Whether nature is working its magic or fertility treatments are doing their job, multiple births are becoming more common. Wow! Just imagine how great it would be to be born with your best friend.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there were the following multiple births in 2014 in Australia – 4316 sets of twins, representing 1.5% of all births and 65 sets of triplets and higher order multiples, representing 0.02% of all births.
Welcoming two, or more, babies into the world is a joyful and exhilarating experience for a family and, while it’s true that multiples present unique challenges, most of these are totally manageable. This is especially true when it comes to breastfeeding. For this post, we will try to keep our focus to twins, since this is the most common of the multiple births.
The first thing that might be on your mind is “will I be able to produce enough breastmilk to feed these two?” This is usually not a problem; most mums can easily produce enough breastmilk to meet the needs of twins.
What you do need to be aware of is more related to initiating your breastmilk supply. Twins and other multiples often have a habit of arriving a little earlier than a single baby. Because of this, the maturation of the glands in your breasts that produce the breastmilk may be interrupted.
You may need help initiating your breastmilk supply if your little ones are having trouble doing so. If this is the case, the Symphony breast pump with lactation initiation software helps to activate the milk production capability of the breasts when your baby cannot do this.
Try Not to Be Concerned About Whether Your Body Will Produce Enough Milk
Your body was designed to be able to handle twins. Breastfeeding works on a “supply and demand” basis. As long as you continue to breastfeed your babies when they are hungry, your body will do the rest. For more information on what’s “average” check out our article on the surprisingly wide range of “normal” breastfeeding.
The second breastfeeding challenge that twins present is that, despite their similarities, you are dealing with two distinct personalities. Finding a way to get both babies happily latched can be tricky in the beginning. In addition, trying to nurse two infants, while juggling sleep and feeding schedules can be a bit of a logistical nightmare!
Despite the challenges, twins are not really “double trouble” when it comes to breastfeeding. Once you get the hang of it, breastfeeding twins can actually be an empowering and deeply fulfilling experience. Here are a few tips for moms who have been given the opportunity to breastfeed beautiful twins:
Be Confident – You Can Do This!
Whether you’re a first-time mum, or you have other children, it’s important to remember that, on a biological level, breastfeeding twins is really no different than breastfeeding a single newborn baby. Your body is ready for this! Remind yourself that, with patience, self-confidence, and love, any bumps that you encounter on your breastfeeding journey can be addressed.
Successfully breastfeeding twins involves the same routines and perseverance as breastfeeding a single child. So, pay attention to your diet, get plenty of sleep, and learn as much as you can about the breastfeeding process.
For example, mums who are breastfeeding twins might find it especially helpful to read about the basic principles of breastfeeding, especially the truth about “supply and demand” of breastmilk.
You will almost always have enough milk for your babies and it will always be the perfect quality for them. That is the magic of breastmilk. In fact, there are many crazy breastfeeding myths. So, sit back, get educated and just try to relax.
Connect With Other Moms of Multiples
One of the best sources of information for how to deal with twins is other mums. After all, these women are going through, or have just experienced, the same situation as you. Plus, maybe your twins will hit it off with their twins, and you can get them all married off at the same time. Is there two-for-one pricing on wedding venues, wedding bands, and dresses?
Multiple Birth Association has a great list of online resources and support groups for mothers of multiples. This organisation also offers a breastfeeding support network specifically geared toward the needs of mums of multiples.
Talking with other mums of twins is one of the best ways to have a positive experience breastfeeding. You can share your funny stories – and believe me there will be plenty of those! You can get advice on everyday challenges, such as breastfeeding twins in public. Most of all, you can get the emotional support that you need.
Get Organized – Try to Feed Both Babies at Once
You may not have to worry about running out of milk, but, the same cannot always be said of time. In fact, a lack of time is often the thing that mothers of twins complain about the most. Some mothers recommend trying to set a schedule so that both twins learn to feed and sleep at the same time. But, as some mums experience first-hand, this is often easier said than done.
According to a mother of twins we spoke to, different sleep patterns can often be the most difficult to manage. Remember that thing we said about different personalities? Yup, that’s right…
Talk to a lactation specialist for advice on breastfeeding positions that will make it comfortable to feed both babies at once.
Consider investing in a nursing pillow if you think that this will help you and your babies to get more comfortable. Advice from Sasha, a mum of twins, is to make sure the cushion for twins is really big. She says, “The singleton cushions will not work!” Some mothers of twins say that lying down with both babies at the same time makes the whole process easier. Now you have an excuse to take over your partner’s La-Z-Boy recliner.
Get Help Managing Your Emotions
Becoming a mother is always an emotional journey and it could be argued that this is doubly true when it comes to having twins. It’s not that twins cause stress directly. But, it’s possible that twins can magnify the normal challenges that all mothers face. For example, with two babies to feed, it may be harder for mums of twins to get out of the house and socialise. As a result, it’s even more important for mothers with 2 or 3 little ones to ask for help.
If possible, build a support team before your babies arrive. Find an inner circle of family, friends and neighbours who can help lighten the load of caring for newborn multiples. Consider hiring a housekeeper, if you can afford it. Or, prepare your partner for the inevitable increase in household duties. Talking about things up front can save your relationship a lot of stress when your beautiful babies finally arrive.
Every single child fills their parents’ hearts with joy. Being the mother of twins offers a special pride -being a member of an exclusive group of women who have been given the honour of raising two or more beautiful children at the same time. Of course there will be ups and downs, but the double hugs, double smiles and double love make up for every one of the challenges.
Are you breastfeeding twins or triplets? What advice would you offer to other moms in our community who may be at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below or join the conversation on our Medela Australia Facebook page.