The very thought of having more than one baby can bring in mixed feelings of excitement and joy, not to forget moments of worry. You may wonder how you will manage through the birthing process, your baby’s health and most important, how to manage everything. Accepting and preparing yourself and your family can go a long way to help you cope with the extra pressures.
Feeding multiples, especially breastfeeding, might feel challenging, but with support, many mothers succeed. Though, initially it can be exhausting, but the smiles, hugs and kisses from your babies will make it all worth it.
Preparing for breastfeeding multiples
“Expecting multiples requires careful preparation, especially when it comes to feeding them. Although, it might seem difficult, breastfeeding twins or more is achievable, and the rewards are doubly satisfying. Just like any breastfeeding mother, you need to understand the basics, such as supply and demand, and ensure the correct position and latch for successful breastfeeding,” says Sonia Vaid, Lactation Counsellor, Asian Hospital, Faridabad.
Additionally, it is essential to have skin-to-skin contact with your babies immediately after birth for initiating breastfeeding successfully. Vaid adds, “Even after a C-section, try to breastfeed as soon as possible. The more your babies feed, the more milk you’ll produce, so breastfeeding on demand is crucial to ensure an adequate milk supply.”
Benefits & challenges
The advantages of breastfeeding for both pre-term and full-term infants are well-known, including promoting attachment between mother and baby, providing essential nutrition, building immunity and disease protection, and reducing economic burdens. “When it comes to multiples, these benefits are even more crucial, as they are often born at higher risk. Breastfeeding multiple babies, such as twins or more, comes with both unique challenges and benefits. Breast milk offers significant health benefits, especially for premature babies who are more susceptible to serious health problems like necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis. If your multiples are able to take some expressed breast milk, it provides them with an excellent start,” explains Vaid.
However, feeding multiples presents added challenges, such as time (or lack of it), managing energy levels, and establishing the best feeding pattern. Vaid opines, “To prepare yourself for breastfeeding twins, it is advisable to seek support from an expert on feeding twins, connect with mothers of multiples through local groups for additional support and do not hesitate to ask for help from family and friends before your due date. Remember, you and your babies learn together. Each baby may have different feeding preferences and needs, so individualized care is important. The early weeks might be challenging, but it will become less time-consuming and exhausting with time. Don’t forget to prioritize your own nutrition and well-being, and try to get sufficient rest as and when possible.”
At first, you can choose to feed your babies individually and later shift to tandem (both at a time) breastfeeding for time saving. “Various twin breastfeeding positions, such as the double rugby ball or the laid-back position, can be tried. Seek guidance from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist to find what works best for you and your babies,” feels Vaid.
Remember, not to hesitate to look out for professional and emotional support at any stage of your breastfeeding journey, and try not to be too hard on yourself during tough days.
Breastfeeding multiples requires patience and perseverance, but the benefits for both you and your babies make it all worthwhile.