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 form. Breast-fed babies tend to have lower risks of respiratory tract, gastrointestinal and ear infections. Plus, they experience less frequent health problems such as eczema, diabetes, obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Breast-feeding also provides advantages for new moms, including valuable bonding time with the baby and a weight-loss boost. The price also is right!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breast-feeding for the first 6 months of life. Ideally, continue breast-feeding as you slowly introduce solid foods. Typically, moms breast-feed until babies are at least 12 months.
Nursing multiples is demanding. Healthy moms who are breast-feeding exclusively need about 600 to 700 extra calories per baby per day. And, you need to drink more, too. To achieve this higher-calorie goal, eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fat-free or low-fat dairy and whole grains. Also include foods rich in iron and calcium.
For optimal brain development, breast-feeding mothers should get adequate omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. This can come from eating two weekly servings of fatty fish such as salmon or sardines, or supplementation.
How does breast-feeding work when there are two or three bundles of joy? Tips for breast-feeding moms of multiples:
- Get a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can help instill confidence and answer concerns along the way.
- Get the first and second babies on the same schedule. Try nursing two babies at once and then pump and feed the other child(ren) expressed breast milk in a bottle.
- Take help from a partner. Your significant other can take over the role of changing diapers, soothing and playing with the babies.This allows mom time to rest and focus on feeding her children.
Notes on Nursing Premature Multiples
It's not uncommon for multiples to arrive a little early. Premature babies may have digestion issues and breast milk is easier on their tiny tummies. But, preemies often have trouble latching on and sucking properly. If your babies struggle to breast-feed, pump to keep mom's milk flowing. Then, when the babies are older, they may be able to breast-feed directly.
Premature babies may not be ready for solid foods as soon as full-term babies. Work with your healthcare providers to identify feeding cues that will move the child forward. In the toddler stage, children born prematurely may experience developmental delays. This may make mealtime a challenge. Practice patience and repetition.
Whether you're feeding one, two, three or more babies, never underestimate the power of a team. To give your babies the best start in life – it “takes a village” to feed multiples!