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Breastfeeding Twins

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week; and Des Moines Moms Blog is joining people in more than 170 countries in the celebration. We are pleased to bring you a series of posts this week on the topic of breastfeeding, each one coming from a different perspective. If you are just tuning in, be sure to check out the other posts in this series here.

Breastfeeding may be the “natural” choice, but that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally….

I successfully breastfed my firstborn, but I would say that the two of us never got it quite right. We did okay, but we could have done better. I realized that when my second baby came along and made breastfeeding a breeze from the very first latch. I could nurse her in any setting and in any position. Her feeding times were always painless, peaceful, easy, and efficient; and she made me feel like a breastfeeding pro.

And I kind of WAS a pro. Having successfully nursed two babies, I had the breastfeeding thing down… or at least that’s what I thought until I found out I’d be nursing another two babies—twins, that is…. Suddenly, I was back at square one. I would have to learn how to breastfeed all over again, because this time I’d be breastfeeding two at a time.

Cuddling with Twins

It’s funny. I remember a conversation I had with an “elder” twin mommy. Already a mother of twins, she was pregnant with her first singleton; and I, a mother of two singletons, was pregnant with my twins. I approached her in the church nursery one day to let her know that I may need some tips from her on how to breastfeed twins. She was more than happy to be a resource to me, of course; but I’ll never forget when she sincerely replied, “And I may need some tips from you on how to breastfeed a singleton.”

Truly, breastfeeding twins is a whole different ball game than breastfeeding a singleton; and the obvious truth of that is sometimes enough to scare expectant twin mommies away from thinking it can be done. But as April Rudat’s helpful book is titled, Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins!

Oh yes I DID breastfeed twins—for 14 months—but not without a lot of brainstorming and planning. Everything from the setup of the nursery to travelling to going into public places required me to think ahead about how my need to breastfeed twins could be best accommodated.

Here are some of the things I had to take into consideration:

1. Boppy pillows and rocker gliders don’t work.

They aren’t wide enough. That’s why I put a love seat in my nursery and took my twin nursing pillow with me everywhere I went… even to the Iowa State Fair.

2. Covering up isn’t an option.

If getting a singleton latched on underneath a cute little cover-up is awkward, getting TWO babies latched on underneath a cover-up is impossible. First of all, those covers aren’t wide enough; and second of all, I didn’t have that many hands. Situating and securing one large pillow, two hungry babies, and one momma’s t-shirt and nursing bra was truly all my hands, elbows, forearms, and chin could juggle… which is why I pretty much stayed in the privacy of my home for the first year of my twins’ lives.

3. Feeding in public requires planning ahead.

Because of my inability to cover myself up while nursing twins (and my desire to NOT flash everyone in the area), I had to either stay home (as I said in #2) or make different provisions when staying home wasn’t an option. In church, for example, I nursed my babies one at a time so that I could cover up. (This required the help of my husband “holding off” one hungry baby while I fed the other.) When making the six-hour trip alone with my kids to visit my parents, I had to carefully plan my stops ahead of time according to where I had the best chance of finding some privacy.

4. Breastfeeding always requires hard work, but breastfeeding twins is a JOB.

There is no such thing as snuggling in and getting comfortable for a feeding session when you’re nursing two babies at once. It’s an all-in, hands-full, sit-up-and-pay-attention JOB. There’s a whole strategic setup process that includes positioning a baby on each side of where you’ll be sitting, strapping on the twin nursing pillow, sitting down and baring your breasts, and then moving each baby to the pillow to feed. There is only one sitting position that works: back erect, feet flat on the floor, legs firm, and arms bracing. It’s enjoyable, yes, but it’s also a get-in-and-get-it-done kind of thing.

*****

Twin Nursing Pillow

Despite the learning curve, I re-attained my self-given title of “breastfeeding pro”—this time of TWINS—but it wasn’t without the loving support of my husband, family, and friends; the determination and confidence I had in myself; the feeding log I kept for the duration of breastfeeding; and the intentional drinking of LOTS of water.

Oh yes you CAN breastfeed twins, and I DID. It was a job; but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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6 Responses to Breastfeeding Twins

  1. Alicia August 6, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Great article! I too breastfed my singleton and then my twins until they were a year old. I remember starting to feed them individually and quickly realized I was going to have to figure out how to feed them at the same time. I bought a pillow used for twins – a must! Once they were older, I did feed them individually again (at times) as they were on a bit different schedules, were bigger and not as easy to do two at a time and because it was nice to have one-on-one time with each of them. Being able to nurse them was a great accomplishment, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband who was just a committed and working for a company (Principal Financial Group) that supports working mothers!

    • Angela
      Angela August 6, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      Yes, having them on the same feeding (and sleeping!) schedule was a must for me! I know what you mean about them getting too big to nurse at the same time. They had definitely outgrown that twin nursing pillow by the time we were done!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Blessings to you,
      Angela

  2. Shelby August 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m almost 10 months into breastfeeding my twins. And you’re so right, it’s a much different beast than nursing my singleton was. I learned how to feed both at one time as soon as possible, but then chose to feed them individually for several months. My neck, shoulders, and upper back couldn’t handle the contorting required handling my two healthy-sized babes at the same time. We’re back to simultaneous feedings these days to keep the biting at bay. 🙂 There’s nothing more rewarding, and never a dull moment.

    • Angela
      Angela August 6, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

      Congratulations on nursing your twins for this long! You’re right… it can be hard on the back and shoulders, probably because of the inability to adjust your position with two babies latched on! 🙂 It sounds like you’ve been able to make the necessary adjustment in order to keep going, though! Enjoy every moment of having twins. Mine are 4 now, and it just keeps getting better.

      Blessings,
      Angela

  3. Anna November 1, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    This is exactly the situation I’ll be in in December. Two singletons and now twins. Thanks for the pointers! Oh…and isn’t the Iowa state fair an awesome place for nursing babies?

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