Breastfeeding can be one of the most rewarding and best parts of having a child, according to many mothers. However, they will also tell you that breastfeeding can be difficult, trying, and even exhausting. This difficulty increases when you have more than one baby, be it twins or other sets of multiples. You might be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of feeding more than one child and ensuring that both children are being adequately fed. You might be feeling nervous that you will never have time to do anything else but breastfeed, or that you will never get a break from your children. Once you start breastfeeding your babies, you might feel exhausted and concerned. However, with help from this article and from your doctor or lactation specialist, you will find that you can succeed as a breastfeeding mother of multiples.
Common Challenges and Questions
There can be many challenges that arise while breastfeeding multiple children. Below are the most common difficulties you might face and how to fix them. Being prepared and planning ahead will help to ease your anxieties, and help you feel as if you are ready to climb the Breastfeeding Mountain. The most common concerns and solutions are as follows:
Time Concerns: Probably the most common concern and challenge that comes with breastfeeding twins or other multiples is the amount of time it might take. If you are unable to tandem feed (meaning holding them at the same time), breastfeeding can take slightly longer as you will need to feed the babies one at a time. However, with twins, if you can tandem feed, timing can work out in your favor. Try to prop your children up with nursing pillows or rolled towels to keep them in the right position. Be sure to switch sides for each baby with each feeding as well.
Sore Nipples: Many women and expectant mothers are concerned about the prospect of sore nipples in general, and the anxiety is amplified when facing the prospect of nursing multiples. However, there is no need to worry! Sore nipples are most commonly caused by incorrect latching or positioning, not by multiple feedings. If you do end up with sore nipples though, there are several solutions to soothe them. You can mix breastmilk with lanolin and the combination can help to heal the cracks or damage done to the nipples and help restore them back to their soft state.
Getting Away: One of the most important parts of being a breastfeeding mother of multiples is the ability to get away from your responsibilities, even if it is only for a few moments. Be sure to establish a support system while you are still pregnant. Be sure to enlist your significant other to help take over if you are feeling too stressed. You can go for a walk, take a bath, read part of a book, or even just take a short nap. Be sure to surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and be willing to step in and assist you.
Feeding Concerns: Another one of the major concerns and questions that are centered around breastfeeding multiples includes ensuring that you are producing enough milk for all of your babies to receive the nutrition they need to thrive and flourish. You can always ask your doctor or lactation specialist if he or she can check the children’s weight gain to double check that they are growing at the correct rate. They should be gaining roughly an ounce a day. There are several other ways, however, for you to monitor if your babies are receiving proper nutrition from nursing.
-Your babies should be eating every two to three hours, or about eight times a day for the first few weeks after delivery.
-If your breasts feel softer and less firm after nursing, this is a good sign that your children are receiving the milk that they need. Breasts that are still firm still have milk built up in them, which means that not all of it is being expressed during a feeding. This can mean that your child is not able to drink all of the milk it needs.
-Your children should be having roughly three bowel movements a day. In addition, their feces should lighten to a mustard-yellow tone a few days after birth. The mustard color of the bowel movement is a common trait of well-nourished breast-fed babies.
-While not the best tool to use, you can also check the amount of wet diapers your babies are producing throughout the day. A well-nourished and hydrated baby should be producing roughly seven to eight wet diapers a day. However, this is not the best tool to use as even dehydrated babies will still urinate, and some well-hydrated children may not urinate very much.
Milk Supply: What if your milk supply is dwindling but you would still like to continue breastfeeding your multiples? While unfortunately this does happen sometimes, it is normally caused by milk not being expressed as often or as completely as your body wants. This can be ameliorated in part by pumping. Specifically, you should try to pump at night as your prolactin hormones are at their peak. You should also make sure that you are keeping up proper nutrition for yourself, in addition to drinking a lot of water. Breastfeeding can dehydrate the body, which in turn can cause your milk supply to dry up.
Keeping The Babies Contained: If you are not able to tandem feed, or have more than two babies, keeping them contained in one area can be a little difficult. Many mothers of multiples set up a nursing station for them to use. This way they can sit near or on the floor, with the non-feeding babies on blankets around them. This ensures that the other children are not capable of rolling off a couch or other higher surface. You can also create a basket of toys to give the waiting babies, or even stash your iPad to entertain yourself while also keeping your children amused as well.
Breastfeeding multiples is definitely a challenge, but if you are prepared it can be a wonderful experience for both you and your babies. Good luck!