Focus on breastfeeding

By Hazel Meyer

I have been working with Twickenham Twins Club for a few months now, hoping to expand my understanding of the challenges of breastfeeding more than one baby, and I am still in awe of how well you all cope and how open you are to help and advice.

I have come to realise that the crisis of confidence that often mothers feeding singletons experience, is even more profound when attempting to breastfeed multiples.  This is especially true when it comes to mothers trusting the adequacy of their milk supply. This is made worse by the fact that you feel like you have to produce enough milk for two (or more) babies. And for a lot of you, with premature babies, your confidence may have been further undermined by them having to be fed formula in the early days and not have a chance to initiate breastfeeding until later as you dealt with health issues or an inability for the baby to latch on and suck.

Not the greatest cocktail for success and why so many mums, without the right support and advice do not manage to successfully breastfeed!  And with this comes the guilt that we as mums so easily embrace.

There is so much I’d like to say to encourage you but I thought I’d focus for a few minutes on milk supply and how it all works to give you a little confidence booster.

So how does it all work?

During pregnancy and the first few days after babies are born, milk production is hormonally driven and will happen whether or not a baby is breastfed. As long as the right hormones are in place, mum will start to make colostrum.

After this there is a switch to the autocrine (or local) control system where milk production is controlled at the breast and milk removal becomes the most important factor.  A small whey protein in the milk slows down milk production when the breast is full. In addition a fuller breast has less receptor sites for the hormone prolactin that is also needed for milk synthesis.

In other words, the more your babies feed, the more feedback your body gets to produce sufficient milk for them.





How can you tell if your babies are getting enough milk?

If you are brave enough to more towards exclusive breastfeeding, you may feel panicked without the safety of being able to measure their intake that bottle feeding brings. We are modern women and we like things to be ordered and measurable and it may be very scary to lose that control.

However, your babies are great communicators and they can tell you so much if you learn to listen. If your babies are producing enough wet nappies and appropriate bowel movements for their age and are gaining weight you can relax, take a deep breath and enjoy them.

Some more confidence builders

Even if the above indicators are good, you may still be anxious.  It may be helpful to make sure that you know what normal behaviour is for a baby. Babies do feed frequently, are fussy at times and sometimes have growth spurts and feed more often!   After your milk comes in it is normal for babies to breastfeed at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, with feeds approximately spaced 2 or 3 hours apart but sometimes closer together. It might feel like you are feeding all the time but it does not mean that you are not producing enough milk.

What if your babies’ nappy count or weight gain indicates that they are not getting enough milk?

It is thought that only one or two percent of mothers worldwide are physically unable to produce milk. Women with all kinds of breast sizes and shapes have fully breastfed twins and multiples. So don’t lose confidence in your body’s ability to meet the demands placed on it. Insufficient milk production is normally related to infrequent or inadequate milk removal rather than the physical ability of a mother to produce enough milk.

You can increase your milk supply within several days by:

  • Make sure your babies are feeding efficiently – remember the supply and demand rule. If they are not adequately removing milk then you will not be producing enough. Make sure you get some help from someone who knows about breastfeeding to help you correct any latch or sucking issues
  • Feed more frequently – you might have to wake up sleeping babies to get them to feed more often or give up trying to get them on a schedule for a while
  • If you are relying on pumping your breasts or combining breastfeeding with pumping, make sure you have the right equipment and that you have a good pumping routine
  • Have lots of skin to skin contact with your babies
  • If at all possible have a “breastfeeding honeymoon” and go to bed with your babies for a day and allow unlimited access to the breast
  • Try offer both breasts at each feeding
  • Take care of yourself and see if you can get some help so you can focus on the breastfeeding
  • Consider a galactagogue – a substance that increases your milk supply such as herb or prescription medication

I hope I have managed to give you a few tips that will help you with breastfeeding your multiples!  Remember breastfeeding is largely a confidence game and the majority of women produce enough milk to sustain their babies.  Make sure that you have a good support network around you that will give you positive and accurate advice and enjoy these precious moments with your babies, knowing that you are giving them the best possible start to life!

If you have any questions about this article or breastfeeding in general please don’t hesitate to get hold of me.

Hazel Meyer

07970 745 485