When I started thinking about this topic, I wasn’t sure if this really was a problem for parents of twins or triplets. I personally couldn’t breastfeed my triplets. They were born very prematurely and whilst I expressed for as long a I could, my milk dried up due to the stress of three extremely premature babies with a whole host of issues. They were put onto formula before they left hospital. My situation isn’t unique but I know many moms who successfully breastfeed their twins and triplets.
My thoughts about this, and the reason I decided to write the post, was, that to be able to combine breast and bottle feed your multiples without them getting nipple confusion, would be the best of both worlds !
Breast and bottle feeding is a reality that you can achieve if you follow a few sensible suggestions. There are many practical reasons to be able to breast and bottle feed your multiples, to have the choice creates a calmer household bringing up your twins and triplets.
Breast and Bottle Feeding
Maybe for a parent of singletons, breast and bottle feeding isn’t as much a concern, but then I am sure there are working moms who need to get their baby onto a bottle before they go back to work, so I hope this article helps them too.
However my focus was really on twins and triplets moms, helping them get the best of both worlds for their babies. I didn’t have a choice, that was taken away from me when my triplets arrived so early. They did get tube fed my expressed breast milk so got the benefit of it and with my last baby , a singleton, ten years later ( I know I’m mad! But I wanted to experience a normal pregnancy and the pleasure of a single baby) He did have breast/bottle issues. He flatly refused to take a bottle ! We tried because I was getting so tired with three 10 year olds and a new baby, hubby decided he would do the early morning feed and then get ready for work – perfect ! Only baby wasn’t so keen on this, he screamed and carried on, making himself sick that hubby had to bring him to me to feed. Wish I had read this article first !
The first thing to consider is that you do want breast feeding to be established with all your babies first. A few weeks of total breast-feeding is important. Caring for twins and triplets at this stage is a full on job. Whilst we all want to bounce back and be supermom, be kind to yourself. Even though I wasn’t breast feeding, the first few weeks I dont think I got out of my night clothes much before lunchtime. Everything else is unimportant in the first few weeks, establish a routine, then you can start tweaking routines, following my suggestions below. The intention is of course to have your twins or triplets happy to take breast and bottle equally, giving you the flexibility for help with feeding, this is the point of this page. It is not to sway you in any way to stop breast feeding unless that is your decision, but to give you the option of having one of your triplets bottle fed while you breast feed the other two, then swap one round so all get the comfort of mommy at some point in the day. Whilst breast feeding twins is easier – a breast each, you still may want support so there is nothing wrong in having your twins adaptable to breast or bottle too.
* When starting out on the introduction of a bottle, don’t start introducing it to a very young baby. You stand the risk of creating nipple confusion and your baby turning away from breast feeding altogether. As I mentioned above, get a routine started, and breast feeding established first.
- Don’t offer the bottle when your baby is starving, better to introduce it nearer the end of the feed, they are likely to be less anxious, swallow less air in the attempt to get milk and you are less likely to end up with a screaming baby who is so desperate to feed, but refuses the bottle. Towards the end of the feed, slip the bottle nipple in for baby to try.
- Start by having breast milk in the bottle. Baby is more likely to take the bottle if the milk tastes the same. You can alter this later on, but only change one thing at a time.
- Experiment with bottles and teats(nipples) until you get one that your babies will take. So don’t go out and spend a fortune on bottles before you know they will be accepted. There are many different types of bottles that imitate breast feeding but not all suit all babies so it may be a little trial and error until you hit on the one they will accept. Have a look at my page on Best Baby Bottles for Breast Feeding I have compared all the bottles on the market right now. Teats that resemble nipples – make it feel like mommy!
- Go for a slow flow teat – this will ensure that you don’t ‘drown’ your babies with milk flowing into their mouths way faster than it does when they’re breast feeding. The whole point is to make the experience as similar as you can so they will accept both breast and bottle. Many of the breastfeeding bottle simulate the same sucking action required so the baby doesn’t choke on the milk pouring out.
- Ensure your babies latch onto the bottle nipple the same way as they do to your nipple. They should have a wide mouth, and latch onto the base of the bottle nipple. You don’t want your baby to get lazy and not latch onto your nipple correctly so if they do the same thing to the bottle nipple, the same latch on to you will continue.
- Be patient. They are not going to accept this straight away. This was my experience with my singleton, he was definitely not having it. My hubby tried at the early morning feed, he was starving and wasn’t having any of it. We shouldn’t have done it then, I should have introduced it during the day, patiently after he had fed, get him to feel it in his mouth and tongue it a bit, rather than just expecting him to accept it. I think I also left it too late to try a bottle with him, he was 4 months old, I should have started this sooner.
- Feed for 10-20 minutes at a time, as you would when breast feeding. Also feed an appropriate amount for weight, over a suitable length of time rather than trying to feed as much as you can in the shortest time. This will lead to a fat baby as your baby’s system needs to recognise fullness which it will if the length of time is acceptable otherwise you will overfill your baby and they will get fat.
- Don’t waken your baby to finish the bottle – this goes hand in hand with the tip above.
- Allow your baby to feed from the bottle in the same manner they would use when breast feeding. A breast fed baby gets into a rythmn of sucking/swallowing/breathing. You can mimic this with a bottle. It ensures that your baby gets the same gratification from the bottle as the breast. The breast is fairly hard work to suck, the bottle is instant, so this paced feeding will maintain the rhythm your baby is used to. Have a look at the you tube video below.
Paced Bottle Feeding
Your baby may swallow a little air with paced bottle feeding but this will be brought up when you wind your baby.
Breast or bottle feeding your babies should be an enjoyable experience for you all, so go with what you want to do, if you need support, adapt your babies over a few days to accepting a bottle too, giving you the chance to accept the help which will be offered ! It isn’t going to be for long that you are in the situation of night feeding your twins or triplets. They will start sleeping longer, so you will be less drained and tired and the whole breast feeding bottle feeding issue will be more relaxed, but this method will give you flexibility if you want it. Go have a look at the breastfeeding bottles and remember just order one to start with, make sure they will accept the new nipple before you fork out ! Best Baby Bottles For Breastfeeding. If you want to express breastmilk for bottle feeding, have a look at the breast pumps. Over time, consider adding in a formula if necessary.
If I can help in any way, just send me a mail or leave me a comment below. I am always happy to offer support and advice… if I can !
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