Baby, baby, baby...
Is it possible to effectively breast-feed twins
or triplets? Yes! And it’s worth the effort. Breast milk delivers the nutrients
and antibodies babies need in an easy-to-digest, convenient and economical
package. Breast-fed babies tend to have lower risks of respiratory tract,
gastrointestinal and ear infections, eczema, diabetes, obesity, and Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) among other conditions. Breast-feeding also provides
advantages for new moms, including valuable bonding time with the baby and a
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American
Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breast-feeding for the first 6 months
of life. Complementary breast-feeding can be continued once solid foods are
introduced through 12 months and beyond.
Nursing multiples is nutritionally demanding. Healthy breast-feeding
moms need to consume about 500 extra calories per baby per day. And don’t
forget to increase fluid consumption too. Nursing mothers should
focus on achieving this higher calorie goal through a well-balanced diet of fruits,
vegetables, lean protein, fat-free or low-fat dairy and whole grains to get
adequate overall nutrition, including sources of iron and calcium.
For optimal brain development, breast-feeding mothers
should get adequate omega-3 fatty acids, particularly Docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA). This can come from eating two weekly servings of fatty fish like salmon
or sardines, or supplementation.
How does breast-feeding work when there are two or three
bundles of joy? Though it seems daunting, it is possible. Melinda Johnson, MS,
Academy spokesperson, says, “With multiples, you face similar challenges
whether you bottle or breast-feed.”
Johnson and Alicia Simpson, MS, RD, LD, a lactation
consultant, offer some tips for breast-feeding moms of multiples:
- Get a good lactation
consultant. A lactation consultant can help instill confidence and answer
concerns along the way.
the first and second babies on the same schedule. “The most successful moms usually nurse two babies at once and then pump
and feed the other child(ren) expressed breast milk in a bottle,” says Simpson.
help from a partner. Simpson praises the partner who can
take over the role of changing diapers, soothing and playing with the babies to
allow the mother time to rest and concentrate on nourishing her children.
Notes on Nursing Premature
It’s not uncommon for multiples to arrive a little early.
Premature babies may have digestion difficulties eased by breast milk which is
easier on tiny tummies. Importantly, premature babies often
lack the muscle development to latch on and suck properly. If this happens, pump
to keep mom’s milk flowing until the babies are able to breast-feed
Johnson notes that premature babies may not be ready for solid
foods as soon as full-term babies. “They take a little longer to develop the
chewing motion,” she says. Johnson encourages parents and health care providers
to work together to identify feeding cues that will move the child forward. In the
toddler stage, children born prematurely may experience developmental delays
that may make mealtime a challenge. Practice patience and repetition.
Whether you’re feeding one, two, three or more babies, never
underestimate the power of nutrition, a good lactation consultant, partner
patience to give them the best start at life.
Reviewed October 2013