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Breast-Feeding Twins

Breast-feeding twins

Having twins is a challenge, especially in the first few weeks after birth. Twins are often born early and take longer to learn how to breast-feed. Your babies may have special needs that will delay the start of breast-feeding. For example, they may have breathing problems.

Your breasts can usually make as much milk as your babies need. The more milk your twins need, the more milk your breasts will make. Here are some tips for breast-feeding twins:

  • Expect at least 9 feedings a day with twins.
  • Switch between feeding each baby one at a time and nursing both babies at the same time.
  • Don't let one baby feed from just one breast. Make sure each baby feeds from each breast. This will help keep a good milk supply in both breasts.
  • If you can tell that one of your babies is hungrier than the other, nurse the hungriest baby on the fullest breast.

What are the best positions for breast-feeding twins?

  • Use the football hold with pillows under each arm to support the babies. Hold your babies like a football along your forearm, with each baby's body on your arm, feet pointing toward your back, and face toward your breast. Use your other hand to support your breast. Using pillows helps free up your hands.
  • You can use the cradle hold and have the babies legs overlap. Sit in a chair with your babies in your lap and each baby's head resting in the bend of your elbow on the same side where the baby will breast-feed. Each baby's chest should be against your chest so that they don’t have to turn their heads to reach your nipple.
  • You can combine holds. For example, use the cradle hold for one baby and the football hold for the other.
  • You may wish to breast feed while lying down. You can place one baby on each side. Feed one baby and then roll onto your other side to feed the other baby.

Try different positions to find what suits you and your babies best. Your healthcare provider can give you ideas of positions that might work best for you. Use pillows to support you and the babies. You can buy special pillows designed for breast-feeding twins.

Will my breasts be sore?

Soreness of the nipples has more to do with how your babies latch onto your breast than how often or long you feed. Make sure you know how to help your babies latch on and off your breast gently and easily. Do not let your babies take only the tip of your nipple. Make sure they get enough of the lower part of the areola in their mouths. This helps each baby get a good, deep latch.

If you have questions or worries about breast-feeding your twins, call your healthcare provider or lactation consultant.

Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-12-18
Last reviewed: 2013-12-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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