11 Breast And Bottle Feeding Struggles Twin Mums Will Understand

October 1, 2015
feeding twins breast feeding bottle feeding

Breastfeeding. The most natural thing in the world.

Breastfeeding twins? The most hardcore form of breastfeeding. Ever.

When I used to fantasise about motherhood, back before it became a vomit/washing/screaming/feeding merry-go-round reality, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about how I was absolutely going to breastfeed. No matter what.

It was going to be beautiful. It was going to be wonderful. I’d spend days nursing on a sofa, wearing my pyjamas with a sleepy baby on my boob, watching the whole of Mad Men/Girls/House of Cards. Occasionally patting my baby on the back and then just waiting for them to let me know when they were hungry again.

But then I found out I was expecting twins and breastfeeding became a whole other ball game.

Could I breastfeed twins?

Would I have enough milk?

How could I feed them at the same time?

Would I ever get a break?

The fantasy came crashing down as I worried that breastfeeding twins on demand would likely involve a rapid loss of sanity, red raw nipples and a relentless on-call schedule that would double up quite nicely as a form of torture.

Breastfeeding one baby is demanding. Breastfeeding two? That’s something altogether different.

However, any expectant twin mummas-to-be, don’t worry, YES, it is possible to breastfeed twins, and there are women that do succeed, and I’m in total awe of these absolute warriors. If breastfeeding were a martial art, twin breastfeeders would definitely be black belts.

As for me, I express most of my milk and breastfeed once or twice a day, sadly only for a matter of minutes before the bubs demand their meal via a fast flow teat. I mix feed too, which means my babies have on average a maximum of one or two formula feeds a day.

For me, breastfeeding just didn’t happen like it was supposed to. And I feel guilty about it. It’s probably my fault that I haven’t had the experience I wanted, as I thought nipple confusion was a myth, but my babies are still getting my milk and for that I do cut myself some slack.

However you end up feeding your twins, breast or bottle, feeding twins has Challenges. Note the capital C.

Here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

1.You HAVE to feed them at the same time

Good luck to those that let their twins’ individuality extend to having individual feeding times. If you cannot feed them at the same time, or at least one after the other, you will spend your days doing nothing but feeding.

2. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding twins is PAINFUL 

No matter what position you try to contort yourself into, almost all feeding positions involve hunching and an unnatural slouch that means you have a constant burning sensation between your shoulder blades.

3. You will experiment with all kinds of positions

You haven’t been this creative with positions since you discovered the kama sutra. One laid across your lap, the other propped on a cushion, the double rugby hold while breastfeeding, one on the boob and one on your lap with a bottle, both babies in their car seats while your extended arms slowly burn… the options are infinite.

4. You will fear moving after feeding your twins

You know that once their appetite is sated, you will have to move your lower back. And it will be stiff. And it will hurt.

5. The twins will not make things easy for you

There will be one vomiting up their feed all over themselves while the other one fusses as soon as you move the bottle to deal with their sibling. Tip: Have (100) dummies available to stopper up any crying while you sort out each twin.

6. Tandem breastfeeding requires help

You’re in position. Cushions underneath you, behind your back, on your lap and behind your head. Now all you need is an assistant to pass you each baby and be on call to rearrange them every few minutes when they lose their latch.

7. Feeding twins takes an eternity

There’s no twin mum on earth that has ever uttered the phrase “I’ll just give the twins a quick feed,” because speed and twins and eating just don’t go together. Feeds can take literally hours.

8. It’s almost endless

In those early days? There is no time other than feeding time. Feeding is a constant. Stock up on the nipple cream and emergency formula bottles for when you need a well-earned break.

9. You will write everything down

I spent weeks writing down every feed time and how much each baby had taken. It became ritualistic until sleep deprivation meant I just started guessing and forgetting and eventually the feed times spaced out to every three hours, then every three or four. Throwing out the feed time book is a HUGE milestone for any multiple mum.

10. You will be jealous of mums who breastfeed their singletons

Breastfeeding twins is inately stressful. Knowing your other baby can interrupt your bonding/feeding time at any moment means it’s never the relaxing one-to-one time you imagined because having twins isn’t a one-to-one situation. It’s two to one. Mumma, you’re outnumbered.

11. It’s a huge achievement

Seeing the bubs grow from your dedicated feeding, whether breast or bottle, is the best feeling. Success is on the scales.

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  • Reply Lia October 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I’m really sorry for this mum of twins. It seems like she really had a hard time.
    But I’m afraid this article can have s negative effect on new twin mums.
    I have had a lovely experience in feeding my slightly premature twins. I had sore nipples for a few days , they never took ages to feed (maybe a bit often to start with), I tandem and individually fed them and I tandem fed them in public a few times too. I love breastfeeding them. I’ve never had to express as I never enjoyed it and I’ve never given them formula. One of my twins struggled a bit to latch but we persevered.
    New mums, please, don’t be discouraged! Breastfeeding twins is fun and enjoyable! Mine are 13 months old and hold hands every time they tandem feed and even chat! It’s just so special!

    • Reply ursulabrunetti October 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Lia,

      Thanks for your comment – sounds like you had the breastfeeding experience of my dreams! I really haven’t had the experience I wanted – I feed the expressing machine rather than my twins these days and don’t have the bonding breastfeeding time that I so dreamt of. It’s definitely a whole new set of challenges feeding twins, but I’m determined to give them my milk as long as I can. I love breastfeeding the twins when it works but it’s a bit of a lottery these days. Sometimes they’ll latch and sometimes they’ll go stir crazy 🙁 Guess everyone’s experience depends on their babies! xxx

      • Reply Dominika January 11, 2017 at 11:39 am

        My impression from reading this blog post is exactly the opposite to yours, Lia. My twins are over 4 months and they have been breastfed exclusively since birth. I’ll take care of them by myself during long hour of the day until my husband comes back home. Understanding the twin norm as opposed to singleton motherhood norm is super important for me. Otherwise, I always ended up thinking there is something wrong with what I do e.g, when my friends tell me they fed their baby for 5 min and I ended up feeding for an hour, sometimes longer. Instead of undermining my confidence as a mum, such honest accounts of what’s it like to feed twins bring reassurance that feeding twins is difficult and not without challenges. But I do agree with Ursula, it’s totally worth it which is why in spite of food allergies, milk protein allergies, tongue tie issues with one of the twins, I stuck to it! Thanks Ursula for creating this blog which I came across only yesterday! It helped me already feel better about how imperfect twin motherhood ends up being in spite of all the effort to make it just right.

  • Reply Working mum Blog October 5, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I am not a mum of twins but still can relate to this post. I had my son last year and like you was going to breastfeed — the reality was much harder than I could have ever imagined — I took a day at a time and we are still breastfeeding (much less than before because he is eating food now too).
    Cheers for sharing your thoughts and keep blogging. I will be back to read more! Pea x

    • Reply ursulabrunetti October 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks Working Mum – I will check out your site too! Sounds like you’ve done a champion job to still be doing it! I’m going to keep going even if I only get a chance to feed them once or twice a day with the boobs!

  • Reply Kim (sisterkin) October 5, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I love this post and it is all true. I had twins born 10 weeks prem. While they were tube feed I expressed and then the hospital encouraged me to breast feed. My dauighter quickly latched on but my son was slow and struggled. I continued to express and mix fed them. I felt I couldn’t breast feed my daughter and not my son. And you’re right only a mum of mulitples could understand. Good luck x

    • Reply ursulabrunetti October 5, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Kim. It’s been liberating to mix feed but as time has gone on they’ve got a preference for the teats rather than the breast – guess they’re just getting impatient and like a fast flow. I’m still breastfeeding a little but mostly pumping so I can see what they’re eating. I feel a bit like a victim of routine…which we were desperate to establish. Twins definitely changes your expectations but I feel so blessed to have them!xxx

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