Nursing Multiples- An Incredible Journey!

Hi there Mommy News & Views readers! My name is Dare. I am a twenty-something mother of three boys, 3 yr. old twins and a 16 month old. In my “free” time I’m a birth doula and the author of GiveThemRoots, an environmental family blog. I was blessed to nurse my twins for 16 months and I hope what I share with you today helps on your journey. Congratulations and good luck!
It seems like it was just yesterday when my husband and I found out we were having twins. The conversation with my OB-GYN went a little something like this… 

OB: Look at that… twins!
Mommy-to-be: Are you joking? (Daddy-to-be laughing hysterically in the background)
OB: This is my job, why would I joke about twins?
Mommy-to-be: Dr. B. if you’re joking this really isn’t funny.
OB: Look. (showing two babies on the ultrasound)
Mommy-to-be: OMG- I think I’m going to be sick. (Daddy-to-be silent)

I was nauseated the whole way home and not from morning sickness. This was our first baby, the thought of it being our first babIES, never crossed my mind. The thought that did cross my mind a million times was, “What are we going to do about… EVERYTHING?”
Having multiples can be overwhelming. Breastfeeding multiples sounds overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. I gave birth to my boys completely unprepared to nurse twins. I had no idea how to breastfeed, hadn’t taken a birth course, and I had never seen anyone breastfeeding that wasn’t 100% covered up. I honestly had no idea what I was doing other than what a couple of pregnancy books said! Luckily, I had an amazing lactation consultant and post-partum nurses that went above and beyond the call of duty.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself. There are so many breastfeeding resources available now; why not use them all? I flew by the seat of my pants but you don’t have to.
Read everything you can get your hands on and keep these four books close by:

  • The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins
  • Mama Knows Breast: A Beginners Guide to Breastfeeding by Andi Silverman
  • So That’s What They’re For: Definitive Breastfeeding Guide by Janet Tamaro
  • Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins! Plus more tips for simplifying life with twins. by April Rudat
    Sign up for a breastfeeding class. Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes for $10-30 dollars. You can’t even go to a movie with your partner for twenty bucks and the information you’ll devour at this class will be far more nutritious than a bucket of greasy movie popcorn! Remember to ask the instructor for tips about nursing multiples!
      Football Hold with TwinsStudy positions and holds for nursing twins in books and online. Finding the right position for you and your babies is life changing for a mother nursing multiples. As the babies get older and bigger the position will probably change. We invented positions that I guarantee you won’t find in a nursing book any where but it worked, you will too.
    Check out great informational websites and groups like:
    Well, you’ve been schooled in all things booby. Now what?
    Step 2: Invest in a few vital things. A nursing pillow, supportive bras, absorbent breast pads, and an awesome breast pump.

  • Buy a nursing pillow but not a Boppy Pillow! I couldn’t have lived without my Brestfriend Nursing Pillow. I was able to feed both boys at the same time using this pillow. My Brestfriend offers a flat, firmer and larger supported area than Boppy and other similar styled pillows which are soft and rounded.This allows the pillow to do most of the supporting. There are also several pillows that can be ordered online and are designed for twins. The perfect pillow makes all the difference when you are trying to nurse two babies simultaneously.  Don’t forget to pack the pillow with your hospital bag. The lactation staff can help you learn to use it most effectively!

  • Good bras are hard to come by when you’re not breastfeeding. Add clips, buckles, and special supporting features to your search and you are on a real mission. Try to find a nursing boutique, they will sell pumps, a huge selection of bras, pillows, etc.. This is the best place to go when you are getting fitted for your bras. It is their speciality after all!

    My Breast Are Leaking Everywhere by: Your’s Truly
    (to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb)

    My breast are leaking everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
    My breast are leaking everywhere and people will surely know!

    Ok, that was cheesy. The point is, when you are nursing two babies your body is using the pre-milk, called colostrum, faster. This triggers hormones that tell the brain “Hey wait! Start making milk on the double! This kid’s hungry.” Unless you want to show off your latest gift from the milk Gods you might want to start wearing breast pads when you leave the house, especially BEFORE your milk comes in. The day it comes will be a surprise! Most women’s bodies will figure out the right equation of milk for your babies and you will stop leaking. Until then, put a breast pad in your bra for the leaking, sit back and let nature run it’s course. You can purchase either cloth washable/reusable pads or disposable pads. I’ve found both work equally but the reusable pads save a few trees and your wallet!  
     Ameda Purely Yours

  • A breast pump is very helpful for nursing mothers. Breast pumps can be used if you need to give a bottle, if you want to store milk, if you become engorged, and for many other reasons.  I have had good luck with the Medela Pump In Style electric double breast pumps and recently with our third son an Avent Isis manual pump. The most important thing you can do when pumping breast milk is READ THE DIRECTIONS! With the Avent Isis manual pump, I had the hardest time at first. I couldn’t get a good latch and it was taking centuries to get any milk out. I flipped open the manual while pumping one night and read something along the lines of  “Rapidly squeeze the handle a few times until you build up good suction, then slowly press and release the handle in counts of 5. 1-2-3-4-5 per pump and release”. Guess what happened? I hand pumped an entire 5 oz. Avent bottle in less than 10 minutes following the directions- figures! If you can’t afford to buy a breast pump look into hospital rentals, these are excellent quality pumps that are sterilized and ready for use for small fees and some insurance providers will cover these costs.
    Step 3: Remember you’re not alone!
    Learning to breastfeed can be the most natural thing you ever do -OR- it can be one of the most challenging. Every new mom experiences a bump in the road, whether it’s a clogged duct, engorgement, a low supply, an over supply, etc.  just remember all of these things are normal and can be easily fixed! Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.

    Ask your mom, a friend, a doctor, or a specialist…just ask!

    Many pediatrician’s have lactation consultants on staff. It usually costs your normal co-pay and any problems you are experiencing can often be solved during one visit! If you don’t have access to a lactation consultant find your local La Leche League group. The chapter “moms” have the experience and training to give advice and tips to nursing mothers. Reach out to local support groups and online forums. There are many Mothers of Multiples groups, and several online chat forums with women that are in the same place you are. Last but not least, ask your partner for help! My husband was my rock while I was getting the hang of things. At night he would get the boys from their cribs, change diapers and bring them to me while I was getting myself ready to nurse. He would help position the babies and sit by for moral support or to get anything I needed (like water, the thirst while nursing twins is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.). I hear Moms say “He has to go to work the next day, I don’t want to wake him”, well guess what? So do YOU and more than likely your job, especially in the beginning, will be far more exhausting than any typical 9-5 job. Share the work load, things will get done faster and you will both get more sleep.

    A few of my tips:

  • Nursing during the first three months are the hardest. I won’t lie to you, it’s tough, a little awkward and extremely exhausting at first. Each time you nurse will be easier than the last time. Just remember that.
  • Tandem nurse! Nursing both babies at the same time obviously takes half the time. It’s really a lot easier than single nursing and trying to keep up with who nursed last. You can bond with both babies at the same time and it gives them the opportunity to bond as well.
  • The hospital provides charts to write down diapers, feedings, etc.. This chart proved to be such a helpful thing in the hospital that we made copies and used it at home for weeks. We wrote down every feeding so I knew which side each child previously nursed on. It also helped me remember when I last nursed and how many wet/poopy diapers each baby had. [Mommy News Tip: Try the My Baby’s Day Activity Software]
  • Be Positive. For some reason women love to share horror stories about twins, even when they haven’t had twins (“my neighbor” or “my sister”). Remember, that’s their story, not yours. Make your own love story with your baby!
  • Breast milk is the ultimate healer. If your nipples are sore or cracked in the beginning instead of using nipple creams and ointments which are messy, cause stains and even infections, squirt a little breast milk out and gently rub it on your nipples and let it dry. You will be amazed at what a little breast milk can do! 
  • Drink water, lots and lots of water!
    Most importantly be patient, be calm and enjoy the experience; it’s a once in a lifetime chance. You CAN do this!
    Have you nursed twins or more? Share your positive and empowering story with other MOMs (Mother Of Multiples).  

    4 comments to Nursing Multiples- An Incredible Journey!

    • Excellent, excellent post! When people hear “multiples” I feel like they automatically think you have to use formula. I have 3 boys. My oldest is 4 and my twins will be 2 in May. I just stopped breastfeeding them about 2 months ago. It is so nice to meet other moms who nurse twins. People thought I was nuts for wanting to breastfeed them, but it was such an amazing experience. And for me, much easier then trying to prep two bottles and then hold both of them while feeding said bottles.
      My nursing pillow was a lifesaver and I used it for all 20 months that I breastfed. I want to say I got it from Double Blessings.

      Marianna’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Joshua

    • Gianna

      Thanks for sharing your story :)
      The first three months were the hardest for me too. I made the mistake of feeding them one at a time because that was what I was used to with my three other kids. I kept trying all the positions I saw online and what I was taught at the hospital and nothing worked for me. It wasn’t until I tried something on my own that it finally stuck and now I always nurse them both at the same time. I was never able to master the football hold. I lay two pillows next to me and then use a regular boppy. I lay them both facing my chest straight out. I love the way they giggle and mess with me when they nurse. It’s so awesome when they play with each other and even hold hands :)
      Everyone but my immediate family thinks i’m nuts too. Thank God my husband is so helpful and supportive. That really helps too! My twins are now 10 months old and i’ve been breastfeeding them exclusively. No formula, no bottles etc! I swear I want to throw a party in addition to a birthday party when I reach that 1 year mark LOL. I plan on nursing them until they self wean.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Gianna! What a wonderful story you have and you are very lucky indeed to have a supportive family. Thanks for visiting! Judy

    • Ariel

      I am still nursing my 14-month old twins, and have a few things to add:

      1) if you are alone with your twins, nursing really is easier than bottlefeeding both, especially in the early days when you can nurse both at the same time.

      2) make sure you eat A LOT (and drink a lot!). Don’t try to lose your baby weight right away-your babies are pulling tons of nutrition from you.

      3)take care of yourself if you get sick, and be careful about dehydration. I got the stomach flu when my twins were 5 months old and ended up in the ER after just a few hours of not being able to keep liquids down because I got dehydrated so fast.

      4)get a good nursing bra- you’ll be a lot more comfortable!

      Enjoy your babies, because they grow up so fast!

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