August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, a global movement to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding by any woman, anywhere, and at any time. We support our twin families who choose to breastfeed, as well as those who choose NOT to! However you choose to feed your babies, we support you!
If you are preparing to have twins, the idea of how to breastfeed them can be daunting. You are faced with two options: try and feed them both at the same time, or feed them separately. Tandem feeding is definitely possible – I did it with my twins. While feeding them at the same time obviously saves you time, it can be quite difficult, and it can take quite a while to get the hang of it. There are limited options for positions when tandem feeding, but you should try them all to see what works best for you and your babies.
Basic Positions for Breastfeeding One Baby
- Cradle Hold: Mom holds baby in her arm with baby’s head in the nook of her elbow and feet laying across Mom’s belly
- Crossover Hold: Baby is side-lying on pillow, feeding on left breast with legs tucked under Mom’s right arm (or vice versa)
- Football Hold: Baby lies on back on pillow, feeding on right breast with legs tucket under Mom’s right arm (or vice versa)
- Laid-Back Position: Mom lays on back and baby feeds while laying on top of her stomach
- Side-Lying Position: Mom and baby lay on their sides, facing each other. Baby feeds on breast next to the bed.
- Upright breastfeeding is also an option for older babies who can sit upright.
- Slideshow of single baby breastfeeding holds
If you plan to only feed one baby at a time, all of these are available to you. Some moms prefer to only feed one baby at a time as it provides an individual bonding experience with each baby.
If you would like to venture into the world of tandem feeding, first make sure that both babies are pretty competent feeders. This means feeding each baby individually for a while. For some, this may only be for a couple days, for some it could be a few weeks.
Starting to Tandem Feed
Once all three of you are ready, experts will tell you there are two main positions to try:
- Double-Football Hold
- Double-Cradle Hold
With the Double-Football Hold, you will rest your babies’ bodies on pillows along your sides and under your arms. Your hands will cradle their heads with their bodies held right up next to your hips. If you are familiar with the single Football Hold, you will find that it is the exact same hold, just doing it with two babies, one on each side of you. This hold is often an easy transition into tandem feedings for both mom and babies, however, some moms feel it forces their own body into an awkward position.
There is also a variation of the Double-Football Hold. Place two pillows out from your sides like wings. You place each baby on a pillow and cradle their heads with your hands. Your forearm should rest along your babies’ backs with your elbow near their rump. You could also think of it as a variation as the Crossover Hold because the way you cradle the baby is similar, but you move your arm and the baby outward toward the breast closest to that arm. This hold is also pretty easy, however, if you can’t position your pillows right, this will likely be very tiring for your arms. It may help to do this in a slightly reclined position. The big drawback with this position is your babies are not getting nearly as much skin contact as with the other holds.
With the Double-Cradle Hold, you will place both babies on a double breastfeeding pillow over your lap. Each baby lays in the crook of each elbow, crisscrossing each other. This means one baby will be lying with the majority of its body touching your chest, but the second baby will have its body touching the other baby. This may take several adjustments and getting used to before you figure out how it will work for the three of you.
One of your concerns may be that the first baby’s feet will be in the second baby’s way. To solve this, you will simply want to try and position the first baby’s feet under your opposite breast. Also, as the second baby will be craning a bit around the first baby, your arm support will be more important for the second baby than with the first. Finally, it might take some getting used to for the baby that is sandwiched between the two of you. Try both babies in both positions to see who is most comfortable where. While this hold may seem a bit more complicated than the Double-Football Hold, many moms find it more comfortable for themselves.
While most of the information you are given will tell you that the above positions are the only ones, if you consult other twin moms, you will find there are additional options. Some moms have tried a Double-Laid-Back Position. This is another position that seems to need a lot of adjustments and getting used to before you will find what will work for you. While some moms reported being able to keep both babies on their tummy, some moms said it worked better to let both babies slide off to mom’s side, under mom’s arms. Imagine taking your Football Hold, leaning back and adjusting the babies up from there. While a bit difficult to pull off, this might be the way you want to go if you have two babies with severe reflux.
Finally, if you are able to Football Hold one baby, you can cradle the other, upright feed the other, or laid-back feed the other. Combining different holds gives you a lot of options to figure out what is most comfortable for you and what is most successful for each of your babies. Personally, my son had a lot of issues with reflux, I found the Laid-Back Position most successful for reducing his reflux symptoms. With the help of two pillows, I was able to successfully Football Hold my daughter on the other side.
Some additional positions for breastfeeding twins are:
While two babies will certainly change your breastfeeding experience, you have several options if you would like to try tandem feeding. Take advantage of your resources, including talking to your local lactation consultants. Remain open-minded, try different positions, and figure out what works best for you and your babies. Good luck, mama!
Maya Mason lives in the Twin Cities, MN and works as a Juvenile Probation Officer. Maya is the mom of 6-month-old boy/girl twins named Theo and Teia who were born at 24 weeks. Maya has Lupus and this diagnosis has led her to become passionate about natural health and wellness. Maya loves to spend time with her family, play volleyball and travel. She also is an avid writer and is in the process of writing a teen fiction series.
Got twins? Us too! The Twiniversity Podcast with Natalie Diaz is created by parents of twins FOR parents of twins, from expecting times through the teenage years and everything in between. This podcast is all about parenting twins, offering plenty of tips, parenting hacks, and of course, humor. Just know that we are laughing WITH you every step of the way.
Are you looking to connect with an experienced parent of multiples who has been in your shoes? Do you want to feel supported, guided, and heard as a new parent of multiples*?
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Ready to sign up? Visit the Twiniversity Parent-to-Parent Mentorship Page to learn how to apply!
Are you a new twin parent? Check out Natalie Diaz’s new book “What To Do When You’re Having Two: The Twin Survival Guide From Pregnancy Through the First Year”, available in stores now!
The rate of twin births has risen 79 percent over the last three decades, and continues to increase. A mom of fraternal twins and a national guru on having two, Natalie Diaz launched Twiniversity, a supportive website with advice from the twin-trenches.
What to Do When You’re Having Two is the definitive how-to guide to parenting twins, covering how to make a Birth Plan checklist, sticking to one sleep schedule, managing double-duty breastfeeding, stocking up on all the necessary gear, building one-on-one relationships with each child, and more.
Accessible and informative, What to Do When You’re Having Two is the must-have manual for all parents of twins.