Essential things if you choose to breastfeed twins or multiples
As the new year ticks over we are a step closer to celebrating our beautiful twin girls, Ava and Riley's 1st birthdays. This also means I will begin weaning them off breast milk and onto good old cow's milk. A personal choice which comes with a feeling of FREEDOM but also feelings of sadness. I will miss the closeness that brings the three of us together a few times every day.
I thought I would share with you some tips and tricks I've learnt along the way for tandem breastfeeding twins. This is not an advertising article, every brand I reference is because I used them and truly loved them. I also don't expect all the things that worked well for me to work for everyone so take from it what you will.
Twin Breastfeeding pillow.
If you intend on breastfeeding your new darlings, then a good breastfeeding pillow is essential for both the babies comfort and yours!! I am using (my girls are 11 months) a My Breastfriend feeding pillow. I personally have nothing to compare it to, but have used it since their first feed and couldn't have managed without it. It's high enough for babies from newborns to almost one year olds to feed comfortably. When my girls were sparkling new, I would put an extra pillow underneath on either side of the feeding pillow for greater stability. I also like its extra comfort support for your lower back and the fact you can fasten it to your waist prior to picking up your babies. This makes it a lot easier for those times you don't have a pair of helping hands to pass you the babies.
Double electric breast pump
This is essential in the first few days/weeks to establish a good milk supply and enough to feed two babies. Our girls were lucky to have only spent one week in the special care nursery after being born at 35+5 weeks. This week gave me the time I needed to learn how to tandem breastfeed as well as the opportunity to sit uninterrupted and express after each feed. Gently pushed and encouraged by the lovely midwives, once the twinnies had drifted blissfully back to sleep I would sit (even at 3am) and diligently express the tiniest amount of milk after every feed. The first few days I would think to myself there is no way I'm going to be able to have enough milk to feed these babies, but like the nurses encouragingly told me, the more you pump the more you will produce and within days more and more kept coming. I had organised to rent a Medela Symphony like the one I had been using in hospital for when I got home however I never needed it, my milk had established and my girls were feeding beautifully. I realise and understand that this isn't the case for everyone and I am very fortunate to have had this experience.
A large comfy chair or lounge that you can claim as your own for the first four months (give or take).
It needs to be big enough for you to be able to sit, with your double feeding pillow, and a safe space to put a baby down pre or post feed or in the event of a projectile poo or vomit. I tried to always remember to have my phone, TV remote, water and snacks ready on the lounge before sitting. Although my husband would probably argue that this was not the case and more often than not I would get all set up and then request him to get all of the above mentioned items.
A reusable large water bottle that doesn't leak and that you can drink from with one hand. Or a camel pack.
If you've breastfed previously, you would know the feeling of thirst that engulfs you when your babies start sucking and the initial letdown begins. Well the thirst you feel when you have two of the buggers constantly wanting to fill their bellies is what I would imagine running a marathon in the Sahara Desert without any water to feel like. I would recommend refilling your bottle after each feed or have two bottles that you can alternate.
Two good heat packs! One for your neck and shoulders and one for your lower back. Or a live-in masseuse if finances permit!
From my two delivery experiences I can tell you that every bone and muscle in my body was aching. The muscle pain was actually worse with my first born than with my twin delivery! Perhaps this is because my body knew what it was doing second time around or I was so focused on my two babies and toddler that I didn’t have the time to worry about it as much. In any case your body takes a beating like no other and I found that heat packs offered much needed relief for my aching muscles. On top of the labour muscle aches, there are of course the aches that result from feeding. It's natural to look down at your babies as you feed, especially in the first few months when you are all learning what works best for everyone, but the constant looking down and slouching of the shoulders can cause a lot of discomfort for mumma. I (more so my husband) used to have the heat packs ready to apply once I had established my most comfortable position. I use the word ‘comfortable’ loosely as it's not a word that springs to mind when I reflect back on the first few months of our twin girls' lives!
A variety of good feeding singlets.
Forget bras in the initial months. I found I lived in feeding singlets, particularly the Yummy Mummy basic cami by Lovable. I slept in them throughout my pregnancy and after. They offer enough support so that your gigantic norgs don't feel like they are ripping away from your chest when you stand but are loose and comfy enough for those early days when your milk is establishing or for the love of god the babies slept through a feed...rarely!! I loved feeding singlets because it meant I wasn't flashing my belly as well as my boobs!!
Persistence, patience and belief in your body's ability to be able to nourish your babies
I am no different to any other breastfeeding mother and went into breastfeeding my twins with an open mind. I hoped that I would be able to breastfeed but also said to myself that if it ever got too hard or anyone's health be it physical or mental was compromised, I would stop. As time went on it got easier and became more natural. The hope that I had held out initially had turned in to belief. I also think it's important to trust your babies abilities and instincts to learn how to nourish their own bodies. I tried not to overthink and trust the process, thankfully nature did the rest.
Last but not least - a carefree attitude around exposing your tittys for the world to see.
There is no discreet way to tandem breastfeed twins! Personally I am not comfortable with just anyone gawking at my boobs so if I was in public I would feed them separately under a wrap or if we were at home I'd feed them away from guests. To each their own.
Look out for my full recount of my breastfeeding experience with twins coming soon. As much as I am enjoying sharing my experience, I would love to hear from any amazing mummas out there who breastfed triplets or more!!