Q&A: How can I prepare to breastfeed twins?
I'm expecting twins and looking forward to breastfeeding them both! What are the best books for me to read and some good ways for me to prepare?
Twins are special, and I am glad to hear you plan to breastfeed. I am also impressed that you are thinking ahead about how to set things up for success. Twins can be a challenge, and breastfeeding twins takes some special attention.
Most moms who nurse twins aim to feed them simultaneously. Sequential feeding takes too much time! Here are several things you can do to help make breastfeeding work:
- Learn about breastfeeding ahead of time. Consider taking a breastfeeding class or attending a support group while you are still pregnant.
- If possible spend skin-to-skin time with your babies immediately after birth.
- Start to nurse your newborns as soon as you can. Your nurse or lactation consultant can help you get off to a good start.
- If your babies come early and need to go to the newborn ICU (NICU), they may not be ready to nurse right away. Start pumping the very first day, mimicking how you’d feed them—every two hours or so. Even if you don’t get much milk at first, don’t give up! Pumping tells your body that the babies are here, and will need milk soon. When they are ready to start eating, get help from the NICU nurse or lactation consultant so you can get the babies to breast rather than continuing to pump. Pumping provides the milk they need, but pumping and bottle feeding takes twice the time, and you and the babies lose out on the experience of nursing.
- You will need rest after childbirth. Plan to have support at home so you can sleep when the babies are sleeping. Your main focus needs to be feeding the babies, and those around you will need to help with everything else. Set things up so you have another adult around 24/7 for the first several weeks at least. Consider hiring a postpartum doula.
My favorite breastfeeding book is Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and Nancy Mohrbacher, which has some information about nursing twins and terrific information about nursing in general. The La Leche League website also has information on nursing twins. They recommend several books about twins that are very positive towards breastfeeding. Good luck, and enjoy it all!