding twins can be a rewarding journey. Remember to stay connected with professionals and support networks who can guide and encourage you along the way. Embrace this special time with your twins, cherishing the beautiful bond that breastfeeding fosters while providing them with the many benefits of breast milk.
Breastfeeding can be hard for new parents. It can sometimes also feel like a lonely journey. In many cases, even with the help of family, friends and trained medical personnel, there are still obstacles that can arise that make breastfeeding a struggle. Lactation Consultants provide the support you need to navigate these challenges.
What is a Lactation Consultant?
Lactation consultants are experts on breastfeeding and lactation management who provide one-to-one support to parents and families in their breastfeeding journey. They are typically certified lactation consultants, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC), or healthcare professionals such as Registered Nurses, Midwives or Doulas. They also have extensive knowledge and experience working with pregnant women and new parents.
Who needs a Lactation Consultant?
Lactation consultants work with families experiencing breastfeeding challenges. They can also work with new and expecting parents who are preparing to breastfeed. They are experienced and skilled professionals who are knowledgeable in the latest research on lactation, infant nutrition, breastfeeding techniques, pumping and storage of breast milk, maternal nutrition, and other related topics. In addition, lactation consultants offer personalized advice that helps mothers overcome all types of breastfeeding challenges and work to support families meet their goals.
Are breastfeeding challenges common?
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding challenges are very common. Over 70% of new mothers report experiencing some degree of difficulty. But experiencing challenges doesn’t mean breastfeeding should stop. Working with a professional such as a lactation consultant can help improve the simplest to most complex issues. They help educate parents and families how to manage life with a new baby who needs to be fed, ways to support or improve milk production, or how to use a breast pump.
What kind of challenges do lactation consultants help with?
● Latching difficulties– Latching difficulty happens when it’s hard for a baby to latch onto the parent’s breast. It makes it difficult for the baby to get enough milk. Latching difficulties can also be hard on the parent. Many women report feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and helpless. Lactation consultants are skilled in assessing and resolving latching difficulties. They start by taking a detailed history of the breastfeeding experience, feeding history, health of the infant and the parent, review feeding goals, and then use their specialized skills to tailor support to make sure both, the baby and the parent, are supported and thriving.
- Sore nipples– Sore nipples can be a difficult and even painful experience for new mothers. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this issue impacts almost 90% of new mothers. Sore nipples go beyond making women feel uncomfortable, tender, and painful while breastfeeding. It can cause a low milk supply and lead to further issues with breastfeeding. Lactation consultants use various techniques to help relieve and resolve nipple discomfort. These include addressing the latching position, helping the mother adjust the way she is holding her baby, providing breastfeeding education, proper flange fitting for pumping and more.
- Low milk production– Low milk production is another breastfeeding challenge that often makes moms feel frustrated or helpless. When a mother is not producing enough milk, it can lead to issues and concerns that babies are not getting enough food and sustenance. Fortunately, lactation consultants are well-versed in helping mothers solve this issue. One technique they may employ is called breast compression, in which the lactation consultant gently squeezes the mother’s breast while she is nursing to help stimulate milk production and keep the milk flowing for longer periods.
- Mastitis – Mastitis is a condition where the mother’s breast becomes painful, swollen, and infected. It happens to about 10%-20% of mothers who are breastfeeding. Lactation consultants provide advice on effective strategies to relieve and soothe pain, such as frequent feedings, warm compresses, and the use of therapeutic herbs.
These are just a few of the challenges that lactation consultants can help with. If you’re having difficulty breastfeeding or if you simply want to be better prepared for your feeding journey, hiring a lactation consultant near you may be an invaluable resource.
Can you breastfeed with a nipple piercing?
There is so much misinformation about nipple piercing and breastfeeding but in short answer, yes most women can find success during this process. Many new parents think they are unable to breastfeed or have been told that it’s not possible for them but that’s not always true. Although there are some adjustments that may need to be made during this process, breastfeeding with a nipple piercing is something that is achievable for most parents.
Important things with nipple piercing
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to make sure the nipple piercing is fully healed before getting pregnant. Doctors recommend a 12–18-month healing period. There are certain channels that are formed in the healing process so the body can still successfully produce and express milk. It is imperative that those channels are fully healed before your body’s new hormones start to change. Another reason those need to be healed is so that the saliva from the baby will not cause an infection. There is less likelihood of this happening if the piercing is given plenty of time to heal properly.
Breastfeeding with nipple piercings
Something to be aware of while breastfeeding with nipple piercings is that it has the potential to increase the milk flow rate while the baby is breastfeeding. This can occur when the piercing is removed and there is extra milk flowing due to the larger opening. The increased milk flow and feeding should be evaluated by an IBCLC to make sure feedings are going well and to evaluate if the baby can manage any increase in flow rate. The nipple piercing is recommended to be removed during a feeding session to avoid the risk of passing bacteria to the child and avoiding a potential choking hazard and it also helps reduce problems with the baby latching to the breast.
Nipple piercing considerations
It is important to note that professional piercers will not create a nipple piercing for someone who is pregnant or breastfeeding, and they recommend waiting at least 3 months post-breastfeeding to either pierce or re-pierce your nipples. This will ensure your body has plenty of time to establish a milk supply and milk flow during the postpartum and give your body the opportunity to support a healthy safe re-piercing of the nipple. The most important thing you can do is to research and make an informed decision for your body.