Will I have enough milk?

Most women are able to produce enough milk to feed twins. Many women are also able to breast-feed or pump enough breast milk to feed higher order multiples. To ensure a steady milk supply, consider these tips:

  • Start right after birth. Breast-feeding your newborns soon after birth and at least eight to 12 times every 24 hours will help you establish your milk supply. The more often you breast-feed, the more milk you'll produce.
  • Pump. If your babies are born early and are unable to breast-feed right away, begin pumping shortly after you give birth to establish your milk supply.  Hospital-grade, double electric breast pumps help stimulate milk production while cutting pumping time in half. Once breast-feeding is well-established, pumping also allows other caregivers to help with feedings.
  • Alternate breasts. Offering both breasts to each baby at each feeding and alternating the breast the feedings are started on, as well as which baby feeds first, might optimize your milk production and each baby’s feeding. This is because each of your babies might have a different style of feeding. Switching breasts will also give your babies different views, which stimulates their eyes. Consider assigning each baby to one breast for a day and then switching the next day or giving each baby a different breast at each feeding.

Remember to always bring your babies to your breast — rather than bending over or leaning forward to bring your breast to your babies.

Can I combine breast-feeding and formula-feeding?

Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended. Once breastfeeding is established and if you have chosen to do an occasional bottle, expressed breast milk would be the best choice so that formula could be avoided or delayed.

However, some mothers choose to combine breast-feeding and formula-feeding. For example, you might replace one or more breast-feeding sessions with a formula-feeding. Work with your doctor, your baby's doctor and a lactation consultant to determine what works best for you and your babies. If you give your babies formula, keep in mind that your milk production might begin to decrease if you breast-feed or pump less than eight to 10 times within 24 hours.

What else do I need to know about breast-feeding twins or higher order multiples?

Getting the hang of breast-feeding twins or other multiples can be difficult, but don't get discouraged. If you're struggling, meet with a lactation consultant who has experience with multiples. Ask your baby's doctor for help. Talk to other women who successfully breast-fed multiples. Ask loved ones for assistance with household tasks and the care of older siblings — or consider hiring household help — so that you can focus on feeding and caring for your babies.

Be patient with yourself and your babies as you experience the challenges and rewards of breast-feeding two or more newborns. Above all, don't be afraid to ask for help.

April 09, 2015 See more In-depth