Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets

Breastfeeding twins and triplets? Yes, you can! Many women have successfully breastfed their twin babies, some for over two years.

We are all well aware of the benefits of breastmilk for babies and many wonderful and supportive ‘how to’ books have been written on the subject (some of those books are listed after this article). Even if your babies are premature, you can still breastfeed them. You can pump and take your milk into the hospital for feeding to your babies’. The nutritional content of each mother’s breastmilk is best suited for her babies’ needs. (Source: Side by Side, Breastfeeding Multiples – video, Calgary Foothills Pipeline Hospital).

Check lower down this page for some hints on breastfeeding triplets.

When preparing for breastfeeding, here are some helpful hints:

  • Properly prepare for breastfeeding by reading a general information book on breastfeeding.
  • Discuss your wishes with your partner before birth. It is important that you both have a commitment to breastfeeding and your partner be fully supportive.
  • Get together with other women who have successfully breastfed twins and triplets. Compare notes, pick up hints, ideas and shortcuts. Your local community may offer a breastfeeding class geared towards multiples. Check with your local Health Unit. You may also connect with your local La Leche League Group for support both before and after the babies’ birth.
  • If possible, put your babies to the breast immediately after birth. If you are unable to do so, make sure you have made prior arrangements with your doctor and hospital nurse staff and that they are fully aware of your commitment to breastfeeding. Make your intentions to breastfeed clear and make arrangements to pump and collect milk until such time as you will have the babies with you and can feed them yourself. A double pump is a great investment and can save you a lot of time. Remember: Both you and the babies are learning about breastfeeding. Babies are not born knowing how to suckle. You will need to work together (perhaps with the assistance of a Lactation Consultant while in the hospital) to learn how to breastfeed successfully.
  • It is very common to have one baby who latches on quicker or more easily than the other. Put that baby to the breast first and then you will have ample time to work with settling the other baby who may need a little more coaxing and attention with latching. Another excellent investment is a horse-shoe shaped nursing pillow. Make sure the pillow you purchase is large enough to hold the two babies together. Some of the pillows available in stores are smaller and made for nursing only one baby at a time.
  • Your milk supply will be influenced by several factors: 1) how often you feed the babies (and/or pump); 2) how often you rest; and 3) the stress levels you are experiencing. You will produce an appropriate volume of milk to meet the babies’ demand (the supply meets the demand) and it is equally important to be sure and get enough rest and to limit the stress levels in your day in order to assist you in producing milk (if the beds don’t get made today, so be it!).
  • If you arrive home and have difficulties latching a baby or you or your babies are having difficulties, don’t be shy. Call your local Health Unit and find out where Breastfeeding Support Clinics are held, call your local Twin/Triplet support Chapter, Lactation Consultant or La Leche League Group. Get the help you need to assist you and your babies.
  • It may be that you will experience some nipple soreness when nursing two babies. If you stop nursing, the soreness will only return after the babies begin nursing again. Try nursing for shorter periods of time, but more often. If you are experiencing some pain, it is usually associated with poor positioning. Remove your baby, reposition him and try again. If you continue to experience nipple soreness, seek out some guidance from one of the groups mentioned above.
  • Babies hit a growth spurt any where from 3 to 6 weeks of age (and not necessarily each at the same time) and then at regular intervals of about 6 weeks each after that, depending upon each individual baby. Don’t worry if it appears that you are ‘running out of milk’ as it is more likely the babies are feeding more often due to a growth spurt. Soon the increased demand will meet up with the supply and regular feeding intervals will again develop. Their growth rate slows down at about 3 or 4 months.
  • Do not assign one baby exclusively to a breast because: 1) they may be uneven suckers and very shortly you will have a lopsided shape due to their uneven sucking patterns. Alternating the babies on each breast will even out any different sucking patterns; and very importantly 2) when a baby is assigned to only one breast, the baby’s upper eye gets over worked, while the one below can become lazy and not react properly to stimulous.
  • If you find that one or both of your babies is having difficulties with one feeding position, try a different one. One Mom of twins reported that her son would not breastfeed if he was ‘under’ his sister. The weight of his sister, while using the cradlehold position, was something that he would not tolerate. When she switched to the football hold, which allowed each baby to be free of touching one another, he settled right down and breastfeeding went extremely well.
  • Your babies should eat initially every 2-1/2 to 3 hours and you will need to nurse at least 8 times a day for several weeks. Some babies need to nurse more often.
  • Triplets – For Moms wishing to breastfeed triplets, a suggestion to assist in building up your milk supply is to put two babies each to a breast for 10 minutes and the third baby on each breast for five minutes, at each feed. At the next feed, rotate the turn of the third baby so that each baby has a turn being on the breast within the first 10 minutes. Some Moms have reported a reasonable amount of success in building up their milk supply by using this rotating system. It is agreed that it is difficult to exclusively breastfeed three babies and I know of only one family who successfully did so exclusively for nearly two years. However, I am aware of several triplet families who have very happily partially breast-fed their babies for different durations of time.

Breastfeeding Multiples – Positions

You can be assured that your babies are feeding well if:

  • there are 6 to 8 soaking wet cloth diapers or 5 to 6 wet disposable diapers per baby in 24 hours during the first six weeks;
  • each baby is having 2 to 5 bowel movements in 24 hours during the first six weeks;
  • they are feeding at least 8 to 12 times a day for a duration of 10 to 40 minutes. Duration and number of feeding times per day will vary with each baby.

Breastmilk can be stored at room temperature for about 10 hours; in a refrigerator for about 8 days; freezer compartment with a separate door for 3-4 months and in a separate deep freeze for 6 months.*

Other Resources for Breastfeeding Your Multiples

I love the drawings in some of these books. It is very helpful to actually ‘see’ the positions so they can be interpretted correctly and find the ones that will work best for you and your babies.

*Source: Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding & Caring for Twins or More!! by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, La Leche League International (a great book, easily understood and takes you through the steps of breastfeeding, what ‘problems’ to look for and how to correct them, the important role of partner and lots more!)

The Joy of Twins and other multiple births by Pamela Patrick Novotny, Crown Trade Paperback Inc. (includes excellent diagrams of possible positions for simultaneous feeding)

Double Duty by Christina Baglivi Tinglof, Contemporary Books (also has some great illustrations for feeding positions. Walks you clearly through the steps of breastfeeding and has a list of ‘5 Top Breastfeeding Boo Boos’.)

Multiple Blessings by Betty Rothbart, M.S.W., Hearst Books (Has a Chapter devoted to breastfeeding, including feeding the babies simultaneously or back to back, creating a peaceful environment for breastfeeding and more! Also has excellent drawings showing different breastfeeding positions.)

Clothing & Equipment Suggestions for Twins and Triplets


NOTE: The writers of this Website do not accept any responsibility for the purchase of any of these items nor do they recommend one product over another. In order to ensure the safety of your children, please check out all safety regulations before you make your purchases, especially for secondhand or borrowed items.

aAll of the items contained on this list are suggested only. (Higher number represents triplets.)

You may not need or want each and every item.

  • Car Seats – babies MUST be in properly installed car seats even when being brought home from the hospital. IT’S THE LAW!
  • Appropriate stroller[s] , could be a combination of twin and/or triplet strollers (see Multiple Births Canada’s Strollers Fact Sheet for greater details on stroller brands, types and details.)

JUMELLE: The Best Baby Tracker App Keep easy track of which baby did what, when and for how long. Hints, tips and ideas for coping with 2 or more babies.

  • Single stroller(s) in case you wish to take only one child out at a time
  • Rocking chair
  • One crib can do for at least the first few weeks or possibly months. Purchase other(s) as needed. The babies initially won’t bother each other, and this purchase method spreads out costs and saves on laundry. Be sure that all mattresses are of a good quality.
  • 1 or 2 Playpens- especially important if you have an older child(ren) or large pet. While travelling or visiting, playpens can double as cribs.
  • 1 or 2 Baby Swings. They can take up a lot of room when set up and are difficult to store. Not all children like swings, so try to borrow extra if you need to.
  • Change table – not always essential. A low dresser and padded top will also work fine!
  • Sunshades for vehicle windows
  • 2 or 3 day cradles
  • 3 to 6 dozen cloth diapers (also useful as shoulder burp cloths)
  • 12-18 pairs of plastic pants (or current outer-style plastic pants)
  • 4-6 packages of newborn size disposable diapers
  • Diaper inserts or liners
  • 1 or 2 diaper pails. Diaper pail rinse (1/2 cup white vinegar per half pail full of water as a presoak works as urine neutralizer in diaper pail)
  • Handiwipes – soft wash clothes work just as well and are cheaper in the long run. Some babies have a skin reaction to what is in handiwipes
  • 8-12 receiving blankets
  • 6-9 baby blankets
  • 8-12 bibs
  • 8-10 fitted crib sheets
  • 10-12 quilted pads, plastic on one side
  • 3 per baby, Nighties – you may wish to use nighties until the umbilical cord stubs fall off.
  • 4-6 baby towels, complete with hoods if you wish – you can use regular towels
  • 8-12 small, soft face cloths
  • A few comfortable outfits each for visiting
  • Sweaters, bonnets, bunting bags, socks, booties, hats – amounts dependent upon the season
  • Snowsuit per child. If your babies are born in the Spring, wait until Fall to purchase suits so you will purchase correct sizes.
  • Rectal/digital thermometer
  • Large diaper bag, convenient sized bag or backpack (allowing your hands to be free), for outings – check out the Luggage Department as some carry-on baggage may suit your needs
  • Mild baby soap, Vaseline, Q-tips, rubbing alcohol (for naval), Penaten/Zincofax cream, baby shampoo, mild laundry soap, baby nail scissors, baby oil/lotion (Purchase small sizes initially in order to ascertain whether or not your babies will have any allergies)
  • A batheze leaves your hands free to wash the baby (bath rings are not recommended as the suction cups can easily come detached while in use).
  • A plastic bathtub, should you wish to use one. The large tub area frightens some children and a plastic tub can fit directly into the bathtub to make the area smaller. Can be recycled as the children grow – put on the lawn with water in Summer for play, to hold toys, bathe dolls.
  • Appropriate crib toys and age-appropriate colourful toys.
  • Nightlight(s), baby room monitor
  • Padded head rest per baby (fit into car seats to stop babies’ head from rolling around)
  • 1 or 2 Baby Snuglis, one for each parent and the third baby in a stroller
  • Large horse-shoe shaped pillow for feeding two babies
  • 6 large bottles per baby. These can be used for pumped breast milk or if formula feeding
  • small bottles for pumped breast milk, water or juice
  • 4-cup measuring cup (for measuring water for formula)
  • Bottle and nipple brush
  • Formula is available by the case at drug stores and supermarkets. Shop around for the best prices. Try to make a deal with the store manager to buy larger quantities and receive lower prices. Prices change week to week, even at the same store. These are called ‘Lost Leaders.’
  • 1 baby book per child to record day-to-day milestones, camera/video camera, computer back up stick so photos are not lost

NOTE: Bumper pads and Baby Quilt Comforters are not recommended due to concerns regarding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related to crib deaths. This is be a big concern when dealing with premature infants. Their inability to throw off the baby quilt should it cover their face or push away from the bumper pads puts them at great risk of smothering.

Do We Still Have Triplets?

The triplets were born at 29 weeks gestation, at about 2-1/2 lbs., 2 lbs. and 2 lbs. respectively. At ten days old, the eldest and largest succumbed to complications due to his prematurity. The parents were, naturally, devastated and the father asked me, “Do we still have triplets?” Without even hesitating, I answered, “Yes, your babies remain as they were conceived and you are still the parents of triplets. Nothing can change that. The difference is you have two on Earth and one in Heaven.” This makes perfect sense to me.

To call these precious babies “twins”, from this point forward, is not correct for a couple of reasons: 1) three babies were conceived and three babies were born. To call them “twins” denies the short life of a precious, much loved and wanted child, and 2) the simple truth is the two living siblings are surviving triplets and not twins at all!

The question, “Do we still have twins (triplets? quadruplets? multiples?)” is one of the most common questions from parents who have lost one or more of their multiple birth babies. Those working with multiples and their families or whom are bereaved parents who have conceived multiples and lost one or more, have no difficulty in understanding that surviving children remain twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets. Making others understand such a concept, can be an enormous challenge. Sadly, some of the most painful denials come from family members.

One mother who delivered premature twins and one succumbed some 10 hours later due to birth anomalies, tearfully explained that her mother-in-law never mentions their deceased daughter. Her mother-in-law did not attend her granddaughter’s funeral and, four years later, continues to celebrate the birthday of her “’singleton’ granddaughter.” In addition, this same mother received a card from a co-worker reading “Congratulations on the Birth of your Daughter” even though her co-worker was fully aware she had been carrying twins.

This mother was inconsolable as she recounted her story. These are enormous hurdles for any parent to face: their grief has not been recognized; their daughter’s life has not been recognized or acknowledged, and Mom has not been given “permission” to grieve by either her mother-in-law or co-worker. She remains confused as well as very hurt and angry that her twin daughter’s life, albeit a short one, is completely denied. Mom would love nothing more than to talk about the loss of her child and the future that would have unfolded. While she and her husband feel that they are the parents of twins, others do not understand or share the same point of view and no doubt due to their own inadequate feelings around death, especially that of a child, choose to ignore the loss and celebrate the life of a “singleton child.”

This kind of situation is a very difficult for any family to have to deal with and, unfortunately, not all that uncommon for parents with surviving multiples. Not only is the birth and short life of their child (even if only in utero) denied, but the parents are not provided a safe place to share their sorrow in surroundings with people who understand and care about them. These parents are not “permitted” to acknowledge that they lost a child as well as a unique parenting experience, nor that their surviving child(ren) has lost a unique sibling relationship. The message given to many such bereaved families is that they must “carry on.” Research has also shown that in such situations, parents suffer compicated and prolonged grief when their loss is unrecognized by the people closest to them (Patricia Swanson, et al.).

Children are not interchangeable. Each and every child is important, no matter how short their stay with us. Hopes, joy, dreams, love and future planning are tied up in awaiting the birth of a child and dramatically affected when those dreams are brutally cut short. Parents with surviving multiples have the burden of extreme feelings, both at the same time: Joy at the birth of their child and Despair at the death of their child.

Whether or not parents wish to divulge their personal history will depend upon the situation they are in. With extended family or good friends, they may be open about the loss of their baby(ies). With strangers at the Mall, the parents of two surviving triplets may choose to just let comments pass, “Oh, how wonderful. You have twins!”, or even, the very painful comment “Be thankful you didn’t have triplets.” Which ever way you choose to handle the situation is the right way.

There is no doubt in my mind that the above mentioned family still has triplets, two with them here on Earth and one in Heaven.

Lynda’s Note

Many thanks to Dr. Beth Pector for her feedback and input on this article. 


Suggested Reading List for Parents Expecting Twins, Triplets and More!

Forever Linked: A Mother’s Journey Through Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Erin Bruch, Philatory Ink, 299 pages, $14.95US, ISBN 13: 978-1-936519-02-6

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a disease of the placenta and can affect monozygotic (identical) babies, including within triplets or more when there are monozygotics. It has a spectrum from mild to severe and if left untreated, can result in death for one or both babies, or put in jeopardy the complete pregnancy for triplets or more.

Erin Bruch explains what TTTS is, how it can happen, the need to have the diagnosis as early as possible in a multiple-birth pregnancy, about managing it and what it feels like for the parents and families to go through, sometimes with the loss of one or both babies. In addition, 21 mothers’ stories of their twin pregnancies are followed from finding out their babies had TTTS, the worry that knowledge carried, through their births and outcomes. Bruch has included a drawing of what a TTTS placenta might look like. It is a helpful visual in understanding what is happening with the babies and why their struggle with TTTS can be a life and death matter. I also find both the cover pictures to be important visuals of what the babies go through with their unequal sharing within the womb.

If your babies have or had TTTS and if you like first hand accounts, this is definitely a must-read book.

Twice the Love, compiled and edited by Susan H. Heim, in collaboration with TWINS Magazine, 2007, ISBN 1-891846-31-0, 208 pages, $13.95 US

Includes 82 stories from families with twins and more, and in some cases singletons as well. It is well worth the read. Pick it up and open it anywhere to enjoy entertaining stories, tales, joys, challenges, and adventures that belong to families with multiples. Or if you prefer, Heim has chosen to group the stories by subject, e.g. Becoming a Family, Trials and Triumphs, Mischievous Multiples (no kidding!). You are not alone in your journey and the bonding that goes on with other families with multiples in this delightful book proves it!

It’s Twins: Parent-to-Parent Advice from Infancy Through Adolescence, Susan M. Heim, Hampton Road Publishing Co. Inc., 2007, ISBN 13: 978-1-57174-531-6, 306 Pages, $17.95 US

From the first few weeks through to 17 years, Heim covers many of the bases parents could expect to face and she doesn’t shy away from the tough discussion such as when bottle feeding is best for you and your twins. Two of my favorite Chapters addressed the advantages and disadvantages of being twins when the kids have reached adolescence. Even if you haven’t reached that stage yet, here are some thoughts for you to prepare yourselves. Another nice touch is each section has Points to Ponder with writing space for the reader to address those topics which are pertinent to them.

I liked that this book addresses the whole spectrum of raising multiples and did not just focus on the early weeks, months and years. Birthday party planning is important as is encouraging them to play with others, but so is dominancy, disabilities, when they mature at different rates, college – together or separate? and my favorite certainly as expressed to me by other parents with monozygotic (identical) multiples, the Old “Switcheroo.”

I found this book uplifting, informative, thoughtful and I wasn’t beyond laughing out loud at some points from understanding and having “been there, done that.”

Emotionally Healthy Twins: A new philosophy for parenting two unique children, by Joan A. Friedman, Ph.D., 2008, Da Capo Press Books, soft cover, 245 pages.

I am SO excited about this book! There, that’s off my chest. For anyone expecting or raising multiples, this book needs to be on their recommended reading list! There are several very good books which focus on the early (and intense) years of raising multiples. Friedman’s book addresses the early years’ challenges and explores the parenting scenario beyond, into the multiples’ young adult years and does so with insight and personal knowledge.

As someone working with multiples and their families for over 2 decades, I was pleased to note that Friedman encourages parents to look beyond their multiples’ unique bond and to focus as well on what makes them individuals. Every child, even if they arrive more than one at a time, needs and deserves the chance to discover his or her unique potential, and have ample opportunities to nourish and develop their individualities. Parents set the tone in their multiples’ development and Friedman asks them to honestly evaluate their contribution to encouraging their twins to become self-sufficient. Friedman provides several examples of twins whom have flourished within their “twinship” but floundered or were impeded when they needed to separate from each other. Her messages are some that every parent raising multiples needs to hear.

Friedman is a twin herself and has twin sons and 3 singletons, so she has many support bases covered. This book is an important addition to the reading resources for anyone raising their multiples.

Womb Mates: A Modern Guide to Fertility and Twinning
, by Gary D. Steinman, and Christina Verni, 2007, Baffin Books Publishing, 121 pages, soft cover

Any couple looking into infertility treatments to assist them in getting pregnant would benefit from reading this book before they begin their treatments. It thoroughly sets the stage for such families to understand the chances of them conceiving at least twins, how that might happen and the many possible ramifications. Dr. Steinman describes, in easy to understand language, how twinning occurs (the controllable and uncontrollable factors) and explores such topics as the risks of a multiple-birth pregnancy for the mother and babies and the different types of infertility assistance. Important issues for prospective parents to consider.

Healthcare and related professionals, researchers as well as some parents could get a lot out of this book. In other words, this book is very technical. I don’t think that it would be as valuable to parents who desire to learn how to get their babies on the same schedule or how to deal with sleep deprivation, for example. For most parents looking for ideas and answers in handling their new families, this is not a book I would recommend.

Nevertheless, this book belongs on the shelf of anyone involved with teaching multiple-birth prenatal classes, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants and those wanting to better understand how to better meet the needs of their clientele.

One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular, by Abigail Pogrebin, Double Day, 2009, hardcover, 275 pages, $26.95 US; $33.00 Cdn.

I’ve read a lot of books about multiples, and this one I could not put down.  It is one thing to raise multiples and address the unique challenges, joys and pleasures of doing same, but quite another to be a multiple.  In her research, Pogrebin has not only drawn on her experiences and journey with her monozygotic sister, but interviewed a plethora of well-known experts in the field of multiples (many of them being multiples themselves) as well as speaking with many sets of multiples across the U.S.  In addition she attended the International Society of Twins Studies Conference in Belgium to gather more data and attended the annual Conference of Twins held in Twinsburg, Ohio.  As most of us in-the-know are aware, this Conference is a melting pot for multiples from all over the world.
What follows is a riveting, entertaining, informative, insightful and educational journey which is MUST read not only for multiples themselves, but also for the parents who love them.  Pogrebin presents the many nuances of being a multiple, some complicated, some simple, how multiples are “entangled” and how both parties will usually attempt to seek individuality within their multipleship and when (e.g. marriage).  And some can’t see themselves apart, even for a moment.  In addition, she explores the unique circumstances around when one dies and what that event can mean for the survivor.

I could not put this book down, really.  For anyone involved with multiples in any form, this book is definitely the crème de la crème!

Blender Baby Food, Nicole Young and Nadine Day, 2005, Robert Rose Inc., 189 Pages, $19.95 Cdn., $18.95 US, softcover

For parents wishing to make their own baby foods or wishing to have some fun choices to offer toddlers, this book is a must have! It is broken down from when babies need to begin solid foods through 12 months and older and includes suggested meal plans for each age. There are 125 delicious recipes included for babies beginning solids, with hints and tips in the margins on how to “upgrade” each recipe for older children.

The authors begin with steps on how to recognize when your babies are ready to begin solids, address food consistency at each age and stage, answer safety with food issues (such as with eggs), choking hazards, storing, freezing and thawing prepared foods and offer a list of the equipment you can expect to use when preparing your own baby food. There is even a section covering salt, sugars and The Picky Eater. It couldn’t be easier.
Another great point – it’s a Canadian book!

The no-cry potty training solution: gentle ways to help your child say good-bye to diapers, Elizabeth Pantley, McGraw Hill, 2007, 174 pages, softcover, $12.95 US, $16.95 Cdn.

Here are two goals which can bring joy to a parent’s heart: “sleeping through the night” and “toilet trained.” For the latter, Elizbeth Pantley has scored again with her newest book on potty training. It isn’t unheard of for parents to find themselves in unpleasant, close enocunters of the potty-training kind when trying to train their toddlers. It doesn’t have to be so and Pantley gives us suggestions, not the least of which is to recognize the signs of each child’s readiness to be trained. If they are not physically ready and able, training can quickly move to a battle of wills, with no winners insight.

Right at the beginning, Pantley sets out a Readiness Quizz so that we know what signs of readiness to look for in our children. She addresses topics such as keeping it natural, making it a game, getting to the bathroom quickly (kids tend to leave it to the last second and when they say they “need to go,” time is of the essence), bathroom safety, how to teach your child to wipe properly and wash their hands afterwards.

There is a chapter on bed-wetting which is extremely helpful. Bed-wetting is more common with boys and during the night, the kidneys may not be sending appropriate messages to the brain to signal the need to go and/or the bladder is not fully developed enough to go through the night. Bed-wetting can sporadically last for years, or not. She provides constructive ways to handle bed-wetting and to help keep your child dry, without them losing their self-esteem in the process. Pantley even includes some suggestions for toilet training children with special needs.

While her book focuses on training singleton toddlers, there reference about training twins and more. She gives us notice that our children may not be ready to train at the same time – and haven’t we heard that before in other contexts! – and reminds us not to compare them regarding successes and failures – yet another common theme for parents with multiples. Each child having their own potty ensures that when the time is right, there will be no waiting in line for a turn and perhaps subsequent accidents.

While toilet training is long-past with my own children, I really appreciated Pantley’s easy writing style, identifying the challenges and offering suggestions, and positive approach to a topic which can be a challenge for parents as well as toddlers. She takes the pain out of it all for everyone and if your children are nearly ready to toilet train, this is one book you don’t want to miss reading.

Your Premature Baby: the first five years, by Nikki Bradford, 2003, Firefly Books, 208 pages, $19.95

An excellent Canadian book offering detailed information regarding your premature baby. Why does premature birth happen?; What can you do?; how a premature baby may behave (looking at the body language of a premature baby), how the hospital can help, bringing them home, and feeding a premature baby are some of the topics covered in detail. The photographs of these special babies are simply fabulous. This book would be a great resource for those with a premature baby.

Expecting, twins, triplets, and more: a doctor’s guide to a healthy and happy multiple pregnancy, by Rachel Franklin, M.D., M.O.M.* (*Mother of Multiples), 2005, St. Martin’s Griffin, N.Y., 221 pages, $14.95 U.S.; $21.95 Canadian, ISBN 0-312-32823-0

Read my full review of this book

Dr. Franklin has a light-hearted, easy to understand writing style, generously laced with humour. Her book takes you through each stage of the pregnancy. She includes Chapters on learning the news “…and What To Do About It”, she addresses issues you might expect to face in each trimester of your pregnancy, focusing on nutrition, exercise, and preparing for the babies. .

Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding Twins, Triplets or More by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada from La Leche League

Covers every possible breastfeeding topic, with good photos and is very encouraging to breastfeeding mothers. Lots of other topics of interest to multiple birth parents.

Raising Multiple Birth Children – A Parent’s Survival Guide, by William and Sheila Laut, 1999

I haven’t yet read this book by parents of triplets but it has come highly recommended to me. Includes practical tips for getting organized, baby gear you will need, coping with sleep deprivation (I like it already!), gift ideas, funny stories (we can always use those) and more!

When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads by Dr. Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein, 1999, Harper Perennial

Twins From Conception to Five Years by Averil Clegg and Anne Woolett, 1983, First Ballantine Books

Multiple Blessings by Betty Rothbart, 1994, Hearst Books

The Art of Parenting Twins by Patricia Maxwell Malmstrom and Janet Poland, 1999, Ballantine Books

Finding our Way: life with triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets, Web Com Canada 2001

Double Duty, by Christina Baglivi Tinglof, 1998, Contemporary Books

The Joy of Twins and other multiple births by Pamela Patrick Novotny, 1994, Crown Trade Paperbacks

Twins: Pregnancy, Birth and the First Year of Life by Connie L. Agnew, Alan H. Klein and Jill Alison Ganon, 1997, Harper Perennial

Twins, Triplets and More, by Elizabeth M. Bryan, St. Martin’s Press, N.Y.

New Father Book by Wade F. Horn and Jeffrey Rosenberg, 1998, Better Homes and Gardens Books

Feeding Your Baby the Healthiest Foods by Louise Lambert-Lagace, 2000, Stoddart Publishing

The No-Cry Discipline Solution, Elizabeth Pantley, due for release: June, 2007, McGraw Hill, softcover, 235 pages, Expected price $16.95US

Elizabeth Pantley has, thankfully, added another book to her “No-Cry” series. This latest one offers discipline solutions for toddlers and children, aged 2 to 8 years. All types of potentially difficult situatons are covered such as bedtimes, tantrums, not brushing teeth, hitting, bitting, meal times, inappropriate language use and more. She covers not only what the child might be feeling but also the parent’s feelings. A very helpful section looks at anger, what it means, possible triggers and how our own anger can affect the situation and sometimes make things worse. Pantley offers useful suggestions on keeping one’s own emotions in check, turning the situation around with distracting methods (make a song out of what you want done, use humour) and offers appropriate consequences when or if necessary.

My favorite section has to be Part 4: Specific Solutions for Everyday Problems.

When my girls were small (twins and a singleton 22 months their elder), I just didn’t have time to read psycyologically-based, drawn-out solutions for situations which generally had one child, one adult and the general message “follow this advice and all will be well.” Yeah right! Not in my house where the parents were outnumbered by little ones feeding off of each other’s behaviour. I needed quick, helpful, supportive feedback with several possible suggestions to consider in turning things around. Flying by the seat of your pants and/or “learning as you go” doesn’t always equal good parenting skills.

Pantley clearly and concisely states a situation, for example Sibling Fights. Each begins with a story from a frustrated parent. Pantley asks us to Think About It (in this case Sibling Fights) and addresses what such fights can mean for the child. She then offers step by step ideas on What to Do and, perhaps more importantly,What Not to Do. Pantley cross-references to other areas of the book for additional suggestions. In this case, Biting Other Children; Bossiness, Hitting, Kicking and Hair Pulling; Playtime Behaviour. Most topics are covered in two pages, making it quick and simple to grab the book (topics are alphabetically listed), peruse the appropriate area, absorb some techniques and get back to the home situation, all in a timely fashion. That’s my kinda guide!

If you have kids aged 2-8 years, this book is a must have. I hope that Pantley will soon add a “No-Cry Discipline” focused on preteens and teens.

NOTE: Don’t just limit yourself to books on multiples. There are some wonderful books on babies out there and here are a few examples:

  • What to Expect When you are Expecting
  • Dr. Spock’s Book – describes childhood diseases and incubation periods
  • The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, by Ann Douglas – an all-Canadian guide
  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, by Tracy Hogg with Melinda Blau

DVD Reviews

Fascinating DVD regarding conception and gestational journey of Twins, Triplets and Quads. A must view for parents, grandparents, researchers, healthcare professionals and any one else with an interest in multiples.

Check it out at:

Your Babies’ Journey: Twins, Triplets, Quads, approx. 100 minutes

This amazing DVD out of the UK will no doubt be very well received not only by parents (and grandparents) expecting multiples but also by the healthcare professionals who look after them. The photography, graphics and sonagrams lets the viewer into the womb to watch the babies’ growth, development and interactions. It’s breathtaking and I was glued to the screen throughout. I found myself jettisoned back to my own pregnancy and was thrilled to observe what our girls were doing prior to their delivery. This fascintating documentary is an important and enlightened resource for anyone with an interest in multiple-births.

If I were to comment on anything, two little things stood out: l) Society often refers to vaginal birth as “natural birth.” Does that make a necessary c-section an “unnatural birth?” I think not. A “natural birth” is, in truth, any birth that ensures a healthy Mom and baby(ies), and that includes a c-section. Many families whom need to have a c-section feel guilty about having to do so and by changing our vernacular, we could make a positive difference. And 2) I would have liked to have heard more direct references to the fathers and their roles. Two parents are ideal in any parenting situation and this is partiacularly true in the case of multiples. Dad, an important part of the parenting equation, is almost completely absent from this otherwise stunning DVD.

Someday he will learn that he has two angels, Alexander and Cameron

I had my first ultrasound at 15 weeks. To my complete surprise I found out I was having triplets. I was in shock, I was actually going to have three boys. At 18 weeks, I found out that I had TTTS. Babies A and C were the ones affected but baby B was progressing normally. I was then faced with the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I could opt for a surgery that would eliminate baby A which may or may not help baby C, but would put me at great risk for pre term labor. Even if I could save one of the affected babies, there was a strong possibility of heart and brain defects due to the TTTS. My biggest concern had to be for baby B. He needed to have time for his lungs to develop. For him, I needed to make it to 30 weeks.

I had numerous therapeutic amnios to remove the excess fluid that continued to build. I had been told that babies A and C probably would not make it, but I still held out hope. I found out at 26 weeks that baby A’s heart had stopped. It wasn’t a complete shock, but devastating nonetheless. The only thing that was keeping me going was the desire to hold it together for baby B. And it worked. At 30 weeks I went into labor.

Baby C was too small and his organs never had the chance to fully develop. He died shortly after birth. But by the grace of God Baby B had fought his way into the world. He had to stay in the NICU for 2 months, but he is doing great. His name is Riley. He is 3 years old now and aside from being on the small side, he is absolutely perfect.

Someday he will learn that he has two angels, Alexander and Cameron, that are watching over their brother and keeping him safe. It was very difficult to receive congratulatory and condolence cards at the same time. Mourning the loss of what might have been had to take a back seat to what could be. I promised myself that I would stay focused on what I was blessed with instead of what was taken from me. I firmly believe that Riley made it to this earth for a reason. Someone has plans for him and I am going to do my best to make sure that they are realized.

I know in my heart that Alexander and Cameron are being well taken care of until I can be with them. I visit their grave every week and tell them how much I love them. But I have to be thankful for being able show Riley how much I love him everyday.

Christine, St. Clair Shores, MI

A lot of pain mixed in with far too little joy…

Dee and I are two of the luckiest people we know… great jobs, surrounded by a wonderful family, great friends and absolutely emphatically in love with one another after 5 years of marriage … however, there is still one thing that continues to elude us… to have our own family. We tried having a family the old fashioned way and after 4 miscarriages, relied on a little help from the medical profession… as a result of Gonal-F, progesterone, heparin and a little good luck we were elated to see 3 fast beating hearts at 8 weeks… we were very excited…

We would be able to have our whole family at one time and be able to be part of a wonderful club of multiple birth parents… most importantly we thought that this would allow us to put a lot of our pain behind us and never have to go down that scary road again…

At 16 weeks, our excitement grew even larger when we found out we would be blessed with two boys and a girl… we felt that if this would be our family it would be great to parent at lease one child from either sex…. During the course of the pregnancy Dee had been lucky enough to become connected with a local group of triplet moms… they took her under their wing and helped to prepare her mentally for what was to come… Dee had done everything she could for out children… she gave up a great deal, all without complaining, always knowing and looking forward to her final goal… various books had told her to take on a significant number of additional calories and so she ate when she couldn’t eat any more… sometimes getting out of bed at night just to eat a granola bar and glass of milk…

On September 16th, Dee began to feel a mild and unusual pressure that was new… thanks to the warnings of the other triplet moms, Dee knew that it was best to contact the doctor… he instructed her to go to the hospital where they then hooked her up to a contraction monitor… upon seeing that she was having some contractions they began to do all the things they could to get them to stop… magnesium sulfate, antibiotics, everything… after 48 hours her contractions had appeared to have slowed and they backed off on the mag drip….

On Friday morning Dee’s water unexpectedly broke… she had dilated to 10 centimeters and there was no going back… at that point, 21 weeks, there was nothing that she or I or any of the doctors could do… our triplets would not remain in the womb… Declan, Noelle and Wyatt were born in the early afternoon of Friday… this was, without a doubt, the most horrible thing that has ever happened in either one of our lives… our children were just too small… their lungs were not developed… they could not breath… they tried… they tried so very hard… my wife and I held and cried and talked to and soothed and touched and loved our children from the very moment that they came into this world until they passed into the next…

Wyatt, the smallest of the three, held out the longest… even when he was in utero we knew that he’d be a scrapper!!! I don’t know what we would have done without the help of our nurse Fran… she shepherded us through this difficult day… she encouraged us to hold, to talk, to bath, and to cloth our babies… she gave us the chance to parent our children if only for a little while… we got to hold their little hands, to kiss their little feet, to give them all the love we had… I can’t imagine going through that day without being encouraged or able to parent our children… the grief and pain has, at times, seemed insurmountable but at least when I cry I can still feel their little hands curled around my finger, see my wife kiss their bums… just like she promised she’d do when they came into the world…

There is nothing anyone can say to ever make it easier… our lives, our hopes, the plans full of love and anticipation all evaporated and were replaced with emptiness, loneliness and fear… even as someone who has been there I can’t tell you that it will get better or that time will heal your scars … it still isn’t better for us… it still hurts as bad some times now as it did on that terrible September 19th… but hopefully time will take a little bit of the sting out of the memory and hopefully you were left with positive images that do not fade… and if we get a little lucky and the stories are true, we’ll all be together again someday in a place of love and warmth… and get the chance to hold their little hands again.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Nigel and Dee, Buffalo, New York

Tragic Loss

My name is Elaine and in October 2000 my husband and I went through IVF and conceived triplets (identical twins + singleton). We were thrilled, yet cautious because I knew the risk went up significantly with multiples. I was very very ill with OHSS* and in hospital for one month with blood clots in my lungs.

I eventually recovered from the OHSS and things seemed to be going along okay when, on February 20, 2001, one of the waters broke and I discovered that I was in labor (no real symptoms other than back ache which I was told was probably going to be normal for me during this pregnancy). Unfortunately, all three of our precious boys were born that day and lived for just a few hours each. We did not see or hold them because we just had no idea what to do and no one really came to talk to us and tell us how important this would be to us or gave us some idea of what our boys looked like. Fortunately, the NICU nurse took pictures, footprints and handprints, and kept their wristbands, etc. so we do have these precious momentos.

In the past year and a half I have done a lot of reading and research on tragic loss, grief, and perinatal bereavement and wish there were some way I could get more involved in helping people in this situation and educating the public. I am doing some volunteer work right now with planning a Walk To Remember to be held in October and I am part of the Parent-to-Parent Support Group in my hometown.

My beautiful boys have taught me so much. Thank you for listening.

Yours truly,

Elaine, Mommy to Rem, Declan and Dawson (b/d Feb 20, 2001 at 21 weeks)

* OHSS is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can occur with IVF. It is caused by the hyperstimulation of the ovaries through medication. When the eggs are harvested the fluid in each follicle leaks into the abdomen (this happens naturally during ovulation). Because of the number of follicles produced, a significant amount of fluid results. When severe, it can cause the body to dehydrate and the blood to thicken. This is why I developed blood clots that went into my lungs (pulmonary emboli).

Elaine has created a website for her sons at:


The birth of my triplets, and the subsequent loss of one of my three sons occurred in 1998. In my mind, it seems like only yesterday. I gave birth extremely prematurely at 24 weeks gestation shortly after my water broke. My first of three sons was born on April 26th, 1998 at 9:00pm, and he needed to be resuscitated following delivery. I held on to my other two sons for one more day, but then labour started.

I went in for an emergency C-section (because of their positioning) on April 28th, 1998 at 2:30pm. My second two sons had to be ventilated immediately after birth and they were taken to NICU.

Our first son survived for three weeks. He encountered almost every complication related to prematurity it seemed. He fought hard and endured as long as he could. After three difficult weeks, our first baby boy died peacefully in his father’s arms. I still remember that day. It sunk in that we no longer had three sons. Our other sons survived the crucial weeks ahead and we took them home 102 days later.

Thank you for reading my story about my three sons.

Carole, Calgary, Alberta