Being a twin mum, tandem feeding became an essential skill for surviving the ‘newborn’ phase and beyond when breastfeeding twins. Lots of mums also find themselves tandem feeding an infant and an older child; so it’s not a skill just reserved for multiples! But I’m going to try and focus on twins, because that’s my thing!
The early days
While my boys were tiny, I tandem fed constantly! With them both in a rugby ball position, a twin feeding cushion, and all the pillows or sofa cushions nearby to prop and support the three of us. Initially this required A LOT of support. I needed someone to pass me babies, someone to stuff pillows around me once I had babies attached, and someone to generally feed, water and entertain me. I slowly became more independent with sorting these things. If anyone has seen the way I ‘throw’ my children around these days; it’s down to swiftly learning how to maneuver a baby with one hand in bed without moving the rest of your body!
I learned to tandem feed with nurse support in hospital. Learning how to do this myself once we were home was hard work, especially as we had other complications with our feeding journey. But getting to grips with handling, moving and getting tiny twins latched was a huge factor in our success. I spent the majority of my time in bed, latching babies and focusing on getting them feeding efficiently. If I was struggling to feed either of them, I would take a break from tandem feeding and just feed them individually. Giving them time and attention. And then get back to tandem feeding when I felt more confident in their feeds.
My experience of breastfeeding twins in public
Out in public, I just didn’t tandem feed, though I know a whole load of twin mums who successfully manage it! Koala holds and upright feeding can be great with twins, as can mastering a sling feed! I found it was easier for me to just individually feed when I was out and about. There’s generally always someone who will volunteer to cuddle a baby while you feed the other!
Why breastfeed twins?
Breastfeeding twins is a labour of love. It is hard. It takes some real perseverance to build your skills. But for me, it has been worth every moment. My boys health and wellbeing has been completely supported by breastmilk and breastfeeding. Feeding the boys became a magic tool, I still don’t think I know how to settle two babies without boobs! And a year later, it is still something I am proud of and glad I continued!
My tips for tandem breastfeeding twins? (or actually for breastfeeding any number of babies!)
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. Find what feels good and what works for you and your babies. Move pillows, get your knees supported with lying in bed, adjust things until you feel sustainably comfortable. It’s a case of just building your confidence, and in the early days, ask people to help you get comfortable.
- Get as much face-to-face support as you can. It will work wonders for your confidence. If face-to-face support isn’t possible, make the most of some of the amazing online resources and support groups! Twins Trust, Early Nourishment and Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK are my go to resources for feeding support with multiples. These are great for doing some research before babies are born too, and are more than welcoming for all mums, regardless of what stage of motherhood they are in!
- Look after yourself! Stay comfortable, make sure you’ve got water to hand, eat all the snacks regardless of the time of day or night. Binge that Netflix show, put on a facemask while you are stuck under cluster feeding babies.
- Remember it is okay to feel frustrated, it is okay to feel like it’s too much, it’s okay to feel however you feel about your feeding journey. But also remember you are not alone, there is almost 24 hour support online and people will listen to you, even if you just need to offload!
I can honestly say I love feeding my twins, though it has been incredibly hard. It’s a journey of different hurdles, with periods of being really intense and difficult, separated with wonderful periods of joyful feeding. And every drop really does make a difference, it’s not an all or nothing thing. And most of all, you are not alone!
If you’re a parent of multiples then Tatyana, having run an online group for Early Nourishment through the Summer, is now doing a Twins & Multiples Walk & Talk.
If you’d like to come along then please contact us via our facebook page or here. We will shortly be adding this to our events so that it can be prebooked