Tips And Resources That Can Help You To Successfully Breastfeed Your Twins.

Breastfeeding one baby can be a challenge. Breastfeeding twins or higher order multiples may seem downright overwhelming. Facing the challenge is worth it though, because breast milk is the best possible food for your twins. Following are some tips and resources that can help you to successfully breastfeed your twins.

By Jennifer Chait

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Before your babies arrive

Discuss your breastfeeding choice with your partner and prenatal care provider. Open discussion mean you'll get the support you need to breastfeed successfully.

Consider taking a breastfeeding class or attending local La Leche League (LLL) meetings. LLL offers expert breastfeeding support and advice from trained professionals and other mamas alike. Additionally, LLL welcomes pregnant mamas at their meetings; by attending before your babies arrive you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to understanding breastfeeding perks and challenges.

Read a great breastfeeding book such as So That's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide 3rd edition by Janet Tamaro or Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada.

After your babies arrive

Twins are often born early, so be sure to look into resources designed for breastfeeding premature babies. If your twins are born early, your milk may take a little longer to come in and sometimes formula supplements may be needed. Another great tool for breastfeeding mamas of premature twins is a breast pump; a breast pump can help your milk to come in quicker. The lactation consultant at your hospital or birthing center can help you learn how to use a breast pump efficiently.

Twins who are born healthy and at term often breastfeed well right from the start, but even premature twins can be breastfed. You can increase your odds of receiving proper breastfeeding support by choosing a breastfeeding friendly hospital or birthing center.

Good breastfeeding technique is the same whether you're feeding one baby or two, the only difference is you have two choices of when to feed – you can breastfeed each baby separately or breastfeed both babies at the same time.

Often mamas of twins choose to breastfeed both babies at the same time. This makes things easy for a couple of reasons. One, you won't have to worry about one hungry and fussy baby as the other one eats. Two, feeding both babies at once is a time saver for you. Babies eat often, and even if you feed both babies at the same time, you'll be spending a lot of time feeding. If you feed them separately, you'll literally feel like you never get a break.

Especially for twins

Two holds that work well for breastfeeding twins include the football hold and the cradle hold position. Some twins won't eat if they're in the cradle hold because one baby ends up on top of the other (if you're feeding at the same time). Some babies don't mind. You can try different breastfeeding positions until you find one that works for both you and your twins.

A nursing pillow is a must for all nursing mamas, but for mamas of twins it's almost a necessity. It's tough to hold two hungry babies and a great nursing pillow will help you to position both babies correctly. My Brest Friend and the Boppy Pillow are good breastfeeding pillows for feeding one baby or two small babies, but as your twins grow a larger pillow will be needed. The EZ-2-Nurse Twins Feeding Pillow is wide and perfect for feeding two larger babies at once.

One of your babies may learn to latch on and feed quicker then your other baby. This is common, and nothing to worry about. Twins like all babies are unique and develop differently.

Even though you have twins you should still alternate breasts when feeding. For example, feed baby 1 on the right side while you feed baby 2 on the left, then switch your babies to the other breast at the next feeding. Babies have distinct sucking patterns and not alternating sides can result in lopsided breasts due to this sucking pattern. Additionally, breastfeeding your baby on one side only allows stimuli to process in one of your baby's eyes, not both. Remember, breastfeeding is a time when babies learn to focus on your face.

You may be concerned about running out of milk, or not having enough in the first place. However, breast milk is based on supply and demand. The more your twins eat the more milk you'll produce. Usually around 3 to 6 weeks babies start going through growth spurts (not always together), and these growth spurts will continue as they grow. During these growth spurts, your milk can take a couple of days to catch up to your twins' appetites, but rest assured it will. There are mamas who successfully breastfeed triplets so don't worry; your twins will get the nourishment they need, even though there is more than one mouth to feed.

As always you can and should discuss breastfeeding questions, concerns, and options with your health care provider, La Leche League, or a certified lactation consultant.

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