Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeding Two At A Time: Part 1, Nursing and Bottle-Feeding

Feeding two babies at one time is challenging!  But with practice, you can master all sorts of methods.  In this post I'll just be explaining what we did, and what worked for us.  This post, Part 1, deals with babies; Part 2 will discuss feeding two once you start solids.

When the twins first came home, we were doubly blessed with the two boys, and you might say quadruply (is it a word?) blessed to have both my parents living with us for the first couple of months.

When you have extra people around to help:

  • Nurse one baby while someone else bottle-feeds the other baby.  (Sometimes the bottle had pure pumped breast milk,  sometimes it was supplemented with formula if I hadn't pumped enough, and sometimes it was just formula.)  I kept track so that each baby had the same amount of "turns" nursing.  
  • Tandem nurse.  A few times I had my mom help me to tandem nurse using a large, twin nursing pillow.  But this was always very tricky for me.  It seemed almost impossible to position myself inside the pillow, which wrapped around my waist, insert a back support pillow behind, then balance one tiny, squirmy baby on a side while reaching for the second baby.  Then getting one latched, hoping the other didn't fall off the side of the pillow, getting hot and sweaty, trying to keep clothing out of the way, then doing it all again when the first baby stopped eating and needed to be "re-latched."  It was like a circus.  So, I rarely tandem nursed.
  • Other people bottle-feed babies, while you pump and/or sleep.  Self-explanatory.  One warning, however:  if you're serious about keeping up your milk supply, don't skip too many nursing or pumping sessions in order to rest.  

Eventually, my milk supply completely dried up and the boys became solely formula-fed.  This was bittersweet.  My parents had to go home when the boys were 2.5 months, and my husband was at work every day, so we quickly developed ways for just one person to feed two babies at a time.

When one person feeds the babies:

  • Tandem nurse.  See my description of the circus above!  But I know from first-hand accounts, reading online, books, etc., that this IS possible, and becomes easier with practice.  The "double-football hold" seems to be the most popular position.  The book  Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins and More! can be very helpful.  
  • Nurse one baby at a time.  Train babies to wait their turn while they lay nearby you, or adjust their schedules so that they eat one after the other.  Try and keep track of who nursed on which breast and alternate.  That way if one baby is a stronger breast-feeder, you will help to keep the milk supply somewhat more even on both sides.  This is, however, a more time consuming method.  
  • Prop babies on boppies for bottles (say that ten times fast).  You can lay them semi-sitting up and sit in front or between them on your bed, couch, or on on the floor.    
  • Put one baby in your lap, and another propped next to you, also for bottles.  I usually sat with my back against the headboard of a bed and bent my knees.  Then one baby could sit on my lap facing me    
A cheerful morning feeding!  

  • Place babies in seats, sit between them (again, for bottle feeds).  Sit so that you're facing the opposite direction the babies are facing, so that you can have your back supported by something.  Using the car seats was my mother-in-law's suggestion, and while it seemed so simple, it revolutionized the way we were feeding the babies!  I placed a towel or blanket under the babies to pad the seats more.  You could also use bouncy seats.  
Our favorite bottle-feeding position.  

In all of these scenarios, have bibs, burp cloths, bottles, remote, pillows, and anything else you think you’ll need for a feeding, ready and reachable.  Afterwards they took turns being burped.  Being on the floor had its advantages, because if one got sick of waiting around in the seat, I could put him on the floor and let him roll or wiggle to his heart’s content.  I spent a lot of time feeding, propped against our couch, watching Netflix.  It was about that time I developed my obsession with "Downton Abbey."

Spot the historical error in this Downton Abbey promo pic!  We were speaking of bottles...

If I wasn’t watching TV, I also could use this feeding time to pray, either silently or out loud, so the babies could hear my voice.  Sometimes I’d sing to them, or just sit and enjoy the silence.  Occasionally, I’d use it as an opportunity to verbalize what would happen that day, what needed to be done.  This was for my own sake; I figured if I said it out loud maybe I’d remember it!

Happy feeding!

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