Bringing the Babies Home
When you're the mother of multiples, you may feel like you do little else but feed your babies. By the time the second (or third) baby has been fed, burped, and changed, the first one's often hungry -- and the cycle begins all over again. This phase is grueling, but it only lasts a few months, and most say it passes by in a blur.
First, you'll have to decide whether to breastfeed or bottlefeed. Breastfeeding is the healthiest choice, plus you can nurse two babies at one time once you get the hang of it. Be prepared for the fact that preemies often don't suck as well as full-term infants, so you may need help from a lactation consultant to get your babies to latch on correctly.
Nursing two infants at once is tricky -- you'll want to experiment with different positions to find what works best for you. One strategy is to rest one baby's head in each palm or on pillows with their legs stretched out behind you. Or hold one baby in the football hold and the other cradled out in front of you. A U-shaped nursing pillow comfortably fits around your waist and keeps both babies at the breast, leaving your hands free to adjust each baby's mouth. Mothers of triplets often nurse babies two at a time and place the third next to them in an infant seat. You should also alternate breasts each feeding to make sure they produce equal amounts of milk and to lessen the chance of blocked ducts.
Other mothers decide that formula is the best option for them. That way, more people can help with the feeding -- and they can get relief during middle-of-the-night sessions. Some mothers of multiples combine nursing and bottlefeeding so that their babies get the benefit of breast milk but others can help feed them.
Plan to put your newborns to sleep side by side in the same crib for the first few months. (If you'll be keeping them in your room in a bassinet, each baby will need his own.) Triplets can sleep crosswise in the same crib. When the babies start wiggling around, you should move them into their own cribs, but keep them in the same room where they can see and hear each other. Multiples have a special bond and are used to being together.
When one of your babies wakes up to be fed in the middle of the night, wake up the other one after you're done if it's within half an hour of his normal feeding time. It's hard to wake a sleeping baby, but if you don't do this, you will be constantly tending to babies and won't get any sleep, says Sheila Laut, coauthor of Raising Multiple Birth Children (Chandler House Press).