The choice of whether to breastfeed or not is highly controversial. There is a massive push, both within the NHS and publicly, to encourage breastfeeding. However, do the reasons to breastfeed apply to twins?
We take a look at some aspects that may affect your own decision, and reflect on the choice we made ourselves.
The benefits of breastfeeding
First we have to acknowledge that breast milk is superior to formula. It provides benefits for your babies, such as:
- protection from infections and diseases
- lower risk of long-term illnesses and obesity
- lower risk of having asthma or allergies
It also provides benefits for the mother such as:
- lowers your own risk of disease
- burns calories
- builds a close bond
Put bluntly, breast milk is the perfectly designed by nature to feed your newborns.
Feeds for newborns feed roughly 8-10 hours per day, so every 2-3 hours. Breastfeeding can take 15 to 45 minutes per feed. This is then doubled as you have 2 newborns to feed. If you do some quick maths you’ll see that newborn breastfeeding will take up most of your day!
To help, you can express milk. This takes around 15 minutes to 45 minutes with a pump. This way your partner can assist with feeds. Again, though, the time to express the milk will have to be taken into account along with the feed time.
Additionally, newborns are sleepy things! They often fall asleep during feeds which can increase the times given above.
There was a time when breastfeeding was considered something to be done in private. Thankfully this has changed, and nowadays breastfeeding is accepted and encouraged in public. Many public businesses, such as cafes and restaurants, support breastfeeding at their premises.
There can be pain involved with breastfeeding. This can come in many forms such as sore nipples, tenderness and infection. There are many gels, breast shields and other aids that can help relieve pain associated with breastfeeding. Twins of course add further workload when breastfeeding, so this potentially can lead to more pain.
Sagging of the breasts can also occur more from breastfeeding. Although this is a purely aesthetic element, we felt it relevant to add. Do note though, that a certain amount of breast sagging happens anyway, whether you breastfeed or not.
We personally felt this ourselves. The NHS and midwives really encourage breastfeeding, but it often came across close to ‘force’ at times. Being told that you won’t be doing the best for your twins if you do not breastfeed can make you feel pretty guilty. This is echoed from many websites and supporters of breastfeeding.
You should never be made to feel guilty. Always read up on the facts, talk to other mums and listen to your instincts. Yes, breastfeeding is excellent, but do what is right for you and your own family.
We didn’t breastfeed our twins. Amy (mum) had planned to but in the end we decided against it. Our main reasons were these:
- James (dad) can help make bottles and feed
- We considered the time it would take
- Amy (mum) spoke with her own Mum and got some advice
If we had a single baby, Amy would have 100% breastfed. However, twins added a complexity that we felt was too great to ignore. Twins require a significant amount of effort and the best way we saw to meet that requirement was to do it as a team. Breastfeeding would have meant much more focus on Amy.
If you are considering whether you should breastfeed your twins, we would emphasise talking to other parents of twins. Social media is great for twin groups. Twins are very different from single babies, so be sure to get advice from those that have twins. Lastly, make up your own mind. There is no right or wrong, despite what anyone tells you. Do what is right for you and your family.
As an additional note: Should you choose to use formula, ensure you make the midwives at the hospital aware of your choice when you go into labour. Breastfeeding is the ‘default’ option. You will also need to bring your own milk with you.
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