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It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of nursing two babies at once; you are far from alone if you feel that way.

While nursing twins certainly has its challenges, it can be done, especially if you have good resources and support.

Yes, you can absolutely nurse twins!

Many people are under the impression that nursing twins is impossible, or simply way too much work. Sure, nursing multiples may have a steeper learning curve than singletons, but it most certainly can be done. Many nursing parents do it. In fact, between 40 and 90 percent of twin parents initiate nursing after birth.

Breastfeeding, like any aspect of parenting, is something you learn and get better at the more you practice it. You will get a lot of practice while nursing twins!

When it comes to successfully nursing twins, it’s all about overcoming the initial challenges that nursing may present, finding a routine that works for you and your babies, and ensuring that you have support when you need it.

The benefits of nursing twins are the same as nursing singletons. Nursing provides not only healthy, balanced nutrition for babies, but also immunological benefits and protection from disease.

Babies who receive human milk have reduced risks of:

  • ear infections
  • stomach viruses
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • SIDS

Nursing provides protections specific to twins as well. Twins are more likely to be born prematurely and at lower birth weights than singleton babies, which can put them at a higher risk of medical complications.

For example, preemies are more prone to sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis. Consuming human milk is known to decrease the risk of these infections.

It’s understandable if you have concerns about nursing twins. If you’ve never breastfed or chestfed before, you are probably unsure about many of the same things that parents of singletons are: the basic mechanics of nursing, how to know if you are making enough milk, and what to do if you run into problems. But you have to worry about these things times two!

As the parents of twins, you probably have some other concerns as well, because nursing twins has its own specific challenges and unknowns.

Will I have enough milk?

Probably the most commonly asked question about nursing twins is whether you’ll be able to produce enough milk to feed two babies. The answer is that as long as you nurse your babies frequently, and on demand, your body will make enough milk for your babies.

The way that nursing works is by supply and demand. So, the more milk your babies take, the more milk you will make. The human body is designed to make enough milk for its offspring, no matter how many babies there are.

Should I feed them at the same time?

Every parent who nurses twins will find a feeding routine that works for them. At first, as you and your babies are learning the ins and outs of latching and positioning, it might be easier to nurse your babies one at a time.

But as time goes on, most parents find that nursing their babies at the same time saves a lot of time.

Because each of your breasts may have different milk storage capacities, and because each of your babies may have different sucking patterns and sucking strengths, experts often recommend that you alternate breasts between your two babies, whatever feeding routine you adopt.

Parents who nurse twins can encounter many of the same challenges that all nursing parents do: sore nipples, latching and positioning issues, concerns about weight gain, and milk supply.

Because twins are more often premature or have low birth weight, these concerns may be amplified.

Premature babies often have weaker sucks and may have trouble latching and getting milk out of the breast. If your babies were separated from you because they needed intensive care, it can be difficult to ensure that you are fitting in enough nursing sessions.

If your babies weren’t mature enough to nurse directly, you may have had to pump your milk, and will then face the challenge of learning how to latch in the future.

Finally, juggling the feeding needs and care of two infants at once is just hard! That’s totally typical and is why you need all the support you can get from family, friends, and other loved ones.

Questions to ask your healthcare professional or lactation consultant

It’s common to run into nursing challenges when you’re nursing twins. Here are some questions you might consider asking your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant:

  • How do I know that my babies are gaining adequate weight?
  • Can I get periodic weight checks for reassurance that my babies are getting enough milk?
  • What are some signs that my babies are growing well and meeting milestones?

Again, there’s no one “right” way to nurse twins. If your babies are gaining weight and meeting milestones, and your breasts and nipples feel comfortable, then you are doing just fine.

It doesn’t matter if you nurse using one particular position over another, or a specific kind of feeding pillow. It’s all about what works for you.

That said, there are some tips that you might find helpful:

  • Many parents find a twin nursing pillow helpful. This is a U-shaped foam pillow that hugs your waist and offers a soft spot for your babies to lie while nursing.
  • Parents often find it easiest to tandem feed their twins, which means nursing them at the same time.
  • The most popular twin nursing position is where you put both of your babies in a football hold: Each baby’s torso is draped around the side of your body with their feet toward your back.
  • Other positions to nurse twins include putting one baby in a football hold and placing the other baby in a more traditional cradle hold.
  • The best chairs for feeding twins are ones with lots of space for both babies. Many parents find it easier to nurse on a couch, in bed, or even on the floor.
  • Some parents find it easier to combine nursing and bottle feeding so others can help feed the babies at times.

Nursing twins is possible and can be very fulfilling, but it requires extra support and often comes with more challenges.

Here are some tried-and-true tips for making nursing twins work for you.

1. Nurse your babies as early after birth as possible

Nursing within the first 30 to 60 minutes after birth has been found to increase the rates of successful nursing.

If your babies are medically vulnerable and are separated from you after birth, don’t fret. Start hand expressing and pumping as soon as possible, and initiate nursing when your babies are ready.

2. Set up a nursing station

Breastfeeding parents often need burp cloths, feeding pillows, diapers, wipes, and snacks and drinks (nursing makes you hungry and thirsty!). It can be helpful to have a nursing station set up at home with all your supplies handy.

3. Always have a secure spot for your babies

Even if you feed both of your babies at once, there will be times when you need to put down one of the babies — for example, if you need to burp the other baby, or if one baby is done nursing before the other.

Having a bassinet or baby chair nearby at all times can help a lot. Some nursing parents prefer sitting on the floor while feeding, and having a soft blanket nearby to set down their non-nursing baby.

4. Eat well and stay hydrated

Nursing requires an additional 330 to 400 calories. If you’re nursing twins, you need to double that.

Nursing also makes you very thirsty. Not getting enough food or drinks here and there will not tank your milk supply, but if you’re not properly nourished, it’s much harder to have the energy to take care of your babies and feel well.

5. Accept help

It can be hard to accept help sometimes, but if you have twins, you will need all the help you can get. The people who offer help may want to help with feeding — and there is nothing wrong with having someone give your baby a bottle.

But the best way to support a parent who is nursing twins is to lighten the load around the house. Clean, declutter, prepare food, care for older siblings, diaper and burp the babies — do what you can to clear the nursing parent’s schedule so they can focus on the task of feeding.

6. Learn to nurse lying down

Babies need to feed frequently at night, so learning to nurse your babies while lying down can help immensely. A lactation consultant or nursing counselor can help with that if needed.

It’s important to transfer your baby back to their crib, bassinet, or other safe sleeping space after feeding them in bed, so having a helper for night feeds can be super helpful.

7. Consult evidence-based sources

There are a lot of nursing resources on the web and floating around social media. Make sure you only consult sources that cite evidence-based nursing information. Examples of this include:

8. Keep nursing support on speed dial

You don’t have to do this alone, and you’re not supposed to know how to solve all of your nursing challenges. Get a few phone numbers for recommended lactation consultants and nursing counselors, and keep them handy.

9. Join a nursing twins support group

There’s nothing like hearing real-life experiences of parents who have actually nursed twins. Joining a nursing twins support group through a local health center, nursing organization, or an online forum is a great way to get some parent-tested tips and support during your journey.

10. Remember that it’s not ‘all or nothing’

Nursing success is defined differently for everyone. Being a successful nursing parent doesn’t mean every feeding has to happen at the breast, either.

Pumping your milk and having someone help bottle-feed your babies might be what makes nursing twins work for you. Supplementing with formula might work best for you too.

Nursing isn’t all or nothing: Every drop counts, and you get to define your success for yourself.

If the idea of nursing twins feels scary or impossible, you can take heart in knowing that you’re not the only one who has felt this way.

But if nursing your babies is something that feels important to you, you can make it work. It’s all about educating yourself on some breastfeeding or chestfeeding basics and making sure you have experts to call if you need their help.

And, most importantly, it’s about having a strong support network in place so you can focus on getting into a good nursing routine with your babies from the start.

Don’t let others define what success means when it comes to nursing twins. You need to figure out what works best for your life and for your babies. You can do this!