When I was pregnant with Ali and Sammy I knew I wanted to at least give breastfeeding a go. I had a good run of it with Ben. It wasn’t always easy, but on the whole, I couldn’t complain. We made it 14 months before Ben was just over it, and quite honestly I was ready to be done too. I knew having two babies would bring unique challenges, so I did what a lot of moms do. I read. I read everything I could find on breastfeeding. Pat and I took a multiples class, and I was able to ask a lot of my questions on nursing. I knew it would be hard, but I was ready.
Except, like all things in parenting, it wasn’t as easy as I thought. The first two weeks were okay. I was nursing the girls one at a time, which made holding them easier. Pat was home for those first two weeks as well. This meant I had someone who could help me put the girls on the pillow when I was ready to nurse and help me put them back down. He could fetch something I forgot to grab. Most importantly, he could help Ben out if he needed anything. After those first few weeks, I was on my own. This meant I had to figure out how I could just logistically handle breastfeeding two babies on my own with a toddler around. It is possible. Here’s how.
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Plan the Time
The first thing to do is plan ahead. This is part of the reason I am a big fan of scheduling feedings. Scheduling does not mean that you are trying to spread nursing sessions out as far as possible as fast as possible. If anything with twins I would move them closer together. Scheduling means that you stay ahead of the big hunger so you can be prepared and ready to nurse before your babies reach the upset stage. You are prioritizing nursing time and setting yourself up with everything you need for it. (And no, scheduling does not mean you are going to lose supply.)
Set the Stage
It helps to have a nursing spot. For me this was on the couch (or on the bed if we were upstairs.) Get together everything you are going to need for a bit. In the early newborn days, Ali and Sammy could nurse for an hour or longer. Trust me, you want to take the few moments to prep for that. This means hit the bathroom before you start, and lay out all your supplies. Things to consider having nearby:
- Water. You need to drink even more when you are nursing twins.
- Snacks. I was so hungry in the early days! A small snack was a must. I did not want to sit around starving for an hour.
- Phone. It can be for just entertainment purposes, but it is also a safety thing. If something happens you want to be able to call for help. Bonus points for keeping the charger nearby too.
- Book/iPad/Remote. Yes, breastfeeding is a perfect time to cuddle with and love on your babies. This is definitely something you should do. But, well, sometimes you can get bored. During the middle of the night sessions having the TV on kept me sane and awake.
- Burp cloths. When one baby spits up you can pick her up and clean her up, then get back to nursing. With twins you might have one spit up while the other is still happily eating. It’s just as awesome as it sounds. A stash of burp cloths can help you handle anything without having to get up and disturb your eaters.
Prep for Your Toddler
Nursing your second and third children means you still have that first one to take care of. Scheduling nursing sessions meant I could prepare for his needs too. For us this meant Ben had a fresh diaper. (We put off potty training until the girls were older. I did not want to deal with those two things at the same time. But if your child is potty trained encourage them to go before you are unable to help.) I made sure I had what Ben would need during the nursing session.
- Water. I had his sippy and more water to refill as needed.
- Snacks. I didn’t always let Ben know I had snacks. I didn’t want to start a snacking habit that we didn’t need. But I kept a stash nearby if needed.
- Baby wipes. You never know what a two-year-old is going to get into. It just never hurts to have these nearby.
- Books/toys/activities. Once we got into the groove of nursing I was able to be reasonably hands-free, meaning I could do more with Ben during these sessions.
- Remote/iPad. I know, screen time should be minimal for kids. But there were a lot of times where I couldn’t focus on Ben because I had to help the girls nurse, or that Ben just wasn’t interested in what I had to do with him. We watched a lot of TV in those early days. While not ideal, I really think it isn’t the end of the world. I tried to focus on educational shows. I was also annoying and would pause the shows to ask Ben questions and keep him engaged. This held his interest and kept him near me.
This all seems like a lot, but after gathering it all a few times it will become second nature. And nothing is more frustrating than needing something but being trapped under two sweetly eating babies. Better to be over prepared. Once you have set the stage you have to actually get two babies to your breasts to nurse. When I had another adult around I could settle in with one baby and have the second handed to me. But most of the time I was home alone with all three kids. For some reason I didn’t trust Ben to hand me one of his newborn sisters, so I had to do it on my own.
Loading the Babies
I used a nursing pillow the whole time I breastfed the girls. I cannot say enough good things about the My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow. It made nursing so much easier, and yes is worth every penny. I didn’t like using a pillow with Ben, but with the girls having the pillow was a must. It gave me a shelf basically to hold the girls on. It was all one piece so nothing slipped out of place. And the gentle slope towards mean meant the babies couldn’t roll off. It also strapped on to me like a giant fanny pack, so I could put it on and walk around with it. (Not with the babies on it, of course, it isn’t that strong. But I could carry a baby and not need to hold the pillow up.)
- Make sure babies are in their bouncers in front of the couch. The added height of the bouncers helps if you are leaning over to pick up or put down a baby.
- Strap on the nursing pillow.
- Place one baby on the couch. Now, yes. Placing babies on the couch is unsafe if you leave them alone. I would stand or sit on the edge of the couch in front of the baby to make sure she couldn’t roll anywhere.
- Pick up the other baby, sit back, and put her in position.
- Pick up the baby from the couch and put her in position.
I want to reiterate that any time I placed one of my babies on the couch I was right there with her and watching her to make sure she didn’t fall. (And I was always within arms reach.) Never walk away from a baby on a couch, that is not safe. As my girls got older and were able to roll and wiggle more we started nursing with my sitting on the floor. As my mom told me when I started baby sitting, Baby can’t fall off the floor. The reason we didn’t do that from the start is we had hard wood floors at the time. Any mother who has had babies in the traditional way can tell you that it can hurt to sit for too long on hard surfaces. The couch was much easier and less painful.
At this point, you just nurse your babies. I know, it usually isn’t as easy as it sounds. But for the scope of this post I am going to stick to the logistics around the nursing set up more than the actual nursing session itself. I will say I preferred the football hold for my girls. That is their heads were in the middle at my breasts, and their feet were by my armpits. We actually were able to use this position the whole time we nursed. I found it to be most comfortable for me and the girls. As to the actual nursing part, you can check out my posts on what worked for me:
- Nursing Twins. All about getting started nursing your babies.
- Nursing Twins: Thoughts on a year. How nursing changed as the first year went on.
- Weaning Twins: How to bring your nursing journey to an end. How we wrapped up our time nursing.
Unload the Babies
Once your babies are done eating it is time to get them back off the pillow. I’ll be honest, any time Pat was around I asked him to take a baby when they were done. It is way easier than trying to get them back into a safe position on your own. But you can do it by yourself. You just reverse how you loaded them on to the pillow.
- Place one baby on the couch. I would still be sitting right there, so she was safe. An extra bonus of the nursing pillow is that it can kind of be used as a safety barrier to prevent baby from rolling off the couch while you put down the other baby.
- Place the remaining baby into her bouncer. I loved having the bouncers for this. The extra couple of inches of height they gave made it way easier to put down one girl while making sure the other on the couch was still safe. Basically, you need to be able to put a baby somewhere safe so you don’t have to walk away from either girl.
- Put the first baby in her bouncer. Make sure you never leave her side when she is on the couch!
- Take off your nursing pillow. You did it!
Once my girls got older and didn’t like just snuggling on the pillow after eating it became even better to nurse on the floor. When they were done Ali and Sammy would just kind of roll off the pillow to go play. Being on the floor meant I could help them get down safely with one arm. Of course, this meant that part of the prep was making sure the gates were up and the surrounding area safe for the girls to play.
I know this all sounds like a lot, but trust me it gets easier. Planning ahead means you aren’t stranded without something you need while nursing. It means you can be ready for your other children’s needs as well. This helps you build independence, and I think the confidence, to care for your multiple children on your own. Before you know it all this will become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it. You and your babies will figure out what works best for you. Nursing twins can be messy and challenging, remember to give yourself some grace in this. It isn’t about being picture perfect, it’s about doing what is best for you and your babies.
Nursing twins is possible. Nursing twins with other children around is possible. And nursing twins with other children around and as the sole adult caretaker is possible. You got this, Mama.
Do you have questions on how to nurse your twins? I would love to help! Have a tip that worked well for you? Please share! Let’s help each other out.