Can one mom make enough milk for more than one baby? Here are five facts about breastfeeding multiples:
1. Yes, you can make enough milk. Because milk production works on a supply-and-demand basis, even if you have three babies nursing, your body can step up production to meet the need. You'll have to take in more calories and liquids than most breastfeeding mothers do, however. Eating full, healthy meals and snacks will be more important than ever.
2. It helps to feed them all at once. Most experts recommend simultaneous feedings, because otherwise just when you're finished with one, another will need to be fed. If you have twins, you can feed them together by holding both in the football hold position, or holding them in cradle holds with their bodies crossing each other. It's also possible to hold one baby in the cradle hold, the other in the football hold.
3. Try alternating breasts with each baby. By giving both babies the chance to use both sides, you'll make up for any difference in their demands -- for instance, if one baby is a bigger drinker than the other, alternating will keep the supply in both breasts even.
4. Supplement with formula if needed. If you have triplets or higher multiples, formula may need to enter the equation. You can breastfeed two and have the other baby bottlefed with formula at the same time; keep rotating so that all the babies get most feedings at the breast but some on the bottle.
5. Extra help is critical. You'll be tired in the weeks after delivering multiples, and the demands of caring for them will be taxing. You may want to pump breast milk so that your partner can do a nighttime feeding. It's also a good idea to line up friends or family to help with housework, meals, and baby care, or you can look into hiring help in the form of a postpartum doula, baby nurse, housecleaner, mother's helper, or any other available assistant.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; La Leche League
Originally published in American Baby magazine, Decemeber 2002.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.