Breastfeeding twins. The basics. The myths.

One of the first things many parents think when they find out they are having twins is that they are going to have to formula feed. But that just isn’t the case. In fact, simply from a financial stand point isn’t that counter intuitive?  We have a lot of false information flying at us, fueled by the fear we can’t do it. But we can. And guess what? A lot of false info we can get is going to come from the people who know breast feeding the most. Our lactation consultants.

Here are some of the perks:

  • you get to have extra deserts or food and still lose weight
  • Aunt flow is still on vacation!
  • It’s significantly more relaxing than trying to make a few bottles
  • money money money
  • Seriously, extra ice cream
  • reduced risk of breast cancer
  • immune and allergy benefits for baby

Lets talk about the fear and misinformation that you won’t make enough;

The idea of making enough for two sounds daunting. And according my lactation consultant it isn’t possible. Maybe you will live some where with LC’s trained better in twin feeding. But if you don’t you need to know your own facts. Mind you, they will absolutely have some great advice, and I am not discouraging seeking help from an LC at all!  They absolutely have some great ideas. But some bad advice too. Now I had read that I would need some thing like 4.000 calories a day. I asked the LC at the hospital about it. She said, “Oh no, that’s wrong, you only need between 200-500 calories. You don’t need any extra calories. It’s not like you are going to make any more milk than a mom feeding one baby.”  So I guess my twins are both growing by sharing the same milk as one baby!  I had some issues that came from the NICU forcing me to supplement so I was trying to get over those. I sought help from an LC and she was just so sweet. So enthusiastic. And she obviously kept forgetting how much I was supposed to be making. Not a huge issue, but had I listened and gotten comfortable in her enthusiasm I wouldn’t have been able to stop supplementing.

 

So here are some basic facts:

babies age 1-6 months take in an average of 25 oz a day, any baby will take between 19 and 30 oz though..  Exclusively breast fed babies will take 3 oz each feeding from 1-6 months. Because they seem to take the same amount for so long is why breast fed babies will typically gain more weight at the start.  Formula fed babies ingest a lot more milk. by one month they have ingested 49% percent more milk in their life, and by three months 71% and more isn’t better. I add this info because lets face it, we are always comparing ourselves and our kids, even when we try not to.  Because I knew formula fed babies take so much more I really really pushed with not over filling my babies tummies so they would be happy with the breast milk volume. This is likely an issue that you will need to tackle if the babies have any NICU time.

 

Calories:  A mother breastfeeding one baby is told to have an extra 200-500 cal. Not a massive gap. But lets double it, thats 400-1000, that a lot of leeway there. We went from one bowl of ice cream to three.   So an oz of breast milk has 20 calories. The full 500 cal allowed covers the 25 oz. So you need close to an extra 1000 a day. Notice though, they do always suggest 200 as an option. That’t because when you are pregnant your body makes fat stores, or like me, if you just need to lose a few pounds. It’s totally healthy and will not deplete your supply as long as you are getting between 400-1000 extra a day. If you stay closer to the 400 you will lose weight!

You will be making 1.47 liters of milk a day! You NEED to drink four times more water than what you put out. For many women this is probably the hardest part of breast feeding twins. You need to drink about 5 liters of water a day. Have trouble drinking water? Cut out any other liquid in your diet and use some MIO flavors!

 

The fear that mom will be doing all the work and that makes it harder!

Lets look at two situations: being home alone with the babies. The babies are asleep. They wake up they are hungry.  What sounds easier? The babies are crying, hurry go stand in the kitchen for five minutes and make bottle and then get them. Or just get them and stick them on you.  It’s honestly easier. And with two babies your partner won’t be left out at all. There is plenty for him to do when you are both there, and it’s easier when you are alone.  How about night? Side lying breast feeding is very common. Dad getting the baby is a great way for dad to help out. Again, this is a lot easier to do instead of getting up to make bottles. Though there are ways to do bottles effectively for twins and i will cover that later!  My husband farms and I breast feed the girls and I can tell you thanks to breast feeding we all sleep well and I don’t have it too hard while he is gone. Right now the girls are sleeping in the nursing pillow and I am typing this!

The one thing I can say, is that I feel more rested nursing. I think the biggest difference with tandem nursing is that you may not be able to pump while you are at home with the babies on you all the time. I’m four months out and I have about ten oz stored in the freezer.

 

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