Twins and Milk Supply
If you’re expecting twins, you may be wondering…is it possible to breastfeed twins? Can my body make enough milk for two babies? Can I really nourish my babies without using formula? The answers are yes, yes and yes!
You body is made to breastfeed! It expects to breastfeed. And when you are carrying twins, your body knows you have twins and transmits the information to your breasts. Before you even give birth, your breasts are gearing up for double duty! In fact, research shows that moms of twins produce more than twice as much milk as moms of singletons. Now that’s preparation!
Your doctor, your doula and your childbirth educator may all have told you, “Most women can’t make enough milk for two babies.” Don’t believe them! If your body is equipped to breastfeed one baby, it is highly likely that you will have sufficient milk for two.
Remember the concept of supply and demand. The more your babies breastfeed, the more milk you produce. If your babies can’t breastfeed immediately after birth (or if one baby can’t breastfeed), use a hospital-grade pump to encourage and maintain milk production.
Here are a few general tips for ensuring ample milk supply when breastfeeding twins:
- First of all, don’t listen to anyone who says you won’t be able to do this!
- Find other moms who are breastfeeding twins and enlist their support. La Leche League may be a good resource to connect with moms of multiples. Many communities have support groups for families with multiples. In Seattle, it’s North Seattle Families of Multiples. Get connected while you are pregnant!
- Read books about breastfeeding—general books as well as books about twins. My favorite twin resource is “Mothering Multiples.”
- Plan on renting a hospital grade pump to use until your milk supply is established. If the babies are born early, or one or both have trouble breastfeeding at first, you will have a machine that can act as a substitute for your babies. Pump as often as your babies eat! Of course, if your babies are both nursing well from birth, you will have no need for a pump. Remember, if only one twin is nursing well, you will still need to pump to simulate two babies at the breast!
- Hire an experienced, trusted lactation consultant (LC) as soon as possible after the babies are born. It’s very important to get things off to a good start. Expect the LC to be supportive of your efforts and positive about your desire to exclusively breastfeed. You can ask about her experience/philosophy before you meet with her.
- Plan on doing nothing but feeding babies, feeding yourself and sleeping for the first 3-6 weeks (longer if the babies are premature). You will need help for meals, laundry, cleaning and errands. Your babies need you! Everything will feel much easier and you’ll be able to cope well if you take good care of yourself.
Will breastfeeding twins be challenging? Of course! Having twins is not easy. You will be learning about two babies at once and learning about breastfeeding at the same time. Without a doubt, there will be a steep learning curve. Once you and the babies have figured it out, however, breastfeeding two can be as easy as breastfeeding one!