From a Twin Mom and Lactation Consultant!
The thought of breastfeeding twins can be overwhelming. It is not the same as breastfeeding a singleton and there are definitely more hurdles you have to jump. But, I’ve made it to the other side and now I know it’s MORE THAN POSSIBLE.
When I was pregnant, I looked everywhere for twin breastfeeding information and there is little to no support out there. I felt like I was alone and had to figure this all out on my own. So I started an Instagram page and began sharing my experiences with the twins.
A little bit about me: My name is Becky Bernstein, I am a Nurse Practitioner and I specialize in pediatrics. I have 4 kids; 2 singletons (ages 7 and 6) and 2 year old twins. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my twins so I scoured the internet while I was pregnant to no avail. Nearly 3 years later and I am STILL breastfeeding them. It’s been an incredible experience and I want to share everything I’ve learned to let other twin moms know that it is possible and I want to help set everyone up for twin breastfeeding empowerment and success.
During this experience with the twins, I became a Certified Lactation Counselor and then an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I wanted to have the training and credentials to be able to help other women in the situations I have been in. So in this post, I want to share my Top 10 Twin Breastfeeding Tips!.
1. Have realistic expectations
Sounds weird, but set your bar for breastfeeding your twins low. If you happen to exceed it, then that’s amazing, if not, then you won’t feel like you have failed. Breastfeeding twins is another beast and it’s not the same as breastfeeding a singleton (which can be challenging in itself!).
I feel like as moms, we have these unrealistic expectations of parenthood and if we don’t live up to them, we are failures. That’s just a recipe for disaster. Having a baby is hard. Having twins is HARD. Don’t set yourself up to fail from the beginning. Lots of parenting is just literally surviving!
2. Take a twin-specific breastfeeding course while you’re pregnant
Did you know that studies show that women who receive comprehensive prenatal education end up breastfeeding longer and more successfully? That’s pretty awesome! However, not all breastfeeding courses are equal. Taking a singleton breastfeeding course when you’re having twins I’m sure can have benefits but there is so much more to take into consideration when you have twins.
That’s why I created a digital twin breastfeeding course called Twin Breastfeeding Academy that you can take at your own pace, from your house (or wherever you want!). You can check that out here if you’re interested. I put everything into that course because I want other women to know everything they need to know before they start on the twin breastfeeding journey that will set them up for the greatest success! My mission is to spread the word, educate, and empower parents about breastfeeding twins.
3. Work on latches separately
This is very important. I did not know this at first and it was a blessing in disguise that one of my twins went to the NICU when she was 2 days old. It allowed me to work on latching the twins separately and to really figure out each twin and give them the individual attention they needed. At first, I attempted to tandem feed them from the beginning, but I realized that one of my twins had a very shallow latch.
When one of the twins went to the NICU, I was able to breastfeed that twin in the NICU (and also pump milk for my other twin) and then I was able to breastfeed my other twin in my hospital room (and pump milk for my NICU twin). I was able to figure out my “difficult latcher” first before attempting the beast that is tandem feeding! And I think this is really important for twin moms to know, that each baby has their own latch and their own issues that need to be worked on.
4. Get familiar with your pump and parts before delivery
95% of breastfeeding twin moms end up pumping at some point, it’s just the nature of the beast. Whether it’s working on latches separately, NICU time, latching difficulty, sleepy babies, triple feeding, parallel pumping, there are a million reasons why you may need to pump.
Get your pump out of the box ahead of time, figure out the settings on your pump, sterilize all of your parts, figure out how everything is put together. This can be super helpful to do while you’re still pregnant because you will not be trying to scramble around, stressed out, rushing, with screaming babies!
5. Figure out the best way to pump and bottle feed your twins
THIS IS A MUST!! Because we have already established that you will likely be pumping and bottle feeding at some point, pumping and bottle feeding simultaneously can be a huge time and sanity saver. I wrote an entire post about this which you can read more about here.
And I’m not saying you’ll be pumping and bottle feeding indefinitely, unless that’s what you choose (many twin mamas become Exclusive Pumpers and that is awesome and that is breastfeeding!). But being able to pump to keep your supply up while working up to nursing can save your breastfeeding journey so just always keep that in the back of your mind.
6. Don’t expect to tandem feed immediately
Tandem feeding (nursing both babies at the same time) takes time, practice, and patience. Rarely can someone deliver twins and immediately put them both to breast and everything is perfect from there on out. I am not saying this to deter or scare anyone, I am just being realistic and honest with you from my personal and professional experience. Again, from tip number 1, we want to set realistic goals!
There are certain steps to work up to tandem feeding that I go over in my course in detail but there are a few criteria to meet before starting to attempt to tandem feed.
- Have a comfortable latch with both twins
- Don’t attempt tandem feeding by yourself at first, have another set of hands to help hand you the babies, help with latches, and everything else.
- When you feel comfortable latching the twins with another set of hands, then you can attempt latching them solo and I have a great setup for this. Ideally, you’ll be sitting on a couch with 2 boppies (and a twin on each boppy) on either side of you, then you will latch your more difficult latcher first (there is always one that’s more challenging) and then you’ll latch the second baby.
7. Have support set up for when you get home
Having a relationship with a lactation consultant with twin experience can be very beneficial for when you return from the hospital. You can set up a prenatal consult and schedule followups for when you’re home and in need of assistance with breastfeeding your twins.
I also offer virtual assistance if you don’t live in the Miami, Florida area that you can check out here. Otherwise, search your area for lactation support!
8. Get a good twin breastfeeding pillow
Investing in a good twin breastfeeding pillow like the Twin MyBrestFriend or the Twin Z Pillow will make a world of difference when you tandem feed your twins. Having a sturdy surface to place your twins while feeding and burping your twins will make your life so much easier. I used the Twin MyBrestFriend for about 17 months (then I just used their own bodies as pillows when they got bigger) but up until then, it was an absolute necessity and I took it everywhere.
I wrote a blog post comparing the popular twin breastfeeding pillows and you can check that out here.
9. Enlist in help at home
This is not a choice. You absolutely NEED HELP at home with your twins. Whether this is your spouse, your mom, your in laws, you hire someone to help, it just needs to be set in place. No, they obviously can’t breastfeed for you, but they can do just about everything else: they can clean all of your bottles and pump parts, they can do the dishes, they can wake your babies up for feeds, get them ready for feeds, get them dressed, put them down for naps, help take care of your older children if you have older children that need tending to.
Literally anything that needs to get done besides the physical act of nursing or pumping, they can do it. And DELEGATE IT OUT!!! Don’t feel like you need to do everything or you’ll get stressed and burnt out. Focus on feeding your babies and try and forget about the rest.
Let the house get a little messy, order take out, whatever you need to do, it is okay! I even had my 5 year old son help with bottle feeds!! Use whatever hands are willing to help!
10. Give yourself grace and expect bumps in the road
This is a very important tip… and don’t just brush it off. You need to give yourself the space to fail, for things not to be perfect, and to be okay with it! You can’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. Your experience is unique and it is okay and expected for things not to go as totally planned.
Having unrealistic goals and ideas of ourselves just sets us up for failure. Sometimes things are out of our control and that’s really such a huge lesson in parenting. Be kind to yourself. YOU HAVE TWINS! That is a lot to take on. The last thing we need is too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect.
You’ve got this mama!!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, I am here to support you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.