Frequently Asked Questions about Breastfeeding Premature
(The completed list of Breastfeeding Premature Multiples FAQs is in our Breast
Feeding Triplets, Quadruplets, & Quintuplets (TQQ) booklet in the MOST
Where should I begin when deciding if I want to breastfeed?
A: The more mothers you are able to speak with who successfully
nursed multiples the better. They are a wonderful resource! What worked for
them? How did they manage with their other children? How did they manage when
they had to leave the house? These are a few questions that come to mind. Again,
the more M.O.M. (Mothers of Multiples) you can network with and talk to, the
more apt you are to learn how to nurse your multiples and have a positive experience.
MOST has several lactation consultants and many parent volunteers who are available
to help our members.
Another good way to prepare to nurse your HOM is to read, read, read! Read everything
associated with nursing.
There are some circumstances where breastfeeding would not be recommended or
even possible and a new mom should not feel at all guilty if this is the case.
"Breastfeeding triplets is great, it can be done, it has great benefits,
BUT, it's okay to stop or not do it at all if that is what you choose".
Q: Will my babies be able to nurse if they are premature?
A: Most triplets or more are born premature. If your babies
are born before 34 weeks, they may not be able to nurse at the breast right
away. They may need to be gavage fed (a tiny tube inserted in the nose or mouth
that goes to their stomach). In this case, you can pump (express) your milk
to feed them. Many hospitals have wonderful pumps, or you may want to rent or
buy. *If your babies are micro-preemies, (under 2.9 pounds), or very premature,
your insurance may pay for the pump rental. Usually babies born after 34 weeks
can suck, swallow and breathe at the same time and this is often the criteria
for nursing at the breast. Some NICU’s will allow you to hold your baby
while being gavage fed your milk, and your baby may just suckle. This is a wonderful
way to “teach” your baby to nurse, and sometimes, even a micro-preemie
will “root” and “latch on”!
Kangaroo Care (skin to skin) contact will also help your milk come in and should
be encouraged as soon as possible in the NICU. Meanwhile, pump, pump, and pump.
Every 3 hours is the ideal to build up your supply but be kind to yourself appreciating
you have just had major abdominal surgery and need time to heal and grow strong
yourself. One important suggestion is that you make sure you have an opportunity
to nurse each of your babies at the breast prior to their discharge from the
hospital so that you have the staff resources for guidance and support. Each
baby is different and each nursing experience is different. Having a professional
to turn to while you are getting to know each baby’s nursing style is
Will I have enough milk to feed ALL of my babies?
A: This is one of the most amazing things about the mothers’
body! It is a matter of supply and demand. There are so many different ways
to help this along. First of all, you will need to treat your body as if you
were still pregnant! Eating, drinking, and sleeping are very important, and
are very necessary to ensure a good milk supply. Take good care of yourself.
Putting your babies to breast often and holding them skin to skin (kangaroo
care) will help your milk along.
Will I be able to feed two of my babies at once?
A: Yes! In time, with patience and love, and when your babies
are strong enough to both latch on (sometimes not until at or about when they
are 10 lbs.), you will be able to feed them at the same time. This is a great
time saver. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work for you the
first few times you attempt to nurse simultaneously. This takes time. It is
a learned task. A LARGE nursing pillow (available through the MOST general store)
comes in handy, as does an extra set of hands, to just help you get into position.
Why should I nurse so many babies?
A: Not just because breast milk is so important to a premature
baby but also because you can! It is the most wonderful bonding experience you
can ever imagine! Just because you have so many babies at once, why should they
and you miss out on such a wonderful experience? You can do this! There are
numerous health benefits for you AND them! It is such a short time in you life.
Persevere if this is what you want for your babies. One Mom shared that “My
husband kept telling me to stop - I think he did not know the importance of
breastfeeding and he saw that I was stressed out and thought it would make things
less stressful. Breastfeeding actually calmed me and helped me bond with the
babies. I knew I was going back to work. Breastfeeding was the only thing I
could give my babies that my nanny could not.”
Pam Pace, Lactation Consultant and LLL Leader for Multiples, Mother of triplets
plus one, Bonnie Bisogno-Salsone, Mother of triplets, Catherine Watson Genna
IBCLC, Felina Gallagher of the Upper Breast Side, NY, Lisa DiBona, MOST Research
and Maureen A. Doolan Boyle, Executive Director of MOST and mother of triplets
the MOST Supertwins' Online Store