Breastfeeding Twins - how to tandem breastfeed

October 13, 2014

Breastfeeding Twins - how to tandem breastfeed

Tandem Breastfeeding GuideBreastfeeding twins can be a bit of a handful and presents it's own set of challenges. Here we talk about ways to breastfeed twins and how to tandem feed nursing siblings. 

If you’re expecting twins, the thought of how you will manage two babies simultaneously may be slightly daunting or you may be looking forward to double the fun! Either way you’ll be pleased to hear that breastfeeding twins is perfectly plausible and there’s plenty of support out there for mums of multiples. Breastfeeding not only provides great nourishment but creates a beautiful bond between you and your babies.

If your babies are born very small or sick, they may need to receive extra medical attention before you can put them to the breast. In this instance, you may need to express breast milk that can be fed to them by syringe or thin tube. Your doctors and nurses will guide you through the process and ensure you can breastfeed as soon as is possible. 

For when the moment comes to get the twins latched on for their first feed at the breast, we’ve put together a basic guide to help get you started.  Whether you feed your twins together or one at a time is up to you. There is no right or wrong, only what works best for you and your twins. 

Ask for breastfeeding support asap:
Breastfeeding is new to both you and your babies and you’re not expected to be perfect at it straight away. Make sure you ask your midwife, breastfeeding counsellor or lactation nurse to come and see you as soon as possible. They will use their expertise to ensure each baby’s latch and position is good and that they are feeding well. 

Establish each baby’s individual feeding rythym:
The general is advice is to start by feeding each baby separately on cue to ensure you establish a good latch and position with each baby. This will help you determine their individual feeding patterns such as frequency and length of feeds. These may differ from sibling to sibling. One may feed faster or get hungrier sooner. One may need more help latching on than the other. As a general guide, it’s recommended that you should be feeding your newborn babies 8-12 time every 24 hours.

Our illustrated guide on creating a good latch and breastfeeding position can be found here

Tandem feeding:
Once you’ve established their individual needs, you may wish to feed both babies together. You may find they naturally sync up to feed together or that you respond to the hungriest baby’s cue for feeding both, even if it means waking one baby.  Some mums find this very helpful in reducing the time they spend nursing, giving them more time between feeds for attending to other matters. 

Latch on the baby who needs most help first:
When tandem breastfeeding, you may find it helpful to latch on the baby who needs the most help first as it allows you to use both hands to establish a good feeding position. After which, you can latch on the more competent feeder alongside their sibling in whichever hold suits most. During this process, make sure your other baby is safe nearby within reach.  

Most popular tandem breastfeeding positions:
Here are the four most popular tandem breastfeeding positions with an accompanying Pinterest board to further illustrate how. As the first image demonstrates, the great thing about twins is that they are used to being close to each other so don’t worry about crossing limbs or bodies! Creating a good latch and position is key.

1) Double Cross Cradle - each baby’s head rests in the crook of each arm (opposite directions to each other) and their legs will cross over in front of you like an x. Lie the first baby across your body, baby facing you, supporting their head in the crook of your arm from the side you're about to feed from. Place baby’s nose level with your nipple, wait for their gaping mouth and bring baby towards breast to latch on. Repeat for second baby latching onto your other breast and gently cross any overlapping limbs. 

2) Double Cradle: using the cradle position, both babies’  feet and heads point in the same direction. Lie the first baby across your body, baby facing you, supporting their head in the crook of your arm from the side you're about to feed from. Place baby’s nose level with your nipple, wait for their gaping mouth and bring baby towards breast to latch on. Now bring the second sibling to your free breast, the back of their head almost level with their twin’s tummy, and latch on. Wrap the first sibling around the back of the second. 

3) Double rugby ball/football/bagpipe hold - each baby will lie underarm with their head level with the breast. Having a semi circular cushion greatly helps support the babies in this position. Sit in an upright position and lie the first baby alongside you, tucking them under your arm facing towards you. Their feet may be touching the chair back or wall behind you. Tuck your arm around them, keeping them rolled towards you. Place baby’s nose level with your nipple, wait for their gaping mouth and bring baby towards breast to latch on.  Be sure that the baby does not drag on the breast – if you find that they are, try sitting in a more upright forward position, reposition the support under baby and possibly even swing baby's bottom away from you a little. Repeat with the second sibling on the other breast. This position works really well if you've had a c section or if you need to correct any latching-on issues as it gives you a clear view of your baby.

4) Rugby-Cradle combination hold - Place one baby in the underarm rugby hold then latch on the sibling into the cradle position supported by the crook of your arm. Gently wrap any overlapping limbs around each other. Use the above guides to help you achieve both positions.

Keep siblings safely within reach:
If feeding twins one at a time, you'll need to pop the other sibling somewhere safe close by so that you have your hands free. One good tip is to sit on the floor with your back resting against the sofa with the second sibling laying on the floor or sat in a bouncer chair next to you. Once you've latched the first baby on successfully you should have a hand free to reach the second sibling or amuse them by wiggling a toy if necessary. This too is a very useful tip if you are tandem feeding to avoid a baby rolling off the edge of the sofa or bed when you’re busy latching on the first sibling. 

Alternate each baby on each breast at every feed:
Whether you are breastfeeding each baby one at a time or tandem feeding, it’s advised that you alternate each baby on each breast at every feed so that your breasts are equally stimulated by each baby. Their feeding style and length of feed may differ from one another so it’s important to alternate breasts at each feed to encourage milk production.

Building up milk supply:
If you would like to build up your milk supply,  use a breast pump after every feed to express and stimulate extra milk production. Don’t worry though about the quantity you produce as pumps are not as effective as a baby on the breast but the stimulation is the key to sending your body the message. Pumping during the night is especially helpful as your prolactin levels (hormones for milk production) are at their highest for producing milk.

Create a comfortable feeding spot: 
Wherever you find yourself feeding the babies, it’s advisable to have a handy bag of essentials within easy reach. For the babies, we recommend including some spare baby clothes, nappies, wipes, nappy rash cream and some muslin cloths for winding. For you we suggest packing nipple cream, fresh breast pads, a small bottle of water, some small sealed snacks and some form of light entertainment like a book, tablet, mobile phone or tv/music remote control. 

Wearing something comfortable with easy access: 
Unlike breastfeeding one baby, tandem feeding twins means that both breasts are exposed at the same time. Wearing a nursing top with lift-up nursing access allows you to feed both babies whilst keeping the rest of you covered up. So whether you’ just want a little less on show or simply want to stay warm,  these tops will help you achieve that. The soft integral bust support of our soft scoop nursing vest may even free you from wearing a nursing bra, taking away that extra fuss.   


nursing tops for breastfeeding twins

Shown left to right;
Nursing Tshirt Sweetheart Neckline Emelia £30.00
Nursing Vest Lace Scoop Neck Indie £29.00  Twin Pack £46.40  
Nursing Top Round Neck Belle £33.00 

Surround yourself with supportive friends and relatives:
As with all new arrivals, it’s helpful to have a support group of friends or relatives to help see you through the early days of breastfeeding. They may not be able to nurse the babies but they can help get you comfortable, make meals, pass you drinks, change nappies, help with winding or look after the babies whilst you use the bathroom or take a nap. If for nothing else, gentle encouragement from them will lift your spirits as you establish a feeding routine and overcome any breastfeeding challenges. The important thing is to remember they are there to support you and that you don’t need to be their host.

Above all, enjoy! 
The first few weeks can be fairly exhausting for any new mum, particularly if you’ve experienced a hard birth or cesarean section and are recovering yourself. Rest assured it does get easier and the fatigue should pass. Take the opportunity of breastfeeding to put your feet up and relax. Enjoy the quiet moment to bond with your babies and have a few minutes to yourself - whether that’s catching up with the outside world or relaxing with a book or film. 

Uplifting quote:
"The thing I love most about breastfeeding is the simplicity of making myself comfortable on the sofa with a supportive pillow, a cup of tea to hand and a good book by my side. The sheer joy of gazing at my baby whilst he suckles gently at the breast is indescribable. I may not always reach my tea before it’s cold and I may never read a single passage in my book. But that simple routine of settling down, brings me great relaxation and contentment whilst I respond to the needs of my nursing baby." Anon 


Helpful Links for Breastfeeding Twins:

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