NOTE: The following suggestions on breastfeeding multiples are provided as information only. If you have any concerns about your particular situation, please check with a Lactation Consultant or your doctor.
Your breasts are going to make milk anyway, so why not give it a try and see where it leads? You may be pleasantly surprised!
- If you run into any difficulties breastfeeding, get help right away. Don’t wait. Sometimes the answer(s) is very simple and a consultation with a Lactation Consultant may identify the problem and have everyone back on track very quickly.
- Yes, enough milk can be produced for two or even three babies. Milk production is based on demand and supply. Frequent nursing stimulates breasts to meet nursing demands. Three things postively impact milk supply and production: a) frequent feedings of the babies; b) healthy eating, drinking and snacks; and c) keeping stress levels as low as possible.
- Simultaneous feedings help get babies on the same schedule and saves an enormous amount of time. Most mothers of multiples feed simultaneously or one after another. Your babies will let you know which method works best for them.
- Alternate breasts at each feed. It will be necessary to prepare a schedule so that you can remember who ate at which breast and when. By alternating breasts two important issues are addressed: a) one baby may be a better (stronger) sucker than the another thus stimulating the breast differently. Therefore, alternating breasts encourages both breasts to produce enough milk; b) when a baby only nurses at one breast, the lower eye doesn’t get equal opportunity to focus, look around and strengthen (an older nursing baby [i.e 6 months or so] will always look up, make eye contact and smile at you – it makes one’s heart turn over with love). Alternating breasts gives each of the baby’s eyes a chance to perform properly.
- It isn’t unusual to have one baby who is a stronger sucker . When settling down for a simultaneous feeding, put the stronger sucker to the breast first then spend time settling and arranging the second baby. Keeps everyone happier.
- For triplets or more , it may be necessary to introduce some formula before the milk supply is fully established. There are a couple of choices within this situation: a) top up each baby after a breast feed; b) feed two by breast and one by bottle, alternating who gets which at each feed (a schedule will need to be kept for equal opportunities). A helpful idea for increasing breast milk with triplets is to feed two babies, at each breast, followed by the third one on each breast. S uch a routine provides optimum opportunity to increase milk supply to meet the demand.
- If you can, pump after each feed , collecting and freezing pumped breast milk for bottle feeding. Label and date the bottles. Following is a guide for storing breast milk:
At room temperature – 10 hours
In the fridge – 8 days
In a fridge freezer – 2 weeks
In a deep freeze – 6 months or longer
Previously frozen breast milk can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours. Do not refreeze previously frozen breast milk.*
- Never microwave breast milk . The high temperature affects its nutritional value. Breast milk defrosts very quickly in a bowl of hot water in the kitchen sink. The milk itself need not be hot, room temperature will do.
- Using a twin nursing pillow is a real advantage. This larger pillow can comfortably cradle two babies at a time and allows burping/changing one while the other continues to feed.
- Breast feeding is a learned art , for both mother and babies. Be patient, give it time and, if necessary, get some help.
- Babies hit a growth spurt at about 6 weeks. As a result, they may feed more often. Many Moms interpret shorter times between feeds as they don’t have enough milk. Consequently, they become discouraged and quit nursing. Continuing to nurse will soon rebuild the milk supply to meet the demand. Don’t give up too soon.
* Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins & More, by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, La Leche League International, 1999
Multiple Births Canada
La Leche League of Canada Referral Service
Lactation Consulting Services Canada
Dr. Jack Newman