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Breast feeding twins

Having twins is a challenge, especially in the first few weeks after birth. About half of twin births are born early. Premature babies take longer to learn how to breastfeed. Your babies may have special needs that will delay the start of breastfeeding. Don’t be shy to ask for the help you need. You will need a lot of rest, so try to sleep when the babies are asleep. To save time, try to breastfeed the twins at the same time.

Can twins be breastfed?

Yes, twin babies can grow well feeding only on breast milk. The breast has the ability to make the amount of milk that is removed from it, thus the more milk that twins consume, the more milk that a woman makes. Your babies are getting enough milk if they are gaining weight and if they are having 6 or more wet diapers and 4 or more bowel movements a day. Check with your babies’ doctor to be sure that feeding and growing are proceeding normally.

Generally, twins feed more frequently. So expect at least 9 feedings a day with twins.

It saves time to breast feed both babies at the same time, but it is also okay to feed them one after another too. If you are feeding only one twin, remember that it is important that each baby feed from both breasts. You should alternate the breast at which a baby begins to feed, regardless of whether or not they are a twin.

Does it take longer to breastfeed twins?

If you are feeding both twins at the same time and if your milk supply is sufficient for both babies, it takes no longer to feed two as it does to feed one. Again, check with your babies’ doctor to be sure all is proceeding well.

What are the best positions for breast-feeding twins?

Feeding both babies at once is best achieved by placing the babies in the football hold position (see illustration). You can also use the football hold for one baby the cradle hold for the other. As you are learning, make sure you have room around you to place pillows to support you and the babies. Pillows specifically designed for breastfeeding twins are available to be purchased on the web. You can also position the babies somewhat variably; experiment with positioning to find what suits you and the babies best.

Some mothers may wish to breast feed a baby while laying down. If you have twins, you can place one baby on each of your sides, feed one, roll onto your other side and feed the second twin.

If I breastfeed twins, am I likely to have breast soreness?

Soreness of the nipples has more to do with how the babies latch onto the breast. When babies go on and off the breast well, you should be able to prevent cracked or painful nipples. In breast-feeding twins, you will have about twice as many times for a baby to latch on and off, so try each time to be sure that the baby latches gently and easily.

Where can I get help with breast-feeding?

If you have questions or worries, call your healthcare provider. You may also want to get the help of a lactation consultant trained to help women who are breast-feeding. Parent support groups such as La Leche League or Nursing Mother’s Counsel can also be helpful.

Written by Robert Brayden, MD Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine. Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-03
Last reviewed: 2010-06-03 This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. References
Pediatric Advisor 2011.4 Index
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