breastfeeding twins

Expert tips for breastfeeding twins

Midwife and breastfeeding consultant Clare Boyle has some helpful hints and tips for breastfeeding twins.

When a woman is expecting twins, she soon realises that although it is wonderfully exciting to be having two babies at once, it also comes with special challenges and breastfeeding is definitely one of those challenges. It is important to know first off that breastfeeding twins is totally possible and do-able – it is a bit more complicated and more work than feeding one baby, but the emotional and health benefits of breastfeeding are huge and once breastfeeding is established it becomes very easy and a huge time saver.

In order to give you the best start possible, I have put together some helpful tips for breastfeeding your twins.

Tips for breastfeeding twins

Plan ahead

1. Take a preparing for breastfeeding class. Understanding how breastfeeding works, how often babies need to be fed, how long the feeds will last, how to get a good latch are all essential to getting breastfeeding underway. Your partner needs to attend the class as well as he is going to be an integral part of helping you with breastfeeding.

2. Take good care of yourself during the pregnancy to ensure that you will get as close to 38-weeks gestation as you can. The more mature the babies are and the bigger they are the easier they are to breastfeed so make sure that you eat a well-balanced diet and get lots of rest.

3. Organise to have help available after you come home from the hospital for the first few weeks. This help can be in the form of family members who can help with the babies or paid help to come in and do basic housework and cooking or both. If it takes two adults to care for and feed one new baby then it takes three adults to care for and feed two new babies! The more help available the easier it is for mum to just focus on breastfeeding and getting rest.

4. Accept that breastfeeding your babies is a full-time job for the first six to eight weeks. There is no doubt that it is a very important job that will take up almost all your time. If you accept this fact then you can just get on with doing it knowing that the rewards for this time commitment will pay handsomely around two months when breastfeeding becomes really easy.

Strategies to breastfeed twins

1. Normal breastfeeding. It is essential to understand the normal breastfeeding pattern for a breastfed baby in order to ensure successful breastfeeding. Breastfed babies need to be fed very frequently in the first eight weeks. On average, a baby will need to be fed at least eight to 10 times in a twenty-four hour period and a feed can last from ten minutes to up to 40 minutes. Also every baby has their own feeding pattern (there is no schedule or routine) and no two babies feed exactly the same. Multiply this by two and you have a LOT of breastfeeding to do, which can seem quite chaotic at times!

2. It is important to do all this breastfeeding to ensure firstly that the babies are getting enough milk but also to let your body know that it needs to make enough milk for twins. The more you feed the more milk your body will make. Most women can easily make enough milk for twins.

3. For the first few feeds after the birth just feed the babies one at a time so that you can get used to breastfeeding and also have a bit of one-on-one time with each baby. Eventually though, most women want to feed the babies together, some will start this in the hospital and others will wait until they get home to start doing it.

4. Feeding the babies at the same time is called tandem feeding and it can make a big difference because it is a huge time saver. Using a twin breastfeeding cushion will give you enough room to be able to feed the two babies at once. Often mothers will use the football hold, with each baby tucked under her arm and latched onto the breast when they are tandem feeding. Tandem feeding will take time to master and you will need help initially with latching but eventually most women manage to do it themselves when the babies are a bit older.

5. You may need to wake one of the babies up in order to tandem feed. Don’t worry about this as eventually the babies’ feeding patterns will start to coincide with each other and they will wake up at the same time to be fed.

6. Remember that all the hard work will pay off around eight weeks. At this time, a feeding pattern will emerge. The babies will probably be waking at the same time to feed, you will be able to latch them together yourself and breastfeeding just gets easier and easier and becomes a pure pleasure and joy to do!

More you might like:

Breastfeeding rates in Ireland
Breastfeeding advice for newborns
Breastfeeding and work


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.