Being a first-time parent to twins is an extraordinary experience. I never run out of baby cuteness because I’ve got four chunky thighs to pinch, four cherub cheeks to kiss, and four little dimpled hands to hold. If that isn’t enough watching them comfort each other by holding hands is enough to make my heart explode with endearment. I’m not saying that some things are not tough about having twins such as when they both want to be held at the same time, but the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. But there are difficulties.
Some of the difficulties could be better mediated if a few things were different. For one, there could be better more comprehensive truthful information about twins. Some books say to breast feed each twin on its own breast always, others suggest feeding them one-at-a-time, both, of which, are really bad ideas. Here’s why: for one, usually one twin is bigger, better fed in the womb resulting in a stronger sucker. Even if neither twin spends a day in NICU, it is likely that one twin will have some advantage over the other in terms of survival. It is just how things are divided up. So, if you give one twin its own breast and it is a better sucker than the other twin, that breast will be more stimulated to produce milk than the other breast with the twin who doesn’t suck as well. There are several things wrong with that not to mention the lopsided breast job you will be giving yourself.
If one twin can’t suck enough to stimulate enough milk production to feed itself then you will definitely end up supplementing with formula, if breast feeding at all, in the end. This would be a tragedy because tandem breast feeding is the way to go with twins. More on that later. Anyway, you must alternate breasts so that the little twin gets up to speed and can become a breast stimulating sucker thus contributing to the total milk supply for both twins. Pumping, helps, of course, but it is best to only pump if a breast misses a regular feeding otherwise your milk will be too low-fat. Don’t forget you are feeding TWINS for crying out loud! Your body is producing twice as much milk as a single baby mama’s, which means you need more food, water, sleep, and oatmeal! Oatmeal is the secret ingredient to a good milk supply, also more on that later.
As I’m writing I realize that I am a wealth of information about all things twins related. So, I’m going with the flow here and am going to continue this theme of offering information on twins. Since information on twins is lacking maybe my post can help someone out.
Now, more about tandem feeding. Some books advocate for feeding twins one-at-a-time and I am totally against that. Even if you decide not to breast feed do get the Breast-Friends for Twins pillow anyway. This way you can put each twin on the pillow and bottle feed them at the same time while making eye contact and holding them. This way they get all the nurturing a bottle fed baby can get and you can be in an ergonomic position. My husband does this every night during the dream feed. If you are breast feeding, then you also need this pillow because there is nothing else out there to allow you to breast feed two babies at once. Why is it so important to feed two babies at once? Because when you take your babies out on the town and people sneer “Teeewwiins!” with their eyebrows raised and then follow it up with “I’ll bet that is difficult!” you can respond bright eyed and willfully with, “actually it isn’t! These are really great babies.” and be telling your honest truth.
Feeding two babies at once allows you to have more time in the day. It also creates stress-free feedings while giving each twin the nurturing they deserve, which is equal nurturing. If you feed one baby at a time, you will more often than not have one baby crying in the background waiting to be fed. This is miserable on everyone including the poor baby feeding. Feeding two babies one at a time takes so much time in the beginning that I truly feel sorry for any woman who goes by this advice. Infants will feed 45 minutes to an hour every 2 hours. You do the math. This means that you will just finish feeding the second twin and barely have time to go to the bathroom and refill your water bottle before starting another feeding on the first twin. Forget about eating, sleeping or anything other than sitting and breastfeeding on that schedule! Not to mention the poor twin who is always first never gets a solid comforting meal because you will always be put on edge by the other crying twin. Even more, the poor twin who must always cry for its food because it is stuck second in the rotation is certainly not the winner here either! This is why feeding tandem is the way to go with twins. It gives them all the advantages of single babies and gives you some time to take care of yourself.
One more reason to tandem feed twins is the tandem effect on the breast milk supply is greater. The prolactin stimulation is greater when both breasts are stimulated at once which translates to more milk supply for your growing babies. You need an abundant milk supply if you plan to nurse twins. Also, if one baby is a better sucker, the other baby, who doesn’t suck as well, benefits from being on the other breast simultaneously because milk will literally drip into its mouth. If it sucks even a little it will be rewarded, which in turn, helps to teach the baby that sucking is good, eventually leading to developing better sucking habits. Tandem breast feeding is a win-win!
Last but not least I’ll tell you about the oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal is a must for nursing moms. Also, Weleda Nursing Tea, which contains an ingredient that is similar to oatmeal really works. I had the ingredient label translated from German, so forgive me for not being more specific about what that herb is called. Nonetheless, the two together work wonders on breastmilk supply. But nothing will work if you don’t get enough food and water. After four months of having a perfect supply everyday all day, I got sick ONE DAY and could not keep down food or water. My milk supply dwindled drastically, immediately. Besides rehydrating, I also ate oatmeal and drank this tea to get back up to speed ASAP. I was amazed to feel the tea working in my body.
One more thing I’d like to mention here that nobody seems to talk about is cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is when your twin or twins, depending upon whether they cluster at the same time or on a different schedule, feed closer together. The purpose of a cluster feed is to create a higher demand on your milk supply so that your supply will meet the demand. So, when you are cluster feeding you actually do not have the milk supply the baby needs. This means that they are unsatisfied by what you can give them. I think a lot of women freak out and stop breast feeding when this happens. But if you hang in there, then the next day or so you will have the supply to meet the demand. Cluster feeding only lasts for 3 days or less. It is important to let the baby cluster feed though. So, I’d say that cluster feeding is one of the hardest tasks to deal with when breastfeeding an infant. Once your milk supply is established to a maximum you no longer cluster feed.
I’m going to bed now because I have to wake up at 6 am for a feeding, which is great because my twins have been sleeping since 10pm when we finished their dream feeding. So, next time I’ll talk a bit about how we got our two precious babies to sleep 8 hours straight starting at 3 months.