As if breastfeeding wasn’t challenging enough, now you’re dealing with two! Learn how to breastfeed twins with these tips.
The lactation consultant entered my hospital room. “Let’s practice tandem feeding,” she proposed.
We propped a few pillows under my arms, and she handed each baby to me. As natural and easy as I hoped it would be (especially having done breastfed my eldest), I instead felt awkward and inexperienced with two babies.
How am I supposed to support each of their floppy heads? I wondered. What do I do when I need to burp them? Am I supposed to switch sides, or keep one baby on each one? Would feeding them individually mess up their nursing schedule? And what if I can’t keep up with my milk supply?
The pillows were also just not cutting it—my arms felt sore from holding two babies.
And while I breastfed my eldest for a year, I wasn’t sure I could do the same with my newborn twins. There had to be an easier way to feed them, and preferably at the same time.
How to breastfeed twins at the same time
During the first few days, I nursed my twins individually, especially as I was figuring out how to manage two babies, much less breastfeed them. But I eventually learned how to tandem breastfeed, saving me much needed time.
If the thought of simultaneous twin feeding feels overwhelming, don’t worry. I’ll walk you through the exact process of how to set it up. Breastfeeding multiples isn’t as impossible as it might sound:
- Place your twins on either side of where you plan to sit. That could be on your bed, the couch, or the floor. Lay them down in the position they’d be once they’re on the nursing pillow. Their heads will point forward and their feet toward your back (you’ll be feeding them in a “football hold”).
- Wear your nursing pillow and sit cross-legged between them.
- Pick one twin up first and lay him on the nursing pillow, football hold-style. Make sure he has a good latch on your breast.
- Once he’s secure and nursing, pick up your other twin and latch him on with the same football hold.
In the first few days or weeks, have someone help you with tandem nursing. Managing on your own can feel overwhelming, so recruit your partner or family to help you nurse. That way, you can sit with your nursing pillow, and someone can hand each baby to you.
Even if it feels awkward, try tandem feeding at least once a day, especially with someone’s help. Choose the best time when you’re not sleep deprived to practice (in other words, not the middle of the night). The quicker you can master tandem feeding, even with newborns, the easier it’ll get.
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Burping your twins after tandem breastfeeding
Burping two babies can be tricky at first, but totally doable.
The easiest way is to get another adult to burp one baby while you hold the other. Take advantage of visitors during the early weeks, and your partner can burp one of the babies after middle of the night feedings.
But even if you’re alone, you can still burp both twins after tandem feeding. Here’s how:
- Unlatch one baby, place him over your shoulder, and pat his back for about a minute. Keep the other twin on the nursing pillow.
- Set him back down on the nursing pillow and repeat with the other twin.
- Keep alternating until both babies have burped.
Where do you lay your waiting twin while you’re burping the other?
One option is to keep your nursing pillow around your waist and lay him down on it (he’ll still be at an incline). You can also lay him on a separate pillow nearby while you burp his twin. Or you can set both of them down, remove the nursing pillow, and lay him on that.
No matter which option you choose, avoid laying them flat on their backs after nursing. Instead, keep them on an incline so that the breastmilk they just consumed can make its way down.
Same breast for each twin?
Try to alternate breasts between each twin. For instance, don’t reserve the right breast for Twin A and the left for Twin B. Instead, note that Twin A was on the right breast for the morning feeding, which means he should nurse from the left at the next one.
You see, each baby nurses differently—one might have a strong suck while the other struggles.
Alternating breasts keeps both sides even, preventing complications like clogged ducts. You’ll also keep milk production on both breasts active if you make sure your strong nurser has access to both.
How to breastfeed twins one at a time
If the thought of breastfeeding twins at the same time feels daunting, let’s talk about what it’s like to do so one at a time.
In the early days, you might feel more comfortable nursing each twin one at a time.
You’re still gaining the confidence to nurse simultaneously, especially while supporting their heads. Or you simply prefer to feed individually, whether to bond one-on-one with each or because another adult would like to bottle-feed.
Even without tandem breastfeeding, you can still breastfeed your twins one at a time and continue to follow a general routine. Here are a few tips to do so:
- Feed them one right after the other. Even though they’re not nursing at the same time, they can continue to follow the general rhythm of your day.
- Feed one baby on one breast and encourage him to empty it, and repeat with the other on the opposite breast. That’s because your milk comes in two stages: fore milk and hind milk. The fore milk is lighter in color and lower in fat and will quench your baby’s thirst. After a few minutes, the hind milk kicks in, which is creamier, whiter, and higher in fat, providing him with nutrients. Ideally, you’d want both babies to get enough milk of both types.
- Feed the twins after they wake up, not before, to break the association of feeding and sleeping. You want them to be able to fall asleep without relying on nursing to do so. And the best way to instill that habit is by feeding them after waking up, not to sleep.
In some cases, you may want to reserve the fore milk for one baby, especially if he has difficulty latching or sucking. Fore milk tends to expel much easier than hind milk, which avoids the need to suck as hard.
One of my twins had this problem.
I’d nurse him first on both breasts, offering him the easier-to-drink fore milk, and leave the hind milk for his brother. It wasn’t ideal, but this method allowed him to consume calories when he struggled to suck enough. Eventually he learned to nurse better and we went back to one breast per twin.
Twin breastfeeding pillows
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
A nursing pillow—especially those designed for twins—is a must for tandem breastfeeding. In fact, I suggest you get a nursing pillow before your twins even arrive. That way, you can bring it with you to the hospital to practice right away.
I used the My Brest Friend twin deluxe nursing pillow and loved how sturdy it was. Once my twins were a little older and I more confident, I could even nurse them hands-free.
Another fantastic pillow other twin moms recommend is the Twin Z pillow. The texture is softer, so this can also double as a resting pillow when you alternate burping. The Twin Z pillow is also useful if you plan to bottle-feed, and it offers you back support as well.
Plenty of mothers of twins feel daunted with the idea of breastfeeding two infants, especially at the same time. You may be interested in tandem feeding but feel scared about how hard it will be. You’re not sure about best practices for nursing twins, whether alone or at the same time.
Twins seem to complicate what can already seem like a challenging task.
But you can breastfeed twins! After a few tries and with the right gear, tandem feeding will come easily. You’ll get your feeding schedule aligned with the twins, whether you decide to nurse one at a time or simultaneously.
I had come a long way from nursing with propped pillows at the hospital—and did meet my one-year goal, after all.
Get more tips:
- 9 Tips on Staying Motivated to Breastfeed
- How to Prepare for Twins (The 7 Areas You Need to Cover)
- When Do Twins Get Easier?
- How to Take Care of Twins: From Feeding to Sleeping and Everything in Between
- Essential Breastfeeding Supplies You Need to Have
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