mom nursing twins while toddler hugs her from behind
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It is normal to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of nursing two babies at the same time, you are not alone.

While nursing twins certainly has its challenges, it can be done, especially if you have good resources and support.

You can nurse twins.

Many people are under the impression that nursing twins is impossible, or simply way too much work. Sure, nursing multiples may have a steeper learning curve than singletons, but it most certainly can be done. Many nursing parents do it. In fact, between 40 and 90 percent of twin parents initiate nursing after birth.

Breastfeeding, like any aspect of parenting, is something you learn and get better at the more you practice it. You will get a lot of practice while nursing twins!

It is important to overcome the initial challenges that nursing may present, find a routine that works for you and your babies, and ensure that you have support when you need it.

The benefits of nursing twins are the same as those of singletons. Nutrition for babies is balanced and nursing provides protection from disease.

Babies who receive human milk have reduced risks of:

  • Ear infections.
  • The stomach viruses.
  • asthma
  • There is a disease called diabetes.
  • SIDS

Nursing provides protections specific to twins as well. Twins are more likely to be born prematurely and at lower birth weights than singleton babies, which can put them at a higher risk of medical complications.

For example, preemies are more prone to sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis. Consuming human milk is known to decrease the risk of these infections.

It’s understandable if you have concerns about nursing twins. If you’ve never breastfed or chestfed before, you are probably unsure about many of the same things that parents of singletons are: the basic mechanics of nursing, how to know if you are making enough milk, and what to do if you run into problems. But you have to worry about these things times two!

As a parent of twins, you probably have some other concerns, because nursing twins has its own challenges and unknowns.

Will I have enough milk?

The most common question about nursing twins is whether you can produce enough milk to feed two babies. The answer is that if you nurse your babies frequently and on demand, your body will make enough milk for your babies.

The way that nursing works is by supply and demand. So, the more milk your babies take, the more milk you will make. The human body is designed to make enough milk for its offspring, no matter how many babies there are.

Should I feed them at the same time?

Every parent who nurses twins will find a feeding routine that works for them. At first, as you and your babies are learning the ins and outs of latching and positioning, it might be easier to nurse your babies one at a time.

Most parents find that nursing their babies at the same time saves a lot of time.

Because each of your breasts may have different milk storage capacities, and because each of your babies may have different sucking patterns and sucking strengths, experts often recommend that you alternate breasts between your two babies, whatever feeding routine you adopt.

sore nipples, latched and positioning issues, concerns about weight gain, and milk supply are some of the challenges that nursing parents face.

Because twins are more often premature or have low birth weight, these concerns may be amplified.

Babies who are premature have weaker sucks and may have trouble getting milk out of the breast. It can be difficult to fit in enough nursing sessions if your babies were separated from you.

“If your babies weren’t mature enough to nurse directly, you may have had to pump your milk and learn how to latch in the future.”

It is difficult to juggle the feeding needs and care of two infants at once. That is typical and it is why you need the support of family, friends and other loved ones.

Questions to ask your healthcare professional or lactation consultant

It is common to run into nursing challenges when you are nursing twins. Some questions you might consider asking are:

  • How do I know that my babies are gaining weight?
  • Is it possible to get periodic weight checks to make sure my babies are getting enough milk?
  • What are some signs that my babies are growing well and meeting milestones?

There is no one right way to nurse twins. If your babies are gaining weight and meeting their milestones, and your breasts and nipples are not too big, then you are doing well.

It doesn’t matter if you nurse using one particular position over another, or a specific kind of feeding pillow. It’s all about what works for you.

There are some tips that you might find useful.

  • Many parents find a twin nursing pillow helpful. This is a U-shaped foam pillow that hugs your waist and offers a soft spot for your babies to lie while nursing.
  • Parents often find it easiest to tandem feed their twins, which means nursing them at the same time.
  • “The most popular twin nursing position is where you put both of your babies in a football hold, with the baby’s torso draped around the side of your body.”
  • One of the positions to nurse twins is putting one baby in a football hold and the other in a cradle hold.
  • The chairs with the most space for twins are the best. Many parents find it easier to nurse their children on the couch, bed, or floor.
  • Some parents find it easier to combine nursing and bottle feeding so others can help feed their babies.

It is possible to be a nursing twin, but it requires more support and can be more difficult.

There are some tried and true tips for making nursing twins work for you.

1. Nurse your babies as early after birth as possible

Nursing within the first 30 to 60 minutes after birth has been found to increase the rates of successful nursing.

“Don’t worry if your babies are medically vulnerable and separated from you after birth. When your babies are ready, start hand expressing and pumping as soon as possible.”

2. Set up a nursing station

Breastfeeding parents often need burp cloths, feeding pillows, diapers, wipes, and snacks and drinks (nursing makes you hungry and thirsty!). It can be helpful to have a nursing station set up at home with all your supplies handy.

3. Always have a secure spot for your babies

If you feed both of your babies at the same time, there will be times when you need to put down one of the babies, for example if you need to burp the other baby or if one baby is done nursing before the other.

It can help if you have a bassinet or baby chair nearby. Some nursing parents prefer sitting on the floor while feeding and having a soft blanket nearby to set down their baby.

4. Eat well and stay hydrated

Nursing requires an additional 330 to 400 calories. If you’re nursing twins, you need to double that.

“You are very thirsty because of nursing. If you don’t get enough food or drinks here and there, it will not affect your milk supply, but it will affect your energy to take care of your babies and feel well.”

5. Accept help

It can be hard to accept help, but if you have twins, you will need all the help you can get. There is nothing wrong with having someone give your baby a bottle if you want to help with feeding.

But the best way to support a parent who is nursing twins is to lighten the load around the house. Clean, declutter, prepare food, care for older siblings, diaper and burp the babies — do what you can to clear the nursing parent’s schedule so they can focus on the task of feeding.

6. Learn to nurse lying down

Learning to nurse your babies while lying down can help immensely. If needed, a nursing counselor or a lactation consultant can help.

It is important to transfer your baby back to their bassinet, crib, or other safe sleeping space after feeding them in bed, so having a helpers for night feeds can be helpful.

7. Consult evidence-based sources

There are a lot of nursing resources on the internet. You should only consult sources that cite evidence-based nursing information. This includes:

8. Keep nursing support on speed dial

“You don’t have to do this alone, and you aren’t supposed to know how to solve all of your nursing challenges. Keep the phone numbers handy for recommended lactation consultants and nursing counselors.”

9. Join a nursing twins support group

Hearing real-life experiences of parents who have nursed twins is something that is very special. A local health center, nursing organization, or online forum is a great place to join a nursing twins support group.

10. Remember that it’s not ‘all or nothing’

“Everyone has their own definition of nursing success. Being a successful nursing parent doesn’t mean every feeding has to happen at the breast”

Pumping your milk and having someone help bottle-feed your babies might be what makes nursing twins work for you. Supplementing with formula might work best for you too.

Every drop counts, and you get to define your success for yourself.

If you feel like nursing twins is impossible, you can take solace in knowing that you are not the only one who has felt this way.

If you feel like nursing your babies is important to you, you can make it work. It is important to educate yourself on breastfeeding basics and to make sure you have experts to call if you need help.

It is important that you have a strong support network in place so you can focus on getting into a good nursing routine with your babies.

“Don’t let others define success for nursing twins. You need to figure out what works best for you and your family. You can do this!”