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Resources Centre / Twins Tips Introduction / Twins Tips / Breastfeeding Twins at Hospital and Home
Breastfeeding Twins at Hospital and Home

Can a mother really breastfeed twins or triplets? Of course and the benefits of breastfeeding are multiplied! Your body will naturally produce enough milk to meet the needs of two (or more) babies. Plan on getting help in the first few weeks so that you can concentrate on caring for your babies. Make sure to eat a healthy diet, consume enough fluids, and get enough rest, and your body will take care of everything else!

Planning for your hospital stay

Unless you have birth complications, you will not be in the hospital for very long. Typically, if your babies are born full term without any health issues then your stay may only be for 3-5 days. This does not give you much time to adjust to nursing. Rooming in with your babies allows them to nurse when they want to, this will get breastfeeding off to a good start. Bring a comfortable breastfeeding support cushion and other items you need from home. Find out what breastfeeding assistance the hospital offers and ask to see the breastfeeding counsellor, even when breastfeeding is going well.

The first feedings are very important, the sooner you nurse, the better for you and your babies. Most newborns are alert and calm right after birth but this will depend on your delivery and if they were premature. Be sure to tell your doctor or midwife ahead of time that you want to breastfeed. Begin feedings within an hour of delivery if possible and continue to feed your babies on demand throughout the first 24 hours. Some babies will begin nursing like a pro and others may need a little help. Early, frequent, unrestricted breastfeeding offers health benefits to both mother and each baby while preventing common breastfeeding difficulties. Each baby may feed anywhere from 8 to 12 times, some will nurse more, others may need to be gently woken up. If you are unable to nurse soon after the birth, dont panic, you will have time to get breastfeeding going and help should be available.

Helpful hints:
- Nurse as soon as possible after birth: babies are more likely to be alert and ready to feed the first few hours after birth. Breastfeed every 1 1/2 to 3 hours- frequent feedings establishes milk supply
- Do not offer a dummy for the first 3 to 4 weeks or until breastfeeding is well established
- Rooming-in or keeping the infants in the room as much as possible. These arrangements facilitate frequent nursing, establishing a good milk supply.
- No supplemental bottles of formula or water, unless medically necessary- supplemental feedings in the early days interfere with building milk supply, if there are no medical complications, these supplements are not necessary. Giving bottle and breast can also cause nipple confusion.

- Ask to see a Breastfeeding Counsellor or nurse knowledgeable of breastfeeding ideally with some experience of twins and multiples - even when nursing is going well

Caesarean Section

Most caesareans are planned when you are having a multiple birth. A c-section is major abdominal surgery and mum will need anaesthesia and pain medication. You may be experiencing fatigue and stress but the good news is that you can breastfeed! Time spent holding and feeding your babies can be comforting. Breastfeeding may be more comfortable in a football hold or by placing a cushion in a way to protect the incision. Mothers who have a c-section will need extra help in the early weeks and tandem feeding twins takes some practice. Start with establishing breastfeeding with each baby separately and move onto tandem feeding when you feel comfortable in doing so. The Harmony Duo Twin Feeding Cushion is ideal for feeding one or both babies at the same time and is suitable for hospital and home use.

If one or both of your babies need special care- you can stimulate your breasts to produce milk if one or both of your babies cannot nurse, the hospital should give you pictures of your babies, go to see your babies, touch and hold them, this will help to produce milk. Express milk in the first hours after birth, follow a schedule similar to a newborns nursing. Ask the hospital breastfeeding consultant or nursing staff to show you how to use an electric breast pump.

If one or both of your babies is born with special needs- babies needs the benefits of breastfeeding even more than other babies, your milk is easier digested and healthier and the special bond that comes with breastfeeding will help you feel calmer and more in touch with your babies.

First Days Home
The first days home with two new babies are exciting and challenging with a blur of, holding, feeding, winding and changing. This is a time of adjustment for you and your family. You may be tired and emotional. Mothering your newborns takes up most of your time and energy. This is a time to let the other things go, use your energy to care for your babies and get rest. Ask for help from family and friends. Lower your expectations while you are adjusting to your new job as full-time mother.

Choosing how to feed twins:
- feed both babies at the same time (tandem feeding)
- feed each baby whenever he/she is hungry
- feed one baby, and then the other

Breastfeeding positions for twins:
- Position a baby on either side with football hold with your hands/cushion supporting their heads
- Position one baby at your side in a football hold, and one across a cushion on your lap - Position both babies criss-crossed in your lap, one lying partially on top of the other

Helpful hints:
- Use the Harmony Duo Twin Feeding Cushion rather than ordinary pillows
- Breastfeeding both babies at the same time increases your milk and saves time
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Let-down may be stronger when feeding both at the same time
- Alternating breasts between twins will help balance the milk production. You can alternate breasts during a feeding, for each feeding or from day to day
- Each baby should feed 8 to 12 times per day, so you may want to keep a chart. The Double Duty Diary has been designed especially for twins and will record feedings for each baby separately.

Benefits of breastfeeding twins/multiples:
- Breastfeeding contracts the uterus, helping you recover more quickly after giving birth
- Breastfeeding will give you time to spend holding and caring for each baby
- The hormones released during breastfeeding will help you relax
- Breast milk is the perfect food, so your babies will be healthier
- Your milk is always available, so your babies wont have to wait
- You'll save the cost of formula times two, three or more by breastfeeding

If the babies father feels left out
Make special time for your babies father. Dads can help burp, change, bathe and comfort their babies and are the extra pair of hands you need in the early daze! Fathers can also help mums by offering breastfeeding support and help to make mum more comfortable. Skin-to-skin contact is important and possible with bathing, nappy changing and cuddling. Fathers can help mothers by being sensitive and supportive and by offering positive encouragement.

If you feel blue
Most new mothers go through emotional highs and lows which can last for up to a year or more after giving birth. Mothers of twins or more have a higher incidence of post-natal depression. These feelings come from fatigue, stress and the hormonal changes that occur in your body after giving birth. Make sure you get plenty of rest, exercise and eat a healthy diet. If mood changes or depression are interfering with your ability to eat, sleep, function normally or if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your babies, talk to your health care provider, as these may be signs of treatable postpartum depression.

If it is time to wean
Any amount of breastfeeding is good for you and your baby. How long you breastfeed depends on your own feelings and circumstances. Mothers choose to breastfeed for several weeks, many months or several years. The department of Health recommends that babies have breast milk for at least the first 6 months of life. Doctors also recommend that babies do not have cows milk for the first 12 months of life. For more information on weaning twins, please see our Twins Tips on Weaning

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.Twins & Multiples Birth Book Essential Guide
Twins ! Pregnancy. Birth and the First Year of Life
Breastfeeding Twins Double Duty TwinKit™

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