As I sit here writing about the early days of nursing my two, it does seem rather blurred. I won’t lie – the first few weeks flew by for me in a haze of long days and nights but here I am, 7 months into this journey, so I feel like something went right.
With that said, here are the pieces of advice I have for surviving the early days with twins. Some of these things will be the same as what you may have read in articles about breastfeeding singletons. A lot of the same principles apply but I feel they are even more important to consider with two to nurse.
- Start Soon. Get started as soon as you can but don’t stress about it if you don’t immediately nurse. I had a c-section with the girls and didn’t nurse them first thing like I did with the first two and it was just fine.
- Lose the Modesty. (If you haven’t already from the pregnancy and delivery) If you are trying to tandem nurse, it’s hard to hide those things….especially until you figure out a position that works for you and your babies. (It will get less awkward) Again, don’t sweat it. Or, if it does make you uncomfortable for people to see a little skin, just ask them nicely for some privacy. You get to choose and they have to respect your wishes.
- Give tandem a try. Or not. I went into it knowing that if I couldn’t feed them at the same time, they were just going to be bottle fed. I didn’t want to either be nursing one at a time (which could take an hour or more for two) or nursing one, pumping, and then giving the other a bottle (which I saw as a pain). I tried tandem nursing with the football hold with my twin nursing pillow and it was the only position that worked consistently for me. I’m still tandem nursing with the football hold (7 months in) and I’m pretty sure feeding them at the same time has saved me hundreds of hours. The great thing is, you get to decide what works for you and your babies. There’s no right or wrong.
- Pump it Up. I knew I was going back to work when they were 3 months old and that I didn’t pump as much with the first two as they wanted from a bottle while I was at work. In preparation for that I decided to start pumping after every feeding, not only to stockpile milk, but also to increase my milk supply. I started in the hospital after the girls lost some weight and needed to get supplemental bottles to help gain. I pumped plenty to avoid having to use formula to supplement in the beginning, as well as when I started back to work.
- Eat and drink plenty. You may be ready to lose that extra weight, but your milk supply is dependent upon you getting enough. Try to eat a healthy snack and drink some water at each feeding. If you have trouble getting enough calories, drink a protein drink or shake.
- Get advice. While you’re at the hospital, take advantage of the lactation consultants and nursing staff. My nurses were just as helpful as the lactation consultants were and were only a call button away. Don’t hesitate to call the lactation consultant after you go home either if you need help. A lot of hospitals have breastfeeding resource centers that you can schedule a time to come in for a consult with the babies.
- Bring your nursing pillow with you to the hospital, if you’re using one, so that you can practice using it with the lactation consultant and nurses’ help.
- Schedule feedings or at least feed them at the same time. Nursing on demand never worked well for me or my babies- even with my singletons. It left me grouchy, tired, and attached to a baby about 75% of the time. It was not a good thing for my emotional state, which I believe impacts your milk supply and your baby’s demeanor too. We started a 3 hour schedule as soon as possible with the girls and it worked well. When it was time to eat we fed them both, even if we had to wake one.
- Don’t suffer. Nipple cream and nipple shields saved me. I wouldn’t still be nursing without them. You may read that sore nipples are due to bad latch. I’m not an expert but I think that anytime you have sensitive skin being sucked on for hours a day, it seems natural that you might be sore until your skin gets used to it. Enter nipple cream. If that doesn’t work, consider nipple shields. Lactation experts will tell you not to use them but if it allows you to keep nursing, it might be worth trying. I personally have used them with all 4 kids and it hasn’t been an issue.
- Technology is your friend. We purchased the app, Sprout Baby, for keeping up with daily activities. There are a lot of other apps to do a lot of the same things- record feedings, diapers, etc. We chose this one because it lets you put more than one child in there and put the app on more than one device, so it was great for twins. My husband, mom, and I all used it to keep up with things together since it synced between our phones. In those first sleepless weeks, when you struggle to remember when they ate last and how many wet diapers each baby has had in a day, having an app for it all is a lifesaver.
- Dress accordingly. So many companies market nursing clothes now and, while they are convenient, you don’t need a lot. For the hospital, I purchased 2 nursing sleep bras, 2 nursing gowns and a pair of pjs, all of which were super comfy and black. For going home, I brought tights, a black maternity shirt, and comfy cardigan. Easy access to nurse and comfort were my main concerns until my c-section incision healed.
- Accept help. This was easy for me because I already had done this before, but with twins (and older kids in my case) it was important that I accept whatever help I could get. Want to hold a baby? Sure. Want to bring dinner? Yes, please. Can we take the older kids to the park? That would be great. Now is not the time to be prideful. Accept any willing hands and remember that there are many families that might not be as fortunate to have the support.
Last piece of advice: If at any point, breastfeeding becomes too hard or is impacting your wellbeing or your babies’ there is nothing wrong with making a change. Doing what’s best for your wellbeing is doing what is best for your family.
My nursing experience with twins has been a good one, even if stressful and tiring at times. I realize that not everyone has as much success with this because I had a lot of good support but hopefully some of this is helpful if you’re soon having twins or if you’re a mom to twins fighting the good fight right now.
Check out Nursing Twins – Part 1: Preparation for tips to get ready for this adventure.
P.S. I’m not getting paid to talk about any products discussed above.