Twin moms know all too well the meaning of the word tandem…we do everything in tandem, which is why tandem nursing for moms who wish to breastfeed is a skill that must be mastered, but can be quite overwhelming.
Being pregnant with twins means an unusually large belly, which often comes with a battery of questions from the everyday stranger in the grocery story.
When people found out I was carrying twins, the line of questioning often turned invasive and focused on how I planned to feed two babies.
Early on, I received a lot of (unsolicited) discouraging opinions about breastfeeding twins, which honestly fueled my determination to exclusively nurse my babies.
I was acutely aware that feeding, changing diapers and caring for two would be an around-the-clock job, which forced me to begin to think about the logistics of nursing two babies long before they entered this world.
The one piece of advice that really struck home for me was working to get them on the same schedule early, which required waking and feeding them at the same time.
With that, I knew I had to master the skill of tandem nursing my babies to help save me some time and a little of my sanity. Let me be the first to say, I struggled a lot and learned a lot at the same time. My hope here is to share a few tips and tricks with new moms who may be nervous and overwhelmed, so that they can find success with breastfeeding their new babies.
With some support and a lot of practice, I was able to successfully tandem nurse for 8 months. Tandem breastfeeding wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but despite the challenges, it was absolutely possible, even when I was solo!
I was determined to exclusively nurse for a year or more.
While I have to admit that I didn’t quite accomplish everything I had hoped to, I was able to provide our boys breast milk for 8 months in combination with formula supplementation, tandem nursing and pumping breast milk for bottles.
Making the decision to supplement (due to weight loss in one baby) was difficult to swallow, but in the end, the health and development of my child held greater importance than my pride. Ultimately, I am proud that I could provide our boys a diet of half breast milk and half formula for a large chunk of their first year.
Feeling discouraged with breastfeeding your twins, needing some support? Read this post, it is guaranteed to leave you feeling like you are part of our village.
6 Tips to Guarantee You a Successful Tandem Nursing Experience:
Breastfeeding two babies can be a tough skill to master and honesty requires a lot of practice to get comfortable with. These 6 tips helped me get through the steep learning curve I had to tackle and quickly got me confidently breastfeeding our twins like a BOSS!
1. Get Help Early:
Before going home with your new babies, exhaust the lactation resources at the hospital to ensure that you have found the best hold that works for you, that your babies have effective latches, that you understand the basics of successful breastfeeding and lastly that you know how to use your pump.
2. Find Your Favorite Position:
Try a variety to positions to find which works best for you. Also, know that your favorite position may change as they get older and more wiggly. Here are some ideas for positioning your babies:
3. Get to Know Your Pump:
Work to build your supply early! Especially in the beginning, nurse your babies often and pump frequently. Continuing to pump often will help you maintain a great supply. Breast massaging and compression during the feed can really help. Also, consider using herbal supplements like fenugreek to help increase your supply. I loved Motherlove More Milk Plus!
4. Practice, Practice, Practice:
Before you brave tandem feeding while you are alone with the babies, practice, practice, practice! While you are getting comfortable with the entire tandem nursing process, use all the extra hands you can get.
Figure out the logistics of how you will get both babies to your nursing area and get them latched. Then PRACTICE with support: I would strap the Brest Friend pillow to my waist, prop it on the crib rails and CAREFULLY scoop each baby up on my forearm to set them on the pillow. I supported their bodies with my arms and the pillow as I walked to the chair where I nursed. As they got bigger and more squirmy, I began placing them in a Rock ‘n’ Play next to my chair to safely get them in position for nursing.
Once you are feeding successfully, slowly reduce the level of support your loved ones are providing and practice on your own. Try out the logistics (getting both babies to your nursing location, latched, fed, burped and put back down) while you still have help around until you feel ready to go at it alone.
5. Pillows are Your Best Friend:
6. Location, Location, Location:
Pick a comfortable location for nursing and set it up with all the essentials you will need (nursing pillow, burp clothes, water for mommy, rockers to place babies, etc). It helps to simplify the routine for both you and the babies to have an environment that is quiet and distraction free!
Tandem nursing your twins is no walk in the park, but it truly IS POSSIBLE! Just remember, give yourself a little grace and trust that you are doing the best you possibly can. We are true believers that feeding your babies however you see fit is best…and no two experiences are the same. You do what you gotta do mama…..power on!
Food for Thought: Do you Have Enough?
It is hard to always ensure that your babies are getting enough milk, at each feeding and overall. You can really only gauge how much milk you are making by weighing your babies before and after each feeding as well as on a bi-weekly basis. I frequented breastfeeding support groups to weigh during feedings, as well as our pediatrician’s office to track their weight gain. Your babies health and development is important and not something to guess about.
Wet diapers are also a great indicator that your babies are getting enough….you should change 8-10 wet diapers per day for each of your twins.