Breast feeding tips and advice — The Bump
Multiples

Breast feeding tips and advice

Hi, all! I'm currently 37 weeks pregnant with my twins and anxiously expecting their arrival in the next few weeks. I've spent a lot of time during this pregnancy stressing about the mechanics of breast feeding two. I'm terrified to fail at it! I've read Mothering Multiples (twice!), met with a lactation consultant, listened to the Twintalks breast feeding podcasts, and taken a breast feeding class (though it was geared towards parents expecting singletons). 

Currently I'm making a list of things that are "normal" (ie nursing strikes, growth spurts, etc) so that in my sleep deprived state, I don't assume I'M the problem when little issues arise. I'm looking to add little tips and advice from MoMs who have BTDT. What piece of advice would you give a new MoM about breast feeding? What thing(s) do you wish you knew when you were first starting out on your BFing journey? Any words of encouragement?

Thanks!
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Re: Breast feeding tips and advice

  • Get them evaluated right away with an LC for latch and lip/tongue ties. And get a good pillow! My twins were my 2nd and 3rd so I had some experience but feeding them at the same time as soon as you can helps with time management! I also got a love seat for their room. I bought a glider first but it that wouldn't work for feeding two!
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  • Ask for help in the hospital. Make sure you see an LC and make sure you tell everyone you come in contact with that you want to make BFing work.

    My oldest was a 37w (twins were 34w and in the NICU w NG tubes) and near-term babies tend to be very sleepy. Ask for tips on how to keep them awake and eating.

    Remember that their stomachs are the size of marbles in the beginning. You don't need to produce a lot to fill that and it is totally normal to feed every 1.5-2 hrs. Also normal for feeding to last 30-45min. Because of that, I highly recommend tandem bc otherwise feeding is constant. It may take a few days for your milk to come in (mine took 5 days, which is on the longer end).

    It's not pain-free, but it's also temporary. I loved gel pads on my nips to get me through the first couple weeks. Lanolin also works.

    The first 2 weeks and then the first 6 weeks are rough. It gets better. So so so much better. Never quit on a bad day and don't be afraid to ask for help.

    I nursed my oldest for 20mo and the twins for 14mo. You can do it!
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    spoonlegsarums4[Deleted User]
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  • I forgot about one up both up (OUBU). It's a sanity saver and a must if you tandem. Feeding at the same time sometimes (but not always) leads to sleeping at the same time which leads to both being on the same schedule. Which means you get downtime (if you don't have other kids, of course).

    At night, I went with whoever woke up first. The other one would get a diaper change also and then would fed as well.

    Have H help at night. Have him get the babies, change them and bring them to you to nurse. Have him help you out them back in their cribs or whatever and have him soothe back to sleep if they don't fall asleep right away (they will in the beginning).

    You'll find your groove. Different things work for different people.
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    spoonlegsarums4
  • Thank you all so much! The encouragement is much appreciated.

    I should have mentioned that I do have the My Brest Friend Twin pillow, an electric pump, and both nipple butter and lanolin. I will be a SAHM and my husband will be home to help for a couple months. We don't have any family nearby so it will be just the two of us! Our LC is "on call" and will come to the hospital to help with latching after they are born, and can make house calls if we have any issues after discharge. 

    I'm hoping that I can muddle through those first few difficult weeks so that we can establish an awesome long-term nursing relationship. I'm so afraid that I'll hit a few bumps in the road, panic, and say, "forget this, I can't do it." It doesn't help that friends with singletons have all made a point of sharing horror stories from nursing ONE baby, and some have gone as far as to say I'll never be able to EBF twins. So discouraging! It's nice to hear from twin moms who have been successful. Thank you!
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    starlightgator
  • I would echo a lot of the advice on here!  I just want to encourage you that it IS possible and it is not necessarily terrible.  Overwhelming, yes, but completely doable.  I found breastfeeding one of my singletons was harder than my twins!  It just depends on what kind of babies you have.  One may be better at nursing than the other.  One may need a little more help or some supplementation.  That is all ok!  I found tandem nursing to be more efficient, but nursing one at a time to be easier and more relaxing.  We probably do 50/50.  It just depends on what situation you are in at the time.  
    Definitely get a lot of help and support in the hospital, from the LCs to the nurses who can help you get them situated.  Try tandem feeding as soon as you can; it is easier to troubleshoot in the hospital when you have someone there to help you.  
    Have a lot of grace with yourself.  Use any and all tools you can.  I had both of my girls on nipple shields for a couple of weeks, had to get all purpose nipple cream prescribed twice, supplemented with droppers in the beginning, and introduced a bottle of formula when they were 2-3 weeks old to give myself (and my nipples!) a break for one feeding at night.  They are now 6 months old, nurse about 5 times a day, and take one formula bottle before bed.  I am SO glad we are nursing!
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    spoonleg
  • - skin to skin/ nurse right away
    - spend time with a LC in the hospital focusing on latch
    - get some gel pads (medela makes some) now; they work way better than lanolin and really help with the discomfort in the first few weeks (by the way the discomfort gors away with time)
    -in the beginning you will nurse all the time- literally- someone other than you needs to cook, clean, and manage everything other than nursing
    -if possible avoid bottles, formula, nipple shields and anything else that can interfere with the latch
    Good luck
    spoonlegtwinmom1121starlightgator
  • Oh and I never found a nursing pillow I liked (either for my singleton or twins). Regular bed pillows (2 if tandem feeding) worked way better for me (and use a small throw pillow behind your low back).
    OUBU didn't work for us either- educate yourself but trust your instincts too.
    spoonleg
  • You've heard the breastfeeding success stories here and some not-so-successful breastfeeding stories from your friends. I guess my advice would be to hope you will be among the successful (and set yourself up with support as others have recommended), but realize that so much is not in your control, so be kind to yourself if you are not able to EBF. My breastfeeding "horror story" was only a horror story because I tried too hard for too long and nearly landed my DS in the hospital from dehydration. (Low supply, obviously.) I really really regret spending the first month of his life in a lactation clinic. It's part of the reason I decided to EFF the twins. (Also knowing that my supply issues were not likely to resolve, especially with 2 babies!)

    I just think that EBF is an incredibly high bar for MOMs. There's even research out now that shows supplementing can salvage and even prolong the breastfeeding relationship. Good luck to you! 
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  • I have to echo what @pillowass said.  I tried really hard and stressed myself out a lot with trying to supply for the two babies during and after the NICU.  I pumped as much as possible, drank water, took Fenugreek, did everything the LC told me to, and it just wasn't working.  I only got enough for about 1/4 of their feeds.  I tried for 3 months, then quit for a week or two and tried to relactate bc I felt so bad about it, still wasn't any better than before.  My problem was that my Baby A wouldn't latch, her mouth was too small.  She wouldn't take a breast shield and getting any calories in her at all was a struggle for the first 7 months anyway.  Trying to feed her, get sleep, take care of her (much easier) twin brother AND power pump?  Wasn't working.  If they had been term babies, I think it would've worked.  This post is in no way trying to discourage you, I just wish I had shown myself a little grace early on.  I'm glad for the bit of nursing I could do and I enjoyed the connection with my babies when nursing, but I needed someone to tell me it was okay to call it quits if it wasn't working.  All the FB groups were full of people saying that it was absolutely possible for everyone if you were really committed and wanted it bad enough.  It really only made me feel guilty.  The fact is, I was committed.  I was committed to being the best Mom I could be, and sometimes, honestly, that includes bottle feeding when it comes down to it.  :P
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  • PS - rent a hospital-grade pump from the hospital.  One thing that hurt me is that I sent that one back after a month and tried to use the one my insurance company paid for to save money.  I think if I'd kept the hospital one straight through, my supply might've been able to keep up.  Good luck!
    m/c my Angel Baby in 2000
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    "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future"   Jer 29:11
    "All things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose"  Rom 8:28
    "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of salvation unto all who believe"  Rom 1:16
    spoonleg
  • For me it was just to keep breastfeeding through the issues and the pain. I had engorgement issues, plugged milk ducts, slight mastitis, but I kept doing it and it got better. My twins are almost 14 months and we still exclusively Breastfeed (with solids and whole cows milk). It is definitely doable! If you plan on tandem, get a twin pillow! I loved the Brest friend pillow. I used it from about 1-8 or 9 months and it worked great for us. You have to figure out the logistics of how to get the babies on there and latched but once you do, you get into a groove and it is easy! I never talked with a lactation consultant except for in the hospital, but definitely do if you need the help. Good luck! Oh and to echo what slmeone already said, get some of the gel pads and keep them in the freezer! I kept mine on and switched them out for cold ones all the time for the relief when you are sore in the first few weeks/months.

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    spoonlegsarums4
  • This is a great thread, thanks everyone for the tips.  I'll be remembering to read this again closer to when I have my twins!!!

    One thing that struck me when I was reading up on BFing with my first, is that the single biggest factor in determining whether or not a woman will end up with a successful breastfeeding relationship is the attitude of her partner.  So my advice, talk to your partner about why its important to you, and what you expect them to do to support you.  

    (My husband was 100% supportive of BFing once I told him that the baby's poop wouldn't smell as bad and that it was free :)  He also cared about the health benefits for me and babe, obv, but those first 2 reasons were enough to sell him.)
    spoonleg
  • A lot of good advice on this thread! I think its great you have done so much research beforehand - I wish I had done more! My boys were born at 36 weeks so it was tougher to get them to latch on in the beginning. One especially had trouble and we came home on bottles. I felt awful about it! Just remember they need practice practice practice. Its ok to just sit on the couch all day and feed for the first month. Both boys are exclusively breastfed now. Get people lined up to help with meals and cleaning so that you can focus on feeding the babies. Really helps to have a supportive partner as well. Its hard and there are days at 10 weeks that I still want to quit (dealing with thrush currently), but I just tell myself dealing with bottles and formula wouldn't be much easier!

    Also, for my boys it has worked better to have each boy on their own side. I was doing this for the majority of feeds but then thought I should switch it up so their necks wouldn't get so used to turning to one side. So for an entire 24 hrs I put them on their opposite sides. Big mistake! Each breast had already adjusted itself to the way the boys eat (one eats more less frequently and the other less more frequently) so I ended up getting slightly engorged again and my one baby was getting frustrated because there was too much milk.

    Oh and one last thing, make sure you have a ton of easy to grab snacks around. You will have very little time to prepare food but will need a lot of extra calories to feed the babies. I keep losing weight which isn't good! Keep snacks near your nursing stations! I eat a ton of trail mix at night.
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    spoonleg
  • @spoonleg‌ - Thank you so much for giving us an update! As you discover tips/tricks that work, it would be great to learn from your experience! I'm only 21 wks, with a ton to read still, so any helpful tips are greatly appreciated!
  • Honestly, I never got the hang of tandem breastfeeding (while on my own).  So I would breastfeed one while bottle feeding the other (in a boppy), and then pump after.  I always had to supplement with formula.  Both girls were hypoglycemic and milk didn't come in until day 5/6.  I think if I had more help then I may have been more successful at exclusively BF-ing, but I was on my own for the first 3 months.  I went back to work at 3 months, and the stress and lack of time with that transition was a big reason for me not making it past 3 months.  My only suggestion is to take it easy on yourself.  Any bit of BFing is good, but formula is not bad either.  Do not be too hard on yourself and enjoy all the wonderful newborn snuggles!

     

  • CaliCarly77CaliCarly77
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    edited January 2015
    What a great update!! We too had a rough patch in the beginning but made it through to my goal of 3 months of EBF or breast milk bottles. (and yes - had the same low sugar needs formula thing in the hospital! what a pain in the ass!) 

    I just wanted to chime in and say we didn't tandem nurse. It didn't work for me, and I preferred my one on one time with each girl :) 

    ETA - I would feed one, then the other right after. They were (usually) very good about being patient and waiting. 
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    sarums4
  • I found this thread very helpful! I'm almost 20 weeks and my mind is just racing with all these overwhelming thoughts I have. I'm glad to know to you can successfully breast feed twins bc in my mind I feel like I have already given up trying
  • My almost 1 month old twins are fed back to back, I exclusively pump all of their milk and they have formula, but I make enough milk to feed them both all day so I'm not using the formula unless the ped tells me to. My milk came in on day 4 but the girls were on IV and formula until then, which I had no problem with. I'm now on my 4th week of pumping and it has gotten much easier. I've learned that pumping while feeding the girls is most time effective for MOTN feedings and during the day I pump after they eat. I hope all is going well for you and those babies!
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  • I managed tandem feeding, football hold, with My Brest Friend. But my girls are tongue tied, one hurts a LOT even with nipple shield- so she gets pumped bottles now. Hubby is supportive, but doesnt understand tongue tie- so can be an ass when I say, no to BF and have him give a bottle of Breastmilk....GL, mine were csection 12/24- the whole NICU seemed to frown on BFing... good to be home :-)
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