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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS

Feeding twins

It can be daunting when you first arrive home with your new baby, especially if you are caring for twins or more. Splitting your time and energy between two or more newborn babies can easily be overwhelming. The best way to cope with caring for twins is to develop a routine that suits you.

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed your babies, you need to create a routine. Some mothers feed both babies at the same time; some prefer to feed one after the other, while others feed on demand, whenever the babies seem hungry.

You will need to adapt your method according to your babies’ needs. For example, if one baby is smaller than the other and needs to feed more often, you won’t be able to feed them at the same time initially. If you want, you can work towards bringing their feeding routines together as they grow.

It is possible to breastfeed twins and, in some cases, triplets. Many are breastfed until they are weaned. The advantages of breast milk for your babies are the same as for single babies. However, as multiple babies are more likely to be born prematurely, there are even more benefits to breastfeeding. Breast milk is better for premature babies as their gut is immature and it’s easier for them to tolerate and digest breast milk.

Formula feeding may be necessary in combination with breastfeeding if you have triplets or more, or you may choose to only formula feed your babies.

Weaning

When your babies are around six months old, you can begin to wean them by introducing solid foods. It’s not unusual for one baby to be ready to begin weaning before the other, so let your babies dictate when you start to wean them. Unless one of your babies has a serious infection, it’s safe for them to share spoons and bowls as they will be exposed to the same germs. #

Blog - Expressing for premature twins

"Rory James and Freddie Joe (identical twins) were born on 09/03/2012 at 32 weeks by C-Section at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Newcastle. Rory weighed 1lb14oz and Freddie weighed 3lb8oz, so both were on the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and tube fed. On 22nd March, Rory and Freddie were transferred back to Carlisle Infirmary.

"Through my previous employment, part of my role was to support and liaise with breastfeeding peer support workers, midwives and health visitors. When I fell pregnant, breastfeeding was something that I really wanted to do, as the information and advice that I learned from the breastfeeding peer support workers, midwives and health visitors was invaluable. It really highlighted how beneficial breast milk is to new born babies and in particular premature twins.

"Expressing for premature twins was and still is very hard, especially when they were away from me on the Special Care Baby Unit. I was very determined to give them the best start in life and with this in mind I continue to express for them now. Expressing provides Rory and Freddie’s dad to also feed and bond with them and takes the stress off myself of having to feed them both, sometimes at the same time. When expressing for twins, I express every 3 to 4 hours in order to get enough to feed both boys and it does take up a lot of time in the day, however the benefits towards my 2 boys far outweigh the negatives.

"Whilst I was at the RVI the SCBU staff provided me with an electrical breast pump, whilst I stayed in Crawford House (hospital accommodation) and other equipment I needed to express whilst the boys were on the ward. When the boys were transferred to Carlisle SCBU, the staff also provided me with the equipment I needed to express whilst at home and were all very supportive and encouraging me to continue to express. At times I did feel like giving up but the support I was given from staff, my partner and family encouraged me to continue and the happiness and closeness I feel with my boys knowing that I have given them a better start in life with my milk is over whelming.

"Breast milk to truly the best thing you can give your newborn child not only for the child’s benefits but parents benefits too; its free, it uses up to 500 calories a day and lowers the risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer too." 

Pamela Armstrong, Aspatria