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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Breastfeeding Twins & Triplets
Breastfeeding Twins & Triplets
When preparing for breastfeeding twins or triplets, here are some helpful hints:

Properly prepare for breastfeeding by reading a general information book on breastfeeding. Our Mothering Multiples - Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More is an excellent book written by a former La Leche League Leader (National Breastfeeding Charity) or Twins & Multiples Birth Book by Dr Carol Cooper, also a mother of twins, is full of useful information you need for feeding.

Discuss your wishes with your partner before birth. It is important that you both have a commitment to breastfeeding and your partner be fully supportive.

Get together with other women who have successfully breastfed twins (and triplets). Compare notes. pick up hints. ideas and shortcuts. Your local community may offer a breastfeeding class geared towards multiples so check with your local Health Visitor or Mid-Wife. Your local twins & multiples club may offer also help. You may also connect with your Breastfeeding Group for support both before and after the babies' birth.

If possible. put your babies to the breast immediately after birth. If you are unable to do so. make sure you have made prior arrangements with your doctor and hospital nurse staff and that they are fully aware of your commitment to breastfeeding. Make your intentions to breastfeed clear and make arrangements to pump and collect milk until such time as you will have the babies with you and can feed them yourself. A double pump is a great investment and can save you a lot of time. Check out our Express Yourself Ultimate TwinKit that includes our best-selling Freestyle Double Electric Pump, perfect if you are expressing regularly.

Remember: Both you and the babies are learning about breastfeeding. Babies are not born knowing how to suckle. You will need to work together (perhaps with the assistance of a maternity nurse while in the hospital) to learn how to breastfeed successfully.
  • It's very common to have one baby who latches on quicker or more easily than the other. Put that baby to the breast first and then you will have ample time to work with settling the other baby who may need a little more coaxing and attention with latching. An excellent investment is a U-shaped shaped twin nursing cushion. Make sure the cushion has a firm base and is large enough to hold two babies together for tandem feeding. Some of the cushions or pillows available in shops are too squishy and small as they are made for nursing only one baby at a time.
  • Check out our brand new Harmony Duo Twin Feeding Cushion, specially designed by mothers of twins with consultation from midwives and postural experts. This easily accomodates twins for simultaneous feeding whilst also providing support and comfort for mum. As it's a unique double-sided feeding cushion, it can be used for either breasfeeding or bottle feeding twins or for nursing one baby at a time.
  • Your milk supply will be influenced by several factors: 1) how often you feed the babies (and/or pump); 2) how often you rest; and 3) the stress levels you are experiencing. You will produce an appropriate volume of milk to meet the babies' demand (the supply meets the demand) and it is equally important to be sure and get enough rest and to limit the stress levels in your day in order to assist you in producing milk. Chores can wait !
  • If you arrive home and have difficulties latching a baby or you or your babies are having difficulties. don't be shy. Call your local Health Visitor and find out where Breastfeeding Support Clinics are held or call/visit your local Twins & Multiples Club. Get the help you need to assist you and your babies.
  • It may be that you will experience some nipple soreness when breastfeeding one or two babies. If you stop nursing, the soreness will only return after the babies begin nursing again. Try nursing for shorter periods of time, but more often. If you are experiencing some pain. it is usually associated with poor positioning. Remove your baby, reposition him and try again to get them to latch on correctly. If you continue to experience nipple soreness, seek out some guidance from one of the groups mentioned above. We also have Medela Purelan Soothe & Protect Cream to relieve soreness.
  • Babies hit a growth spurt any where from 3 to 6 weeks of age (and not necessarily each at the same time) and then at regular intervals of about 6 weeks each after that. depending upon each individual baby. Don't worry if it appears that you are 'running out of milk' as it is more likely the babies are feeding more often due to a growth spurt. Soon the increased demand will meet up with the supply and regular feeding intervals will again develop. Their growth rate slows down at about 3 or 4 months.
  • Do not assign one baby exclusively to a breast because: 1) they may be uneven suckers and very shortly you will have a lopsided shape due to their uneven sucking patterns. Alternating the babies on each breast will even out any different sucking patterns; and very importantly 2) when a baby is assigned to only one breast. the baby's upper eye gets over worked. while the one below can become lazy and not react properly to stimuli.
  • If you find that one or both of your babies is having difficulties with one feeding position, try a different one. One mother of twins reported that her son would not breastfeed if he was 'under' his sister. The weight of his sister, while using the criss-cross / double cradle-hold position, was something that he would not tolerate. When she switched to the football hold (or double clutch as it is also referred to), which allowed each baby to be free of touching one another, he settled right down and breastfeeding went extremely well.
  • Your babies should eat initially every 2-1/2 to 3 hours and you will need to nurse at least 8-12 times a day for several weeks. Some babies need to nurse more often.

Triplets - For mothers wishing to breastfeed triplets. a suggestion to assist in building up your milk supply is to put two babies each to a breast for 10 minutes and the third baby on each breast for five minutes. at each feed. At the next feed. rotate the turn of the third baby so that each baby has a turn being on the breast within the first 10 minutes. Some Mums have reported a reasonable amount of success in building up their milk supply by using this rotating system. It is agreed that it is difficult to exclusively breastfeed three babies and some triplet families happily partially breast-fed their babies for different durations of time.

Whether you're feeding twins or triplets, you can be assured that your babies are feeding well if:

- they each have 6-8 soaking wet cloth nappies or 5-6 wet disposable nappies each in 24 hrs during the first six weeks;

- each baby is having 2 to 5 bowel movements in 24 hours during the first six weeks;

- they are feeding at least 8 to 12 times a day for a duration of 10 to 40 minutes. Duration and number of feeding times per day will vary with each baby.

Breastfeeding Positions
See attached file for diagrams on following positions :
  • Cradle Hold (also known as the 'V' or Criss-cross hold)
  • Football Hold (also known as the 'Clutch' hold, most popular for tandem feeding twins)
  • Parallel Hold
  • Combination Holds (usually clutch and cradle - used for single or tandem feeding)
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