Which Breast?

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated August 4, 2013.

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which-breastOnce your babies are nursing effectively most mothers of twins enjoy nursing them together when possible.  Not only does this conserve time but it also has the added bonus maintaining a strong milk supply and enhances milk let-downs if one baby is suckling more weakly at the breast.  There are several ways to go about nursing twins simultaneously: alternating breasts with each feed; alternating breasts and babies each day; or assigning one breast to each baby. Everyone mother-twin dyad is different so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. None of these approaches are right or wrong; just find what works for you and your babies and go with it.

Alternating breasts – either each feed or each day

Alternating breasts for your babies has the advantage of ensuring your baby’s eye coordination develops appropriately (so they are not always nursing on the left side for example), maintaining an ample supply in both of your breasts (in case one baby stimulates your breasts more by taking in more milk), and ensuring each baby gets adequate milk (as it is very common for one breast to produce more milk than the other).

Whether you alternate each feed or each day is completely up to you.  More twin moms prefer to alternate each day (24-hour period) simply because it is easier to remember than each feed.  However, if both babies nurse well and usually wait a little while before wanting to nurse again, changing breasts each feed is also very manageable.

Assigning one breast to each baby

Assuming both breasts have an adequate milk supply, assigning each baby a breast has several advantages as well: the baby can control the milk let-down more as the amount of milk in the breast will be what that baby needs (helping with overactive supply); it can help facilitate nursing positions if one baby has a positional anomaly such as torticollis; and it helps to minimize cross-contamination if one baby has thrush, illness, etc.

There are also several risks to this method, so it is important to be aware of them: a mother’s milk supply could be negatively impacted if one baby does not suckle effectively; a baby’s growth could falter if one breast produces less milk to the point where it is not enough for baby’s proper growth and development; or a baby could have a nursing strike if for some reason he couldn’t nurse on “his side” and had to nurse on the other.

None of the risks are enough to keep mothers from breastfeeding twins this way, they are just important to be aware of. Ultimately, if this approach works best for you, then that is perfectly acceptable!

Watch their individual feeding cues

It is also essential to remember that each of your babies is unique and it is important to listen and watch for individual cues. While it is helpful and usually possible to feed your babies simultaneously, it is rare to find two babies – even identical twins – who always want to eat at exactly the same time.  So try to also maintain flexibility in whatever plan you come up with so you can be attuned to each baby if they need to nurse at other times throughout the day.

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