This post has been a long time coming. I've been meaning to post a little guide for expectant twin mamas (and any other curious folk) on breastfeeding twins, complete with discrete photos. So here it is. I talk to so many people that find it absolutely amazing that I am able to nurse two babies, and a lot of expectant twin mommies I've talked to are very sceptical in their abilities to do it themselves.
I have worked hard, through trial and error, to find a good nursing system that works for me. Granted, it may not work for you, but I hope that in some way it helps and encourages you to nurse your twins (or singleton). Also, I've got to say that I have not figured this out all on my own. I've talked to a couple different lactation consultants, my LLLI leaders, lots of mamas on thebump.com's eco friendly family forum (check us out, we are a lovely bunch of people), and most significantly-another local twin mama that has become a great friend and mentor. Ashley, thank-you for your help and I am so glad that I am getting to know you.First of all I find it immensely helpful to gather anything that I might need ahead of time, because once I get the babies latched on, I am not getting up for anything. On my list of things to keep near me while nursing are a glass of water, a small snack, and my pillows. Notice that I did not include remote controls or the phone. I actually try to remember to turn off my phones while I nurse, as I find it incredibly distracting to myself and the babies. I don't watch t.v. while I nurse because it is also distracting and I like to limit the noise level. I have also gotten in the habit of putting a sign on the front door when I am nursing them or when they are napping, that says "Shh, babies are sleeping. Please do not knock, ring, or call. Try us again later."
blessednest.com, one nest egg from blessednest.com, and one throw pillow that goes behind my back. I grab both babies and hold them against myself as I plop down on the couch. Hugging both of them against me with one arm, I wedge the throw pillow behind me in a way that gives me comfortable back support. Now, I place one nesting pillow on my right side and one on the left slightly over lapping in the center. I find it more comfortable to keep their heads elevated, so I shove a nest egg underneath both pillows, where they overlap. I really love the pillows from blessednest.com because they are filled with buckwheat hulls and you can adjust them to get the firmness where you want it. (think bean bag chair) I usually make it firmer under their heads and arrange for less hulls near their bum, which puts them in a great position.
Once my pillows are in place I put one baby on my right side and adjust him to a comfy position, playing with the firmness of the pillows until he seems to be in a good place. I latch him on. I repeat this with the other baby on the left side. They are head to head, kind of like two football holds, only supported with pillows. This position works best for us and keeps both babies happy. I have tried having them overlap or lay in the same direction against each other, but as they are getting older and more aware, they seem to become more easily bothered and distracted by each other. In my position they do grab at each others hands, but at least they aren't kicking each other. If you have problems with them grabbing at each other, I've heard the swaddling them so that their arms are tight against their bodies will help.
I highly suggest getting yourself a couple of blessed nest pillows. The two that I have pictured in this post are organic, and available for $87 Here. Mine are Pacific Grove and Key Lime. They are very very handy for nursing twins, or a singleton for that matter. I find them indispensable. Here is how I use the pillow if for some reason I am only nursing one baby.
My boys are seven months old now and are still nursing every two to three hours. When one twin is hungry, I feed them both, whether or not the other twin was acting hungry. I have a better let down this way and can give my "failure to thrive twin" a little boost of easy flowing milk. Another benefit of nursing them at the same time, is that it takes a lot less time overall. For months I was nursing them separately and it seemed like all I had time for was nursing. Now I have some extra time to devote to B Bear.
One other thing that I want to mention is that I have gotten myself used to nursing in public. I realized that if I want to be able to leave the house, I have to be able to nurse them. I bought a used ring sling from a friend of mine and take it with me everywhere. If you run into me out and about, you are likely to see me carrying or nursing one baby in the sling. To do this, I loosen the sling, and put in on with the rings on the opposite side from the breast I want to nurse on. Next, place the baby in the sling so that his bottom is cradled in the sling. Lean the baby so that his head is near your breast and tighten the sling. Then I latch him on. His feet stick out the other side and really the only thing the sling is holding are his bum and thighs. I never do this hands-free. Baby's head is cradled by my arm and we are tummy to tummy.
Good luck with nursing. You can do it, and it is so so good for your baby(ies). Remember that what works for me may not be the right arrangement for you. Play around with it and see what works for you and your babies. I hope that this was in some way helpful and that you are inspired to nurse away!
Note: I was not paid in any way other than being sent merchandise to review and mention the nesting pillows from the blessed nest. Their pillows are fabulous and that is my very own honest opinion.