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How to breastfeed twins: The logistics of double nursing

How to breastfeed twins: The logistics of breastfeeding twins when on your own.

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 about 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.  I wanted to at least try to give my twins breast milk.

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 exclusively breastfeeding twins on my own with a toddler around.

It is possible.  Here’s how to breastfeed twins.

How to breastfeed twins: the logistics of double nursing. #nursing #breastfeeding #twins

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How To Breastfeed Twins: The Logistics of Nursing Twins

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 milk 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:

  1. Water. You need to drink even more when you are nursing twins.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. Water. I had his sippy and more water to refill as needed.
  2. 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.
  3. Baby wipes.  You never know what a two-year-old is going to get into.  It just never hurts to have these nearby.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 😉

How To Safely Breastfeed Your Twins Alone

The step-by-step guide to breastfeeding twins. How to prepare, how to get them into position on your own, and how to entertain your toddler while you nurse. The practical guide to nursing twins. #twins #breastfeeding #guide #logistics #newborn #baby #nursing Team-Cartwright.com

Getting Your Twins Into Position

I used a twin breastfeeding pillow the whole time I breastfed the girls.  I cannot say enough good things about the My Brest Friend Twins Nursing Pillow.  It made tandem nursing my twins together so much easier, and yes is worth every penny.

(I did a lot of research on which twin nursing pillow to buy during my pregnancy and after.  Here is what you need to know about the two big choices: Twin Z vs My Brest Friend Twin Nursing Pillow: Which Is Right For You?)

I didn’t like using a pillow with Ben, but when it came to tandem feeding 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.)

  1. 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.
  2. Strap on the nursing pillow.
  3. 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.
  4. Pick up the other baby, sit back, and put her in position.
  5. Pick up the baby from the couch and put her in position.
  6. Nurse.

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 babysitting, Baby can’t fall off the floor.

The reason we didn’t do that from the start is we had hardwood 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.

Breastfeeding Twins

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.

There are several breastfeeding twins positions.  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:

  1. Nursing Twins.  All about getting started nursing your babies.
  2. Nursing Twins: Thoughts on a year.  How nursing changed as the first year went on.
  3. Weaning Twins: How to bring your nursing journey to an end.  How we wrapped up our time nursing.
  4. Everything You Need to Know about Breastfeeding Twins: Answers to all your questions about breastfeeding twins.
  5. Must Have Supplies for Breastfeeding Twins: You don’t need much to breastfeed, but there are a few key items that will help.
  6. Breastfeeding Twins: The Ultimate Resource Guide: A collection of all things breastfeeding twins.

When You Are Finished Nursing Your Twins

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Put the first baby in her bouncer.  Make sure you never leave her side when she is on the couch!
  4. 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.

How to breastfeed twins: the logistics of double nursing without help. #nursing #breastfeeding #tips #twins

You Can Breastfeed Your Twins On Your Own

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.

Feeding 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.

It is possible to breastfeed twins. 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.

If you need help tracking your twins- who ate when, who pooped when, did anyone even sleep at all? – check out my free printables!

If you are looking for additional help, consider a lactation consultant.  Another great option is the La Leche League.  They have twin-specific information—> Breastfeeding Multiples

Which twin nursing pillow is best? Get the pros and cons of the Twin Z and My Brest Friend twin breastfeeding pillows. #twins #breastfeeding #nursingpillow #twinZ #mybrestfriend #breastfeedingpillow #breastfeedingtwins #bottlefeeding #feedingtwins Team-Cartwright.com

How To Breastfeed Twins

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Step by step instructions for how to breastfeed twins when you are on your own. How to prepare, how to get both babies into position, and how to safely finish up. (Plus how to handle having a toddler too!)

Instructions

  1. Plan ahead for when to nurse. You want to stay ahead of your twins' hunger.
  2. Gather all your supplies before you start nursing.
  3. Place your babies safely in front of your nursing spot. (I used bouncers to safely hold my twins.)
  4. Put on your twin breastfeeding pillow.
  5. Place one twin safely on the seat next to you. Do not walk away.
  6. Pick up the other twin. Sit down to nurse and place this twin into position.
  7. Gently scoop up the first twin again and place her into nursing position.
  8. Breastfeed your twins.
  9. When finished, gently place one twin on the seat next to you. Do not walk away.
  10. Place the other twin back into her bouncer.
  11. Place the remaining twin back into his bouncer.
  12. Unstrap your nursing pillow. You did it!

Notes

Please remember safety first. Never walk away from a baby on an elevated surface.

As your twins get older (and antsier), it is easier to tandem feed while sitting on the floor. This way you can help them roll gently to the floor to get back to the playing once they are done nursing.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. It takes practice to safely get your twins into nursing position on your own.

Breastfeeding Twins

These are the resources you need to successfully breastfeed your twins.

Learn how to breastfeed twins when you are all alone. How to be prepared, how to get them into position without help, and how to get them safely back down. #breastfeeding #twins #nursing #baby #newborn Team-Cartwright.com
How to breastfeed twins when you are alone. (Or with a toddler too!) Learn how to tandem feed, what positions work best, and which nursing pillow to try. The best tips for nursing twins unassisted from a twin mom who exclusively breastfed twins for 15 months. #BreastfeedingTwins #NursingPillow #BreastfeedingPositions #BabyTwins #MilkSupply Team-Cartwright.com
How in the world do you breastfeed twins at the same time? I mean, how do you even get them into position, especially if you are on your own? Here are the logistics of getting your twins into position for successful tandem nursing. #breastfeeding #twins #breastfeedingtwins #tandemnursing #breastfeedingpositions #nursingpillow Team-Cartwright.com
How to breastfeed twins on your own, the logistics of double nursing.

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Ellen

Wednesday 4th of September 2019

What did you do when you were out? Say at the park? Family’s home for the holidays or shopping? Did these kinds of outings stop for the first few months? Were you hiding in public bathrooms? Or is there a secret to twin feeding in the car? ? depression sets in when I’m inside too long. Loved your post and would love to hear more!

Kim

Wednesday 4th of September 2019

Good question! I loved nursing on a schedule because I did my best to plan ahead and be able to feed at home. True, some outings were shorter as a result, but with newborn twins it felt long enough. I love and fully support that women can breastfeed anywhere, but I wasn't super comfortable nursing in public myself. We did not just stay home though, and there are several options for breastfeeding on the go. 1. You can feed one at a time. This way you aren't exposed as much. I found if I kept sessions within about 15 minutes of each other the schedule wasn't hurt at all. (You may end up doing a shorter feed if this is the case, more of a snack to tide your baby over. Just make sure you get a full feeding again when you can and hop back on schedule the next day.) 2. If we were at a friend's or family member's home I would bring my nursing pillow and just go into another room. In the first few months that did mean I missed out on some social time, it took my girls awhile to eat. But honestly, in those first months, I welcomed the break. I was tired and it let me cuddle my twins and take a time out myself. Bonus, it also meant someone else was watching my toddler which was super nice too. 3. Nurse in the car. I would bring my nursing pillow and nurse in the car. We have a mini van with stow and go seats (I love it), so we always keep one seat down giving us a large open area in the back. This gave me plenty of room so I was very comfortable nursing there. I know not everyone has this option, but it worked for me. 4. Pump before you go out and bottle feed. Yes, this adds a pumping session, which stinks. But it frees you up to socialize and potentially lets other people feed your twins too. (Grandmas seem to especially like this option.;) ) You might have to wait to do this until a solid nursing relationship is established, but it can be a good way to get around nursing in public if you aren't comfortable with it.

You will find your groove and figure out what you are comfortable with. Just remember that important point: It is what you and your babies are comfortable with. You are allowed by law to nurse anywhere you want in the US, so don't let any idiots stop you. ;)

I hope this helps! :)

Tips and Advice for Feeding Twins (BFBN Guest Post) — Christine Keys

Thursday 10th of August 2017

[…] How to Breastfeed Twins: The Logistics of Double Nursing […]

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