Breastfeeding twins can take a lot of patience, dedication and time, but there are many advantages to persevering.
It is vitally important that you look after yourself while breastfeeding twins and ensure you are getting enough of the right nutrients to maintain your health and the health of your babies.
You might be surprised at the level of extra energy required to feed such tiny humans, but remember that you are also recovering from a major health event yourself, so not only is your own body recovering, you are nourishing two growing babies as well.
I am sure you are aware of the amazing benefits that breastfeeding has for your babies, but did you know the incredible benefits to you aswell?
The benefits for your babies
- Breastmilk has the best balance of nutrients for your babies and adjusts to suit the specific needs of each baby.
- Breastmilk contains antibodies to help babies fight infections and can lower the risk of them developing food allergies.
- Breastfeeding can lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome as well as the risk of obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
- Lower risk of complications if your babies are premature.
The benefits for you
Breastfeeding lowers your risk of both breast and ovarian cancers and osteoarthritis and it can help to shift any excess weight put on during pregnancy. It can also help with bonding with your babies which can often take longer with twins.
Will I have enough milk?
This is a common concern among mothers about to breastfeed twins or triplets. The supply of milk adjusts to the demand. Mothers feeding twins or triplets can produce enough milk for their babies if breastfeeding and expressing regularly. The more you breastfeed or express, the more adequate your milk supply will be. Information on expressing is available from midwifery nursing staff. To produce this extra supply of milk you will need to eat more food and drink more fluids than usual.
How much extra?
You will need approximately 500 to 600 kcals per baby, each day. This is on top of the amount you would eat before you were pregnant. Twins – 1000 to 1200 kcal Triplets – 1500 to 1800 kcal Quads – 2000 to 2400 kcal This may mean eating six to eight times a day. Include foods high in protein and calcium such as milk, yoghurt, cheese. (See below for how to get extra calcium.) Your nutrient needs are very high, so make every food you eat count by choosing nutritious foods at all meal and snack times, instead of junk food.
How much is 500 to 600 kcal?
100 kcal snacks
- 1 banana
- 1 cup fruit salad
- 10 dried apricots
- 14 cashews/almonds/hazelnuts
- 1 slice of bread
- 2 small eggs
- Slice of cheese
- 2 large sushi pieces
- Frozen yoghurt (small tub)
- 2 Weet-Bix with milk
- ½ can baked beans
- 200 ml milk
200 kcal snacks
- 1 muesli bar or muffin
- ½ cup Greek yoghurt or 1 cup fruit yoghurt
- 200 mL fruit and yoghurt smoothie
- 2 scoops ice cream
- 1 cup light muesli with milk
- 1 cup rice, pasta or pasta salad
- Small bread bun filled with ham and cheese
- Large baked potato with light sour cream
- 1 piece of toast topped with cheese and tomato
- 3 crackers with avocado
- Flavoured milk product, such as Up&Go, CalciYum, Milo
Vegetarian and vegan mothers
Ensure you eat two to three serves of protein – rich foods a day, such as eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, cheese, yoghurt, milk, or soy or rice milk. Nuts can be included for one serve a day. One protein serve =
- 1 egg or 2 slices of cheese
- Pottle of yoghurt or glass of milk
- ¾ cup beans, lentils or tofu
- ½ cup of nuts
If you avoid milk products, alternative calcium sources are calcium – fortified soy or rice milks. However, you will still need a calcium supplement (600-1000mg) to top you up if you are not having four to five serves of these each day. If avoiding meat and dairy you are probably not getting any vitamin B12. This is very important for healthy growth and development, and the babies need to get this through your milk. Talk to your GP or dietitian about getting a vitamin B12 supplement.
Vitamins and minerals
Even if you are eating well, you may need some vitamin and mineral supplements while you are breastfeeding. Iron May be recommended by your midwife/doctor to build up your iron stores after delivery. Iodine is recommended for all breastfeeding mothers to help their babies’ brain development. Ask your midwife or GP for a prescription. Note some multivitamins already have iodine in them. Check the label. Multivitamin and mineral supplement To top you up on any nutrients you may not be getting enough of in your food. Calcium You may need a supplement if you eat little or no milk, cheese or yoghurt. See below for details.
Calcium in the breast milk is important for the growth and formation of your babies’ bones. Your calcium needs while breastfeeding are similar to those for pregnancy. The best sources are:
- Low-fat dairy foods, especially those that have been calcium enriched.
- Fish with edible bones, such as canned salmon and sardines.
- Soy milk, rice milk or tofu that has been fortified with calcium.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Dark green leafy vegetables.
How to get your calcium
- Breastfeeding twins: Aim for four to five serves a day.
- Breastfeeding triplets: Aim for five to six serves a day.
*Each serve = 200mg calcium One serve* of calcium equates to:
- Calci Trim milk 100 mL
- Trim milk 150 mL
- Yoghurt 1 pottle (150 g)
- Cheese 2 slices (26 g)
- High-calcium cheese slices – 1 slice
- Sardines x 3 (36g)
- Canned salmon – 2 small tins (200 g)
- Soy milk 150 mL
- Rice milk 150 mL
- Ice cream 1 cup
- Muesli with nuts ¾ cup
- Broccoli 1½ cups
- Tofu 200 g (15 pieces)
- Almonds ½ cup
Will altering my diet while breastfeeding prevent food allergies?
Restricted diets are not recommended and are difficult to maintain. If your babies do not have a family history of allergies, do not restrict these foods in your diet. The best way to avoid allergies is by breastfeeding your babies or providing expressed breast milk instead of formula, ensuring first foods are introduced around six months and avoiding cigarette smoke. Current New Zealand guidelines are that first foods (such as infant cereals, puréed vegetables or meat) should be introduced one at a time when your babies are 6 months old. Breastfeeding while introducing these foods also helps to protect against allergies.
You may find you get very thirsty.
- Drink to your thirst but try to have at least 12 cups of fluid a day including some milk and/or juice.
- Have a snack and a drink ready before you start feeding your babies. Having a drink yourself every time you breastfeed or express is a good way to remember to have enough fluids.
- Take a large glass or bottle of water with you to bed for during the night.
- Avoid alcohol. If you want to have a drink you will need to express and discard your breast milk for at least an hour afterwards for each standard drink you have. You will need enough previously expressed breast milk to feed your baby over this time. NOTE: The choice to drink alcohol during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is up to each individual. At Twins & More we encourage you to abstain from any alcohol during this very important time in your babies development.
Sourced from: HealthInfo Canterbury, Canterbury District Health Board, Breastfeeding twins and triplets, July 2014.