Breastfeeding twins can be twice the challenge initially, but it can also be twice the convenience in the longer term. Breast milk is far more convenient and formula for two babies is very expensive, so it's worth getting breastfeeding working.
Many twins are born smaller and may also be premature and this can change your initial experience, but once your babies are able to latch on it is worth spending some time getting used to tandem feeding.
Above all, ask for help as often as you need to in the early days and don't put up with sore nipples without seeking guidance on how to improve the problem.
This first video shows breastfeeding twins latched on in a football hold (the most common position for breastfeeding twins) The baby on the left is latched on well, with their nose well clear of the breast. The baby on the right is not. Her nose is touching the breast and her head is tilted forward. Her lips aren't splayed out and she is complaining because she is uncomfortable and not getting as much milk as her sibling.
Newborns take around 45-60 minutes to feed. When you're breastfeeding twins you won't have the luxury of being able to stand up and get something you've forgotten because you won't be able to manoeuvre two newborns and your feeding pillow etc. Make sure you go to the toilet first and get yourself some water, then put everything in place first.
You'll need to be comfortable to make this successful in the long term so make sure you have a good amount of back support. You may need quite a thick, tall cushion to support you. When you use the football hold which is the most common position for breastfeeding twins, their legs will begin to stick out further as they grow so a larger backrest for you means you will have their feet further from the back of the chair.
You will also want to make sure you have your breastfeeding pillow and any extra pillows such as one to support your back and one to raise your babies a little higher close by. If you are planning to place your babies on boppy pillows while you set up you'll need these too.
When breastfeeding twins initially you also need to stabilise one on your breastfeeding pillow while you attach the other. Wraps are useful for this so make sure they are in position also. You'll need some burp cloths also.
Many mothers choose to sit cross legged when breastfeeding twins because it offers more support for your breastfeeding pillow and can help you feel more comfortable through your lower back. This is ideal for every back though so play around with your sitting position to see what works best for you. If you do choose to sit like this make sure the chair or surface you will sit on is wide enough to do this comfortably.
Depending on your nipple height compared to your back length may need extra pillow to get your babies to right height. You will be able to tell when you first place your babies on the breastfeeding pillow. If you have to slouch to get your nipples down far enough for their mouths then you will need a pillow to make yourself more comfortable. For good milk supply it is really important to get yourself comfortable so it's worth getting this right from the beginning.
To latch a baby on well in any position you will need their nose in line with your nipple. This means their head will tilt back a little and that will open their mouths wider. As you won't have your second hand so easily available when breastfeeding twins, try to get this placement right before you try to latch your babies.
When they are very young, most babies will need some support to maintain a latch. For this reason it can be easier to get your babies both on the pillow before you try to attach them so you don't twist so much after attaching the first one. This does not work for everyone though. If you choose to latch on one baby and then place the other on the pillow, it can be easier to have the baby who is still on the couch on the same side as the first baby to be attached so you don't twist your nipple away while you pick up the second baby.
This can be quite challenging in the early days of breastfeeding twins. Some mothers choose to use a rolled up wrap behind their babies backs. Another option is to place a wrap underneath each baby and then bring the corner up over the baby and tuck it into your bra strap. This is good for stabilisation and if placed well can also give you some privacy if you're out in public.
Another option to help you feel comfortable that your babies aren't going to fall and hurt themselves during the setting up and finishing of the feed is to sit on the floor. If you choose to do this make sure you have a comfortable surface to lean against. A large pillow against your couch can be good. The ideal position for your spine when sitting is not 90 degrees as it would be if you leant against a wall, so try to pad out your bottom from the surface you are leaning against.
If you do choose to use the couch or your bed to sit on during the feed, the best position for your babies whilst off the pillow is with their heads towards the back of the couch or the centre of the bed so that they don't roll off.
See the Breastfeeding Positions page for more general information about getting each position right.
Football or Underarm Hold
This is the most common position to use for breastfeeding twins, particularly when the babies are newborn as you have good control over their bodies. Make sure in this position your back is supported away from the backrest of your couch so your babies have room for their legs.
One Cradle One Football
If one of your babies doesn't feed well from one side you may choose to keep a breast specifically for each baby, but if you'd like to switch them over you can try using a cradle hold on the non preferred side to see if the latch is better this way. Your other baby will be in the football hold.
Both Cradle, One on Top
This can be awkward but good to know about if you are having lots of trouble with a good latch in the football hold while breastfeeding twins. This may be better done without your breastfeeding pillow so that the twin underneath is lower, and more sitting on your lap, not being as squashed by the one on top. In this way you may end up with the top baby on a 45 degree angle down your body and the bottom in nearly an upright position. This can be good if either baby is experiencing reflux.
Both babies straddle your thigh with their bodies facing yours in this position. Excellent if you have very refluxy babies. If you try this while your babies are still very young you may find that they don't support themselves well enough and you have to have your arms in an awkward straight position. If this is the case try sitting in a reclining chair or propped on your bed in a 45 degree angle. This way your body will support your babies (you will need a loose skirt or trousers to do this in public).
Both Sitting on Your Lap
Once your babies are a little longer they may sit on your lap easily and reach the breast. This is a very comfortable way to breastfeed twins while you are out in public. Each baby sits on the thigh on the side they are feeding from with their legs dangling through to the centre (you will need a very loose skirt or trousers on if you try this hold).
Some babies breastfeed every hour or 2, some every 3 or 4. Don't be stressed by how often, adults all have different frequencies, why shouldn't babies? What you do want if possible is to get your babies feeding at the same time as each other, particularly overnight.
Breastfeeding twins at the same time is useful, particularly in the beginning, as they take 45-60 mins to feed as newborns. Some mothers choose to wake the sleepy or more settled one to feed at same time as hungry or harder to settle baby. This is great if it works for you. If you have one baby who is particularly unsettled though you may wish to learn some other calming techniques such as using a carrier, using a pacifier, bouncing or walking with your baby. You will know what is right at the time.
Babies are continually evolving and so will you as a family unit. Be ready to shift with those changes, allowing your breastfeeding schedule to change with them. Many mothers choose to breastfeed at the same time initially and then separately if one baby is sick. Some mothers like to have at least one breastfeed a day as a single feeding, while others like the convenience of only ever tandem feeding.
Your body is primed by the extra load of hormones and the extra sucking that happens from breastfeeding twins and your milk supply need not be a problem just because you have twins. Your breasts make more milk if more is removed, so try to avoid topping up with formula if possible, however if you need to, try to pump at that same time to stimulate your breast to make milk at that time.
If you do need to supplement, always try breastfeeding before formula. Much less expensive in long term, you will also keep your supply higher by offering your breast at every feed. In these cases offer a smaller amount of formula after you have finished the breastfeed.
If you'd like to increase your supply there are several things you can try:
If there's pain in your nipples or breast during the feed the latch may be poor or you may have thrush, see the sore nipples page for more information.
Usually sore nipples are due to a poor latch. Get as much help as you need to correct the latch as the initial few months. A good latch helps your babies get more milk and they will be less fussy at the breast.