Tandem breastfeed – What works for me

Tandem Breastfeed

Before you dive in… note, when I tandem breastfeed this usually works for me and maybe once or twice a day I do this. I don’t alway use all these things at the same time. Take what you will… If you can only take one take “patience”.

What you’ll need:

Happy place to tandem breastfeed

Find a comfortable, familiar place in the house. I have two spots. The babies room where I use a rocking chair from Ikea and the corner of the couch which I prefer during the day.

I use the babies room at night to tandem breastfeed. Mostly because it’s on the same floor as our bedroom and I don’t have to go far. It works right now because the babies sleep in our room, so if I’m only nursing one at the time I won’t disturb the other (not that it matters because they sleep through each other’s cries and sounds).

The living room is a central part of our house and where I spend most of the day. So naturally I’ve commandeered a corner of the couch where I tandem breastfeed throughout the day.

Nursing pillow

The Boppy pillow seems to be the most popular, especially for feeding a singleton, however I recommend MyBrestFriend for singleton and twins. It provides more support for your back and has a wider base for twins especially.

Snap your pillow around you and settle in. You could be there 10 minutes. You could be there for hours.

Thing One and Thing Two

This is a bit obvious… however the key is to make sure you have two hungry babies. If you try force feeding your baby at anytime they will just scream.

To tell if they’re hungry look to see if they’re sticking out their tongue over and over and over again. I call this clucking. My two each make a clicking sound as they do it. If either are attached to a pacifier they may use this same method to show they want to pacify rather than eat so to make sure they’re hungry stick your pinky, finger print up, inside their mouth. If they start sucking hard they are hungry.

Place each baby within arms reach, either in front of you side by side, or one on each side. If you find only one of them is hungry, I still recommend keeping baby number two in arms reach because that could change and you don’t want to stop baby A, remove baby A, get up and completely reset. You’ll trade one crying baby for another.

Sit down either in front of them or between them, snap your pillow in place, and relocate one baby at a time on to the pillow. At night, I like to strip babies down to their diapers and curl their bodies into mine for skin to skin. They tandem breastfeed more efficiently and fall asleep better when done. When fully clothed at night they tend to fall sleep mid feed then wake up 10 minutes later hungry.

Sustenance

You’re probably used to having a bottle of water follow you around since you were pregnant, however once you start taking care of babies you forget about your needs. Your needs have to come first, because if you’re not at your best then everything (especially breastfeeding) can go haywire.

I keep a basket of goodies next to both my feeding spots. It’s always in arms reach with everything I need to breastfeed. See what I keep in my basket.

Before I start nursing, I take the time to eat and drink t.

After I’m in position with the pillow and babies (before they latch), I hydrate and have an energy bar. Even if babies are screaming they’re heads off, I take the time to make this happen because if I don’t then my flow slows down and babies get upset that they’re not getting milk fast enough or at all.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Before, during, and after.

Ambience

Once babies are latched and depending on which location I’m at, I do something for myself to keep me relaxed. If in the living room I’ll watch a favorite show. Right now I’m rewatching Gilmore Girls.

For the babies room, I purchased an iHome Alarm Clock for several reasons:

      Time: I need to have some idea on how long they’re taking.
      Light: This particular clock lights up providing enough for me to see and get situated, but not enough to over stimulate babies.
      Audio: This is THE perfect time to catch up on some reading. Grab that book you’ve been meaning to read on audio (from the library is best) and listen while you tandem breastfeed. It’s great for you and baby.

It’s important to have a soothing element whether a TV show, movie, music, or audiobook. It keeps you relaxed which keeps your milk flowing.

Just breathe

I’ve been taking a mommy and baby yoga class. At the start of each class, like all yoga classes, we begin with breathing. At our first class I was nursing Baby Girl and during the breathing exercises I noticed I had several let downs back to back.

Once home, I was nursing Elliot and noticed he was getting agitated because my milk flow slowed down. I sat up straighter, held him closer, and began using my yoga breathing. Sure enough I had a let down, and then another, and then another. He settled down with eyes closed and nice long gulps.

Feel the love

Oxitocin is the hormone that makes you love. It’s the same one that caused your labor. It’s also the hormone that produces your milk. If you find either of your babies are falling asleep or they are super agitated because they’re not getting milk fast enough you may want to find a way to release this hormone to cause a let down.

I use memories. Really strong powerful ones about my love for my husband or my babies. I’ll use my own personal “pensieve” and revisit and the moment we said, “I do” or when I gave birth and my husband and I realized we just became a family.

I have caused quite the let down when I do this, but it takes time and patience and if you have crying children it can be difficult to relax enough to make this happen. Know ahead a time if you’re going to need this. You should have an idea on how long it takes for the babies to drink your initial supply. A few minutes before that time hits, make sure you’re relaxed, practice your breathing, and conjure up one of those powerful memories.

Muster all the patience you can

For me, the hardest part in tandem nursing twins is making sure they have enough to eat. I feed Baby Girl solely on breast. She won’t take a bottle easily. So my body only produces enough for her. In those moments when they’re both hungry and I’m on my own I settle into my spot, turn on my favorite show, make sure I’m hydrated and fed, then curl my babies to me and tandem breastfeed. Around the 10 minute mark they start to get agitated as things slow down, so at eight minutes I start my breathing and conjure up an powerful memory and sure enough my milk keeps flowing as it has been. I’ll continue my yoga breathing until their both done.

Feeding twins feels impossible no matter which route you take… nursing both intermittently or at the same time, nursing one and bottle feeding the other, bottle feeding both. No matter what you do you feel like a feeding machine and like they’ll never be satiated. They’re either attached to you or you’re attached to a pump or you’re just constantly making bottles.

Everyone says it gets easier. At the end of the day you’re in this moment it feels likes it’s never going to let up… or down.

This process usually works for me. But not all the time. Sometimes Baby Boy just wants a bottle because he’ll feel full faster and there’s just no fighting him. Don’t force them. Don’t fight them. It’s already too hard and too exhausting. In those moments, take babies off of you, set them down somewhere safe, walk away and take a breath.

Depending on time of day I’ll reset the babies. I’ll go for a walk, give them a bath, or call a neighbor to come over and hold and feed one while I feed the other. Forcing babies to tandem breastfeed when you’re in it alone and things aren’t going well is only frustrating for both you and babies… don’t hope things will get better. Switch things up.

Get comfortable, hydrated, and fed. Practice your breathing and feel the love. And above all be patient with your body and babies.

All my best,

Kerry

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