At present, there’s limited information on the subject of breastfeeding while pregnant with twins. Part of my job as a nurse is to care and give advice to pregnant women. The same goes for their newborn babies and young children. This article discusses some of the issues that arise while breastfeeding while pregnant with twins.
Breastfeeding while pregnant with twins is possible if mom is not experiencing any complications during her pregnancy. A mother should take extra care as any other pregnancy. She should get sufficient rest, consume a nutritious diet, take the recommended prenatal vitamins and also keep well hydrated. However, each mother’s experience is different and will need to speak with her doctor for an individualized plan of care.
Each woman is different. It is essential she seeks advice that is specific to her condition from her doctor. We will discuss the common issues for a woman that is breastfeeding while pregnant with twins.
Breastfeeding while pregnant with twins
Deciding on whether to breastfeed while pregnant with twins can be a difficult decision for a mother. It’s important to discuss with your health care provider if you had any medical complications during your pregnancy. It can be a risk of pre-term labor and birth, high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. A pregnant mother may have to consider weaning her baby or toddler if ever she experiences uterine pain, bleeding or is having difficulty gaining the recommended weight during the pregnancy. The following topics are important to take into consideration when considering breastfeeding while pregnant with twins.
Looking after yourself
This is a must during this busy and challenging time. Make sure you rally around all family members and friends who can help. Get your partner to spend more time with your toddler, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. It will also help strengthen their bond. A mother should gain weight at the recommended rate along with a nutritious diet and to get sufficient rest. For some mothers, it may be necessary to consume extra calories while breastfeeding and pregnant with twins. Taking prenatal vitamin supplements and an increased intake of folic acid and iron may also be required as a precaution. Your doctor or dietitian will advise you on your personal nutrition needs.
Nutritional needs of your baby
If your baby is six months or under and exclusively breastfeeding, monitor their weight gain and development. It is important to ensure they are receiving adequate nutrition. They are too young at this stage to start solids so may need extra milk feeds. Toddlers and babies older than six months may prefer to increase or expand their solid food intake or have extra milk feeds.
Letting your toddler decide
Many mothers let their toddler determine whether they want to continue breastfeeding or not. There’ll be hormonal changes and a higher amount of colostrum in the later stages of pregnancy. It can result in a change in the taste of the breastmilk. This may not be palatable to the toddler. The child then may decide that they want to wean from the breast. They may also show an interest in other foods which can be a sign of decreased milk production. Some toddlers may want to recommence breastfeeding once mom has given birth.
Trust your own judgment
Some mothers may experience negative reactions from family, friends, and people in their community. It’s important that you stay positive and make the right decision for you and your children. Every mother’s experience and circumstance is different. Only you along with advice from your doctor can make the right choice. Some mothers can feel emotional discomfort such as a feeling of restlessness or irritation while nursing and pregnant. This can become more pronounced if mom is having twins especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Distractions can help such as reading a book, listening to music or watching TV.
Try to be flexible
If you plan to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, try to avoid having rigid expectations. This will put less pressure on you about how breastfeeding will go during the weeks and months ahead. This can be an unpredictable time. There are so many factors to take into account including the emotions and comfort levels of both mother and child. Flexibility, by preparing for a number of outcomes puts less pressure on mom. It will make breastfeeding during pregnancy a more positive experience.
This is one of the symptoms of pregnancy that can cause difficulty when feeding your baby or toddler. This will differ for each mother where they can notice it from before the start of their menstrual period. Some mothers will experience it during the later stages of pregnancy while others may not experience it at all. For mothers who are trying to breastfeed while experiencing nipple tenderness, there are a few ways that may make it easier.
This includes using breathing techniques which you would have been taught in childbirth classes. Ask and guide an older child to nurse more gently or for shorter periods of time. Hand-express enough milk to start the milk flowing before the child begins to nurse. A decrease in milk production sometimes causes nipple discomfort where your toddler may bite at the breast to extract more milk.
Twin Pregnancy Symptoms While Pregnant
Symptoms during pregnancy with twins are mostly the same as with a singleton only that they are more pronounced. These include the most common symptoms of breast tenderness, food cravings, morning sickness, and frequent urination.
Women pregnant with twins who have an average BMI usually do not have a significant amount of weight gain than women with singleton pregnancies. Weight gain is generally about 10 pounds more which mostly occurs in the later stages of pregnancy. Fatigue along with lethargy and exhaustion can be especially more pronounced. This is due to the body requiring extra energy to meet the growing demands of more than one baby. Measuring large for gestation age can also occur due to uterine stretching and increased fundal height.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Milk Supply
The hormones present during pregnancy can cause a decrease in the amount of milk produced. This usually happens during the last four months of pregnancy but can happen sooner. The composition of the milk also changes with an increase in colostrum. If your baby is gaining weight adequately for their age and nursing 3-4 times a day, there is no need for an extra source of milk. However, some mothers may find that their baby or toddler may want to eat more solids to make up for the decrease in milk supply.
Can Breastfeeding Cause Twins
There is not enough evidence to say that a woman is more likely to become pregnant with twins if she has also been breastfeeding at the time of conception. Although one study did suggest the chances were increased more research is needed to say this with certainty.
Genetics appears to have a more significant role to determine whether you will have twins or not, particularly on the maternal line. Other factors include women aged 35 and older, those who have undergone assisted conception and previous pregnancies where fraternal twins were born.
Can I get pregnant while exclusively breastfeeding
Yes, it is possible to get pregnant while exclusively breastfeeding. However, the chances of becoming pregnant are low if the LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method) method is followed. According to their guidelines, the LAM method can give approximately 98% protection from pregnancy during the first six months postpartum. This can only be effective under the following conditions :
- your periods have not yet returned
- you are not going longer than 4 hours feeding your baby during the day and 6 hours at night or supplementing regularly
- your baby is under six months old
This is not a commonly used method as only a small proportion of mothers breastfeed this frequently. Some also may not feel comfortable using this as a sole means of birth control. Many women feel more secure using a combination of exclusive breastfeeding and another contraceptive method such as condoms, IUD or the mini-pill.