Many mothers respond to the diagnosis of a multiple pregnancy with mixed emotions, including fear of a high-risk pregnancy and of breastfeeding more than one baby. "How am I going to make enough milk!?" You can prepare for breastfeeding multiples while you are pregnant, by eating foods high in nutritional value and eliminating junk food. You do not want to restrict your weight gain, as that may result in lower birth weight in the babies. Multiples can be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives, just like singletons, so you will have plenty of time to lose that pregnancy weight while you are breastfeeding.
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Remember that nursing your babies simultaneously instead of separately will not only save you time, but will increase your body's production of prolactin, thus increasing your milk production and your feelings of well-being and calmness. However, nursing individually also has benefits, because it will give you the opportunity to give one baby individual attention at a time. All mothers of multiples are different, as are the babies themselves; you will need to experiment and to find out what works out best for you and for your family.
An Obstetric Nurse, La Leche League Leader, or a Lactation Consultant can be of great assistance for you as you learn how to position your babies at the breast. As the weeks and months go by, you can continue to turn to them for support because your babies' needs will change as they grow. Your local La Leche League provides monthly series meetings where you can find other mothers with similar experiences, and the knowledge and support that you need. You will want to turn to them for help if you experience problems such as sore nipples or thrush.
The Advantages of Breastfeeding Multiples
(the same for singles, and even more important for multiples):
- Breastfeeding Contracts Your Uterus.
Since your uterus has stretched even more to accommodate more than one baby, this is a great benefit for your healing post-partum body.
- Breastfeeding Ensures that you Bond with your Babies.
Particularly if there is separation from the mother during a NICU stay, breastfeeding guarantees that you will give both of your babies the skin-to-skin contact that they need. Many mothers find that they feel closer to one baby over another, and breastfeeding will help you feel close with both.
- The Mothering Hormone, Prolactin.
Hormones released during breastfeeding will calm you down, which is so helpful when you are living with two crying babies. Prolactin also helps you make enough milk for both your babies.
- Financial Benefits, Save Money.
You can expect to save $2000 or more during your twins' first year on formula costs alone. You also do not have to buy bottles and other accessories. Also, breastfed babies enjoy fewer illnesses, so you will save tons on hospital bills.
- Immunities and Unique Nutrients Make Your Milk the Perfect Food for Your Babies.
All infants receive immunities from their mothers in utero, but you will provide immunities to illness each and every time you breastfeed your babies. Your milk is unique to your babies' needs at every stage of their development. Since many multiples are born prematurely and with complications, you will produce the first milk, or colostrum, for a longer period of time to meet your babies' nutritional needs.
- Your Milk is Available Immediately.
No getting up at all hours of the night, heating up formula, your babies screaming and waiting for the bottle, and spending time cleaning bottles and nipples, while you could be cuddling and snuggling your babies.
In conclusion, try to take comments and criticisms from your relatives and friends with a grain of salt. They may just be trying to help when they say, "why don't you just let me feed them a formula bottle so you can get some sleep?" or, "are you sure you are making enough milk?" or, "Isn't this wearing you out? Why don't you just wean them?" These comments may undermine your confidence as a mother and your ability to provide primary care for your babies. Sadly, pressure to wean (before a breastfeeding dyad or triad is ready) is commonplace in a formula-feeding society. And the use of formula supplements will only decrease your precious milk supply that you are working so hard to maintain. It is best for your relatives and friends to help you with the housework, bring food, do your laundry, change the babies' diapers, do your shopping, and take your dog for a walk if they want to see you get more rest. Be specific to them in the areas that you really need help! Especially if all you need is a shoulder to cry on and someone who will listen when you feel overwhelmed.