You have heard too many comments and in turn you have come to believe that Tandem nursing will not work for you as a mom to twins. You are anxious and the fear of failure is holding you back. At Multiples Heaven, we understand your fears and after probing the internet and various articles, we have come up with this detailed article to help you understand what tandem nursing is all about and hopefully convinced you that it is possible. It may be an anthill but definitely not a mountain.
When babies are nursing simultaneously at the same feeding time it is known as tandem nursing. When used, you do not have to worry about who to feed first. It saves time and gives the mother plenty of time to rest and focus on themselves afterwards.
When to start Tandem Nursing
We recommend individual nursing for your twins before moving on to the tandem method. This way, your baby will learn to support their heads up, latch onto your breast and grab ahold of you. Individual nursing at the beginning will also give you a chance to understand and learn about your twins’ individual personalities, who feeds better and who is experiencing problems with breastfeeding. It may takes a few weeks to accomplish all this.
How to go about it
Once your babies are able to relatively latch on and grab ahold of you, you can give Tandem breastfeeding a try. For starters, you want to make sure you get the necessary gear to make the process easier, from pillows, to breast pumps (in case you want to incorporate bottle feeding) and mommy entertainment (we want you to be relaxed as your babies nurse.)
As Dr. Rosenthal suggests, your choice of pillow should be even, large enough and widespread to accommodate both babies. Here are a few recommended pillows.
My Brest Friend nursing pillow for twins– It is adjustable to fit most women’s sizes and has a safety buckle. The cover is removable for washing and it has a spacious design to get everyone comfortable. It has a supportive backrest to prevent shoulder and back pains for the mother.
Twin Z pillow– It has a buckle for safety, a spacious design and a washable cover. The down side is that it’s not adjustable to fit the sizes of most moms. Also has a back support.
Wyyggnb nursing pillow– It is a lightweight design, has a safety buckle, soft material and is a multipurpose.
The position you choose will depend on how comfortable it allows you to be and the age of your babies. Below are a few you can choose from.
This is perhaps the most common one and a favorite to many twin moms. It is also known as the double clutch as you will be holding one baby to the right breast and the other to the left breast. Their backs will be supported by a pillow while their legs will be under your arms on each side. Use bolster blankets to support their heads and let them have a comfortable grasp. Alternatively, you can use your hands to support their heads if they are yet to hold themselves up.
You will be reclined on a seat or the back rest of your bed with pillows supporting your back to give you a gentle slope for your babies to rest on. The babies on the other hand will be laying on top of your belly, each latching on a breast. Use your arms to support the babies’ heads and body. The key to comfort in this position is using enough pillows to support your back. You don’t want shoulder and back problems.
Both babies’ heads will rest in the nook of your elbows with their feet laying across your belly. Swaddling them will prevent discomfort from entangling feet.
This is more of a variation of cradle position. The babies will lie on a pillow on each respective side with their legs facing the opposite direction. To understand better, picture one baby latching on the left breast with his legs tucked under your right arm while the other latches on your right breast and his legs tucked under your left arm. Their lower bodies are basically crossing over each other. Support each with your arms and use pillows to avoid excessive pressure being exerted on one baby.
Who said moms can’t get creative? If this positions don’t work for you, try combining two that will work for you.
The actual nursing process
Before we go further, you need to understand that Tandem breastfeeding is a process that needs mastering. You will not become a guru in your first attempt. You need to practice, practice until you get it to an almost perfect level (We have to be agree that nothing is ever a 100% perfect.) None the less, with a determined spirit and the right support system you will be hitting those nursing milestones sooner than you think.
Choose the most comfortable station for nursing. It could be that comfy sofa in your living room, your bed or on a fluffy carpet. Position yourself at a forty five degree angle and plop up pillows to a comfortable position for you and the babies. The real deal in this step is finding enough room for the three of you. You don’t want any squeezing happening especially if you have just undergone a C-section delivery. Align your babies to your breasts in a way that is comfortable for all of you while making sure that each baby is latched on a breast the right way.
Keep track of which baby takes which breast and alternate them every feeding time. This will ensure an even emptying and milk production cycle. You can grab a movie to keep you entertained as your nurse them.
You don’t have to worry about milk supply as your breasts are stimulated through the babies suckling to produce enough milk for two. Either way, ensure you consume enough nutrient rich food for you and your babies as directed by a lactation consultant. The type of diet you are on will depend on your babies’ nursing levels, your weight and activity level. We recommend taking water and other fluids after breastfeeding to boost hydration. (Include a study of fluids benefits in breastfeeding mothers) babies should be fed 10- 12 times a day every 2-3 hours for a duration of 20-30 minutes depending on their weight, health, nursing routine and your babies breastfeeding ability. Some mums may need to work with a lactation consultant if they are having difficulties with milk supply.
If one of your babies has trouble latching, you can latch the one with no difficulty then proceed to latch the other baby as you provide him/her with support. When latched you should be able to clearly see their full lips and their tongue should be below the nipple. Australian Breastfeeding Association says that poor attachment (latching) is the most common cause of nipple soreness and difficulty in milk supply. It may take time but help your baby through latching difficulty until they are able to do it right.
Having a partner to help you with the process will make it 10× easier. They can help you latch the babies and support them before you learn to handle it on your own. A great support system is instrumental in helping you catch on to your sleep. A little helping hand will give you a bit more leeway to rest and focus on you. Join a twin mothers support group and learn from what other twin mums have got to say from their experience with tandem feeding.
Quick take away tips
You’re biggest desire as a mother is to give your babies the best and only the best. Eating right and staying hydrated will increase your milk supply. In return, your babies will grow up healthy with all those precious nutrients and essential breast milk antibodies that will battle health issues that may try to take their chance with them at a young age. Discuss with a lactation consultant about your diet plan.
Nothing feels better than knowing that you are not alone in your breastfeeding journey. Support can come in various ways like your partner, some friends and a lactation consultants. Your partner, close friends and family will provide you with home support like taking up other chores, emotional and logistical support or any other way which makes you feel that they are there for you. A lactation consultant on the other hand will give you first hand important information on breast feeding aspect and your diet plans to allow a smoother sailing for you and the babies. Join a twin moms group or club for more learning experience and another spectrum of emotional support. No one gets you better than a person who is in the same situation as you are.
- Be realistic in goal setting
It’s a learning process and you will make mistakes on the way. Finding the gear that works for you may take some time and such a failure will leave you frustrated. Keep trying and gathering as much information as you can. Talk to lactation consultants and learn a place or two that needs improving.
Tandem nursing will not be a walk in the park with all sunshine and fluffy clouds. But one thing we can assure you is that once you master the art, you will have more time on your hands to focus on yourself and other activities with your lovely babies. Read about moms’ experiences with Tandem nursing here.