Congratulations on the birth or anticipated birth of your babies.
Yes! You can breastfeed them.
You and your partner may have mixed feelings about having more than one baby. Pregnancy is a time of excitement and joy, but there will also be moments of worry.
You will wonder how the birth will go, if your babies will be healthy and how you will manage.
If you can prepare yourself and your family as much as possible, it may help you deal with the extra pressures that more than one baby can bring. As well as the busy times ahead, you can look forward to a lot of smiles, hugs and kisses from your babies.
You may be thinking that feeding one baby is challenging enough and breastfeeding more than one may seem too daunting. While it can be exhausting at first, with support, many mothers succeed.
Breastfeeding is convenient and especially if you have more than one baby, it saves you a lot of money!
Can I produce enough breastmilk?
Yes. People sometimes doubt it's possible to make enough milk for two or more babies. Knowing how breastfeeding works will help you understand how this is possible. It can give you the confidence to continue breastfeeding even when your babies are feeding frequently and you, or others, begin to question your milk supply.
The basic rule about milk production is that it is made on a supply = needs basis. This is a short way of saying the more often a baby feeds at your breast and removes milk (need), the more milk is made (supply). Feeding to your babies' needs will help you keep up a plentiful supply so you can breastfeed for as long as it suits you and your family.
The extra sucking of two or more babies means that your body will produce the extra milk they need. Knowing this can help you cope, especially when your babies seem extra fussy or hungry. Understanding that supply equals need can reassure you when your babies ask for extra feeds. By feeding your babies when they need, your breasts will continue to make enough milk for them.
How do I feed more than one baby?
Comfortable positioning and attachment to the breast helps you avoid nipple soreness. It also helps your babies to feed efficiently and take enough milk at a feed.
At first, feeding your babies one at a time will give you a chance to focus on one baby and one breast as you learn.
If you have someone at home with you, they can change and bring one baby at a time to you, then swap for the next one, while they settle the first one.
Offer the breast to whoever wakes first, and then wake the other(s) for feeding as needed.
Feeding them together saves time, but you will need help at the start. Some mums actually find it quicker and easier to feed the babies separately. Do what works best for you.
Twin feeding holds
‘Twin’, ‘football’ or underarm hold
This is the most common hold and it's the best one to use when you don't have help. It is good with small babies and is useful after a caesarean birth because it does not put pressure on your tummy.
This is a more discreet position but may be hard when your babies are young. It is a good hold when you are away from home. With older babies you can feed this way without pillows and it can be done using an armrest in a small armchair.
Front ‘v’ hold
This is a good method for feeding at night. It may also be helpful if you are in pain when you are sitting. It can be difficult with tiny babies unless you have help, as you have little control over their heads.
Mothers of single babies often find lying down with their baby makes life much easier as they get more rest. With practice this can also be done with two babies at a time.
These holds and more on managing feeds with triplets or more can be found in the ABA booklet Breastfeeding: twins, triplets and more.
Will I need to express?
You may need to express if any of your babies are small and/or premature and unable to effectively feed at the breast. Even small amounts of colostrum are valuable, giving your babies nourishment and protection from infection.
It is a big help if you can surround yourself with people who are skilled and knowledgeable about how breastfeeding works. Their confidence and support will reassure you that you can get your milk supply going and keep it going until your babies can feed from your breasts.