Hoping to breastfeed your twins? 6 twin moms share their top tips for success

Parents At Home Cuddling Twin Baby Daughters In Nursery
Parents At Home Cuddling Twin Baby Daughters In Nursery

One of the biggest challenges that all new moms face is often breastfeeding, and the thought of breastfeeding two babies at once can be overwhelming. 

To help put your mind at ease, we spoke to twin moms who have mastered this amazing feat and successfully breastfed their twins, and they shared their insights and advice with us.

1. A strict schedule

Mary Quinn, a sustainable energy engineer, swears by a strict schedule of feeding every 3 to 4 hours to help make feeding as straightforward as possible. 

She says she tandem fed from as early as possible and had help with positioning from her husband. “I used a lot of pillows to get into position,” she says, “and the double football hold worked well for me.”

She tells how she had help from a lactation consultant, and that weighing the babies to know they were feeding well provided her with much reassurance. 

Mary successfully breastfed her twins for 15 months. “Your body is miraculous,” she says, “and steps up in ways you can’t imagine.”

How did you manage breastfeeding your twins? Any top pointers you think would make a massive difference for new moms? Share your breastfeeding advice by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your tips. If you'd like to stay anonymous do let us know. 

2. Breastfeeding pillows designed for twins

Elena Bartzen is a stay-at-home mum of three. “I breastfed all of them for 2 years each. I fed on demand, which included a lot of waking up a night. But, since we co-slept, I just rolled over and fed whenever needed. I usually fell back asleep before they finished eating! We never had a routine, but the twins usually ended up feeding at the same time, and it was easier for me to feed both at once anyway.” 

“I tried pumping a bit but found it tiring and stressful. For this reason, it took some time for them to take to the bottle once they were weaned. As they were already 2 years old, a bottle wasn't really necessary, but I pushed it so they would have a comforting routine at bedtime.” 

Elena says that for her, the biggest help with breastfeeding twins was the feeding pillow called My Brest Friend (Twin Version). “It's not sold in SA as far as I know, but there are quite a few circulating around among the twin mommies. I bought mine second hand here. The pillow is amazing because it allows you to tandem feed hands-free – it's a flat pillow with a bit of a lip, so babas stay put without you having to hold them. This was amazing as I could feed them and still do other things, like drink my tea or use my phone.”  

She says the other advantage of breastfeeding for was not having to pack, make, and clean double the bottles. “I could quickly and easily feed the girls whenever and wherever they needed. The only hard part was feeding in public. I'm not shy at all about breastfeeding in public, but it's quite a spectacle to tandem feed twins in front of people. I would either find somewhere private to go, or try to feed one at a time – I just had to make sure the other one didn't see as they got very demanding then!” 

3. Nipple shields were a life saver

Celeste Rushby, parenting coach and occupational therapist at Munchkins, tells us how her twins were born at 30 weeks. “Their mouths were super tiny and trying to get them latched individually was hard enough; trying to get them latched simultaneously just didn’t seem possible.” 

Celeste says she was helped by a NICU nurse who suggested she use Pigeon nipple shields. “That was my absolute saving grace. I was able to pop them both on simultaneously with an automatic correct latch and no issues. It definitely also helped to use a proper twin breastfeeding cushion. My sister imported a Double Blessings twin breastfeeding cushion for me. It was a godsend!”  

When the twins were 4 months old, Celeste’s boy twin started developing silent reflux. “I opted to express and bottle feed while I treated his reflux, but when I tried to latch them 2 weeks later, they both flat-out rejected the breast.”

After a struggle, she says she opted to express up until their first birthday. “I didn’t realise that expressing is nowhere near as good at stimulating milk production as direct breastfeeding is. So, I went from having so much milk that I could express all they needed in 7 minutes flat, to barely having enough for 1 bottle a day despite expressing 3 times a day as we headed closer to their 1st birthday. I wish I hadn’t switched to expressing.” 

4. Maximising milk supply  

Karin Kuhlmann, an HR Manager for an Italian renewable energy company, tells us how her twins were born at 36 weeks. “Their sucking reflex had not fully developed, so they spent 10 days in the neonatal unit and came home only once they could feed on their own for 24 hours.”

Of course, the milk demand for two babies is very high, she says, so she started expressing from day one. “Even though it was a lot of work, it increased my milk dramatically. Even after I breastfed, I would still express afterwards to empty my breasts properly.” 

“My girls were on a strict four-hourly feeding schedule, and we introduced the bottle early so my husband could help with feeding. I generally breastfed (with my amazing twin pillow and help from my hubby) two to three times per day and bottle fed the other feeds.” 

Karin expressed 6 times per day for the first 4 months and says she drank a LOT of jungle juice. “Fortunately, my milk increased to 1,5 litres per day but it was still stressful as my girls were drinking 1,8 litres per day.” After exhausting her freezer stash she introduced 1 formula bottle at 3.5 months. “It was such a relief and even though I struggled with the decision, I was so happy once I had made it. 

“It’s amazing how the body adapts. When it comes to milk production, I really found that the best tips were getting sleep (I managed with the help of my incredible hubby who is very hands-on), keeping super-hydrated (I drank about 3 litres a day and didn't have any alcohol as I was nervous of becoming dehydrated), eating properly and trying not to stress about it (which is difficult if you are feeding two babies).”

Karin says she wasn't as attached to breastfeeding as perhaps a lot of mothers are, maybe because she was feeding two babies at once. “I found the breastmilk was more important for me rather than the breastfeeding. I am very happy that I did it, however, and definitely felt bonded to my babies, but also didn't miss giving it up.” 

5. Helping hands are invaluable

Jenni-Kate Warwick, who successfully breastfed her twins for 4.5 years, shared that having an army of help is what helped her to succeed. “I had a doula who was also a kangaroula and would visit us at home for the first few days. She was able to assist with latching and when it became clear that the latching issues were fairly serious, we got a lactation consultant to come.”

Jenni-Kate says that ‘lactation consultant’ is sadly not a protected term and she received shocking advice from someone who was a wonderful person and called themselves a lactation consultant but was not formally trained. “Had I listened to her, I would never have managed to breastfeed. We then got an IBCLC-accredited consultant and she was so empowering and helpful. So the person must be internationally or South African accredited.

"I also had a physio who did laser which really helped the sore nips. There is so much more but this is a good starting point.” 

6. It really does get easier

Kate Deetlefs, Trade Compliance Analyst for Coronation Fund Managers, tells us how her twin girls are 4 months old. “I'm still quite fresh in the breastfeeding journey, but it is going so well and getting easier by the day. So that is my first bit of insight to offer – it gets so much easier!” 

“Something that I wish I had known and didn’t think about before was how my babies would be fed if they came early, which they did,” she says. “My girls came 6 weeks early and were rushed off to NICU a few minutes after their birth, with no skin-to-skin contact or opportunity to immediately latch them.”

Kate shares how she struggled to get colostrum for them. “I found hand-expressing agonising, almost more painful than my Caesar. I did my best and called for assistance from the hospital staff but I personally felt that I was given less urgent care and guidance in this regard as they were more concerned about the moms whose babies were actually with them.”

“I have since found out there is a disposable Medela attachment which aids the removal of colostrum via the pump. It’s a pity I was not aware of that at the time. While I was able to get them some colostrum, I feel I could definitely have got more, which is a sad thought for me,” Kate told us.  

Kate’s last bit of advice would be to invest in a good feeding pillow. “I got mine second hand via a local twin breastfeeding support group, and it’s been an absolute lifesaver. It has helped me to tandem feed my girls, which is a big time saver! It was trickier initially when my girls still needed lots of neck support.”

Now that they are older Kate says she can tandem feed them completely on her own. “They are now champion feeders and getting so nice and chunky! I have such a sense of accomplishment from being able to feed them both. I will always remember one of the first things I thought when I found out I was having twins was, "I will never be able to breastfeed." I am so pleased to have proved myself wrong! It is something I have been quite determined to do – I always say you have to really want to breastfeed – and I have had lots of support from my husband and family.” 

If you need professional local assistance, reach out to La Leche League via www.llli.org or the South African Multiple Birth Association (SAMBA) via www.samultiplebirth.co.za if you need further assistance. 

How did you manage breastfeeding your twins? Any top pointers you think would make a massive difference for new moms? Share your breastfeeding advice by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish your tips. If you'd like to stay anonymous do let us know. 

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