The Benefits of Nighttime Sleep Support for Families with Twins

If you’re expecting twins or have them at home, you know getting a good night’s sleep in the first 12 weeks can be a challenge. An extra pair of hands or a sleep consultant will support you with staying on track with your circadian rhythm. 

Nighttime sleep support provides guidance and care to help you feel confident and empowered in supporting the sleep needs of your twins; from night wakings to feeding issues. 

With tailored guidance, flexible sleep plans, and predictable bedtime rituals, you will establish healthy sleep habits and manage sleep associations and disruptions. 

night doula

Parents with twins often experience unique challenges when it comes to sleep.

  • Twins may have different sleep schedules and soothing needs, which makes it challenging for you to establish a consistent sleep routine.
  • Additionally, twins may wake each other up during the night, leading to disrupted sleep for you and the babies.
  • These challenges may be exacerbated by factors such as colic, reflux, or other medical issues that are more common in premature or low birth weight twins.

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Breastfeeding Premature Twins

Breastfeeding Premature Twins

Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC

As mothers of preemies, we learn that our breastmilk is the perfect food for our babies.

Within hours of giving birth, we are encouraged to begin pumping, so our babies will benefit from our milk. The breastmilk of preemie mothers has special nutrients, is easier to digest, and can reduce the risk of infections.

Although breastfeeding is a natural physiological process, it’s not always intuitive or easy to get our babies latched and nursing.

For mothers of premature twins, it is especially challenging. Often babies become more familiar with bottles in the NICU. While their mothers, in turn, become well acquainted with their hospital-grade double electric pump.

Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC is a U.K. based Lactation Consultant, certified through the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants. She is also an expert in supporting breastfeeding mothers with multiples.

What makes her unique is, in addition to her professional experience as an IBCLC, she successfully breastfed, and tandem nursed her twin boys.

A while back, I interviewed Kathryn, about nursing twins, this time she’s here to offer guidance for breastfeeding premature twins.

Breastfeeding Premature Twins

Breastfeeding Premature TwinsCould you share your advice for a twin mom who plans to breastfeed and knows her babies are going to be born prematurely? How should she prepare, before, and after the babies are born?

If she has some warning and her health professionals think it’s safe to do so, she could do some antenatal hand expressing and collect the colostrum. This would give her a head start.

What would you recommend for a twin mom whose babies arrive unexpectedly premature, and she didn’t have time to prepare for breastfeeding ahead of time. If she only has the energy to do one thing while her babies are in the NICU, what should it be?

She should be supported to hand express her colostrum preferably within an hour after birth, but certainly within 6 hours after birth. Then to try to hand express every 2-3 hours from then on. Once her milk begins to come in she can move on to a hospital grade pump and continue to express every 2-3, not leaving it longer than 4 hours overnight.

After the Birth

Breastfeeding TwinsWhat should mom do if it’s been 2 or 3 days since her babies were born, and she’s pumping every 3 hours, and she’s just getting drops?

If babies are stable enough for kangaroo care this can really help. Massaging the breast before and during the pumping session can help massively. Having photos of babies, a video, some clothes, or a blanket that smells of them can really help. And trying to relax, not watching amounts, listening to music, watching comedy, chatting to friends or family can improve. Ensuring the pump is efficient (a hospital grade pump is recommended) and that the cones fit correctly will have an impact on yield. If milk volume continues to be low then exploring whether there is a medical issue for this would be a good plan.

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sleeping twin babies

Advice on Breastfeeding Twins from Lactation Consultant and Twin Mom Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC

Kathryn Stagg, IBCLC, is a UK-based Lactation Consultant certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Her philosophy, as she puts it, empowers and enables mums to fulfill and surpass their breastfeeding goals with factual, evidence based information and emotional support. With these tools, women are amazing and can overcome unimaginable difficulties.Breastfeeding Twins

Thirteen years ago, Kathryn received such great breastfeeding support after welcoming her twins, she decided to become an IBCLC. She now runs a website and Facebook page dedicated to helping nursing mothers of multiples.

In my own work as a postpartum doula, I’ve seen many well-prepared mothers of twins struggle with breastfeeding for various reasons. Many of the available breastfeeding books are written from the perspective of nursing a singleton, and it can take more effort to find resources focused on breastfeeding multiples.

It’s rare to encounter a Lactation Consultant who also successfully breastfed her own twins. I interviewed Kathryn so she can share her first hand knowledge and advice about breastfeeding twins.

Breastfeeding Twins

Q: I have worked with moms of twins who compare their breastfeeding experience to what they’ve read in general breastfeeding books or what they’ve witnessed with friends who have one baby. How is breastfeeding twins different from breastfeeding a singleton?

A: The actual act of breastfeeding is the same, no matter how many babies you have. The latch still has to be the same, and in order to make enough milk it is important for the babies to remove the milk frequently and effectively, just as it is with one baby. The main difference is that there are two babies! But also twin babies tend to be smaller and are often born early, not normally born after 38 weeks and often before. This impacts how easily they will be able to breastfeed, and can make the early days quite challenging, as they can be sleepy and difficult to wake for feeds.

Q: What are the time demands to exclusively breastfeed twins?

A: Basically expect to spend the first 6 to 8 weeks breastfeeding a lot. If mom prefers to breastfeed separately, breastfeeding can be pretty time consuming until the babies become more efficient later. If moms can manage to get tandem feeding going this helps massively as it can halve the time it takes! Once the babies become more efficient when they’re a few months old, breastfeeding can be really quick.

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