When you find out you are having twins, triplets or more, one of the main concerns most people have is “how will I feed them all at the same time”? Regardless of if you are breast or bottle feeding, sometimes feeding multiples separately is the more practical option.
10 reasons why feeding multiples separately may be the best option for your family
1. You don’t enjoy it. It’s too hard. It’s uncomfortable.
Don’t feel bad. If you don’t like it, then don’t do it.
If you are breastfeeding and you find you need a second person there to pass you another baby to get them onto the pillow, or if you find that you are having to prop your feeding pillow up with lots of other pillows or you are constantly in fear that one of the babies will fall off or you are getting sore from hunching over, then consider feeding them separately. Maybe you are finding it awkward and tandem feeding is causing you stress and you start to dread each feed? Or you are feeling like a milking cow or maybe you simply find it easier to latch each baby separately. There is no rule book when it comes to having multiples. You need to do what is best for you and your family. Feeding multiples separately may be the better option for you. And there is nothing that says that you have to do the same thing each time.
If bottle feeding, you may be concerned about burping all babies at once. Or being able to monitor their feeds all at once.
Sometimes multiples are very different sizes and have different needs. If one is larger than the other, or sleeps more than the other, or one has a lot of wind issues and takes a long time to burp, or is hungrier than the other you may find multiples separately and on their individual schedule is easier.
It’s not just negative reasons why you may consider feeding multiples separately. If your babies are quick and efficient feeders then feeding separately is not a problem. Or maybe you simply prefer to feed them individually. Or maybe you have triplets and need to ‘rotate’ the babies around.
2. You enjoy spending the one on one time with your babies
The bonding process is important. If you feel like you are a just a jersey cow and that you aren’t spending quality time with your babies, then consider feeding multiples separately. One mum told Twinfo that “I loved the feeling of feeding them separately and didn’t particularly enjoy feeding them together. Occasionally it was great for efficiency but in the whole I fed them separately”.
3. Nothing is set in concrete
If everything is going pear shaped – and let’s be honest, if often does with multiples, then there is nothing stopping you doing a tandem feed (breast or bottle) if necessary. Sometimes you may find that you have several screaming babies, and a tandem feed may be the best way to comfort them. Others may find that it’s easier to tandem feed at certain times of the day (i.e. the first feed when they are all hungry, or overnight so you get more sleep, or if you have a really strong let down as you haven’t fed for a few hours as you were out. There are no rules. Do what works for you.
If you are breastfeeding, you may decide that once they are older, stronger, and less wriggly, have established breastfeeding and in they are in more of a routine to try tandem feeding again.
4. Distracting the baby/babies not being fed
The older they become the more efficient feeders they are, so this phase won’t last forever, regardless of if you are breast or bottle feeding them. It won’t be long until the waiting baby/ies will happily play on the play mat or sit in a bouncer next to you. In the early days it is a bit harder. This is when a dummy may come in handy. If you are home and have a bouncer or a swing then that may pacify them for a short time. You can rock them with your feet. Sometimes one will have to wait and cry but it’s not forever.
If you are exceptionally lucky in the early days, one may sleep until it is their turn. One thing that may work is that if they are all hungry at the same time then feed one for 5 minutes and then the other (and then the third, if applicable – or alternatively tandem feed for a few minutes) and then go back to the first and rotate to finish each feed. Additionally, you will get better at reading their cues and becoming familiar with their cries and routines and be able to feed them before they tip over the edge.
5. Depends on your routine.
If your babies have spent time in the NICU/SCN then you may find that they are being fed on slightly different routines to allow the nurses to give them their full attention. You may decide to continue feeding multiples separately when you get home. If they start to get too close in feeding times you can always start feeding the first baby a few minutes earlier. You may choose to have a full hour between their babies feeds during the day, which will allow for ample time to burp and change nappies without any pressure.
6. Who to feed first?
This will depend on how long you have been singularly feeding and if you have a set routine. If not, the obvious tactic is to feed the one crying first. However some parents may decide to always feed the babies in a certain order so they get to learn that they would be fed after their sibling etc. In terms of keeping up your supply, if you have twins and are breastfeeding, you can consider assigning a breast to each child, either per feed or per 24 hours. If you have triplets, or more, and are breastfeeding, then you will most likely have a fairly regimented schedule of alternating breasts, alternating babies and expressing.
7. Alternate breast and bottle (EBM or formula)
There is no denying, fed is best. Some parents of multiples choose to alternate a bottle feed (either expressed milk or formula) and breast feeds. This can come down to preference, supply or simply the additional hands that may be present to help. Regardless of what is in the bottle and if you are doing some breastfeeds, one option is to alternate the breast and the bottle. This can be done individually or simultaneously. You can breastfeed one baby in your arms, bottle feed another on the couch next to you and even rock the third baby in a bouncer with your foot. And rotate this each feed.
8. You have other children who also need your attention
If you have other children at home then you need to also consider their needs. Maybe it’s easier feeding multiples separately. This will allow you to snuggle on the couch with your two year old and a book. Or maybe you need the freedom to be able to walk around the kitchen or supervise homework. Your feeding routine may need to fit around your other children.
9. Breastfeeding while out and about
Let me be perfectly honest here. There is nothing glamorous about tandem breastfeeding. In 18 months I personally never found a discrete way to tandem feed. I have absolutely no issue with a woman breastfeeding her children and I was comfortable to feed in most places. However, if I was in a Westfield shopping centre, or a busy restaurant or had to walk and feed, it was purely easier feeding multiples separately.
10. You have a “spare pair of hands”
If you are lucky enough to have your partner, a friend, a relative a nanny or even a volunteer assisting with feeds, then take advantage of it!! Let them feed a baby (or two) while you feed one baby. Or even better, let them feed all the babies and get out and walk around the block! Trust me, you will feel a lot better.
Twinfo provides a connection to resources, information, products and service providers who specialise in supporting multiple births at every stage of their life.