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Breast-feeding Twins

What are the best positions for breast-feeding twins?

Cross-cradle hold

Sit with your babies in your lap and the babies' heads in your hands. The babies chests should be against your chest so that they don't have to turn their heads to reach your nipples. Be sure the arm of the chair is at the right height to support your arm. Use pillows to support your back, your arm, and the babies' heads. A footstool is also very helpful to raise your feet.

This is a good position because it gives you good control of the babies' heads while you are helping them get the nipple in their mouths.

Football hold

Position your babies with their legs under your arms. Hold your babies like a football along your forearm, with the babies' bodies on your arms and with their faces toward your breasts. Try to keep their whole bodies turned toward you, their chests against your chest. Make sure that their bodies are not facing up.

This is very important to avoid soreness and also to make sure that the babies are receiving enough milk. It is also a good position if you have had a cesarean section and cannot lay the babies on your stomach. If you often have plugged milk ducts, the football hold can help because it helps your babies empty the ducts at the bottom of the breasts. The football hold is good if you have engorged breasts or sore nipples.

Lying down

Breast-feeding when you are lying down is restful for you. Lie on your side and place a baby on his side facing you, with his head at your breast. You may want to place a couple of pillows at your back for some extra support. Be sure that the baby can breathe through his nose. After feeding one baby, you can roll onto the other side to feed your other baby. Often both you and the babies will drift off to sleep after feeding. Make sure that you feed from both breasts. If you don't empty both breasts, you can get a plugged milk duct.

You can also combine holds (for example, use the cradle hold for one baby and the football hold for the other). Use lots of pillows. There are special pillows available that help in positioning twins, or you can make a nursing pillow yourself.

Don't let one baby feed from just one breast. Make sure each baby feeds from each breast. This will help keep good milk supply in both breasts. This also gives them extra visual exercise. If you can tell that one of your babies is hungrier than the other, nurse the hungriest baby on the fullest breast.

What other lifestyle changes will help?

  • Having twins is a challenge, especially in the first few weeks. Let family members and friends who come to see the babies help you. They can help with shopping, bring you meals, change diapers, or watch the babies while you take a shower or a nap. Don't be shy about asking for the help you need.
  • Try to sleep when the babies are asleep.
  • Breast-feeding your babies together can save time. This works well during the first weeks. After this you may have to alternate between nursing the babies at the same time and feeding each baby separately. Your twins will have different personalities, needs, and nursing patterns. Keep careful records to be sure both are fed at each feeding.
  • Take care of yourself as well as the babies. Eat healthy food, and enjoy lots of snacks, such as low-fat cheese and crackers, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit. You need 400 to 500 calories above your pre-pregnancy diet for each baby you are nursing, plus more calcium or a calcium supplement. Be sure to drink plenty of water, juices, or milk. Drink 8 to 12 glasses of fluid a day, but not more, since more may actually cause your body to produce less breast milk. Don't drink more than 2 cups of coffee, tea, cola, or other caffeine-containing beverages a day. Caffeine passes into your breast milk and can make your babies irritable.
  • Breast milk is produced on the principle of supply and demand. The more your babies breast-feed, the more milk your body will produce for them. Your belief that your body can produce enough milk for your babies is one of the most important factors in maintaining a good milk supply. If you are asked questions such as "Are you sure you have enough milk?" or "Isn't this too hard for you?", do not doubt yourself or your ability to care for your twins. Your babies are getting enough milk, if:
    • Both are gaining weight.
    • Each newborn has 6 or more wet diapers a day and at least 4 bowel movements a day.

Where can I get help with breast-feeding?

If you have questions or worries, call your health care provider. You may also want to get the help of a lactation consultant trained to help women who are breast-feeding. Parent support groups such as La Leche League or Nursing Mother's Counsel can also be helpful.

Developed by McKesson Corporation.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-10-05
Last reviewed: 2006-08-31
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.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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