Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding With Twins
Of all the battles in the "mommy wars," none may be more fiercely fought than breast vs. formula. And for moms expecting twins, the question about whether to breastfeed or formula feed may seem even more challenging. After all, you'll be feeding two hungry babies at the same time.
If you breastfeed your babies, you may catch flack for nursing in public. If you formula feed, you may be scolded that you're not feeding your babies "nature's perfect food" -- breast milk.
No matter what you decide, other people will surely have an opinion. But only one thing really matters: Which choice is right for you?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast milk as the very best nutrition for infants. Babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, according to the AAP. After other foods have been introduced, the AAP encourages mothers to continue to breastfeed until their babies are at least a year, and as long after that as both mother and child are willing.
Breast milk is good for your babies in many ways:
- It provides natural antibodies that help your babies resist illnesses, such as ear infections.
- It's usually more easily digested than formula. So breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.
- It may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of your babies' lives.
- It may raise your children's intelligence.
- Breast milk may even help your children in later years by reducing the risk of being overweight and of developing asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
Breastfeeding is good for moms, too. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer.
But let's not forget a key reason many new moms want to breastfeed. It's a wonderful bonding experience with your babies. Plus, it's almost free!
But what about the fact that you don't just have one baby to feed? To give yourself the best chance of successfully nursing your twins:
- Ask your pediatrician about some of the best ways to breastfeed twins.
- Consult the La Leche League resource page on nursing multiples.
- Learn a variety of breastfeeding postures.
- Get a pump and learn how to use it ahead of time. Twins are more likely to be premature and spend time in the NICU. So be ready to provide breast milk by pumping if you can't nurse your babies right away.
- If your babies don't have to stay in the NICU, room-in with them and nurse on demand, if possible.
- Until your babies are too big to handle at the same time, try to feed them both at once. Switch sides so each twin nurses in different positions.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with frequent snacks.
- Stay well hydrated, drinking lots of water, juices, or milk.
- Line up help at home: your family and friends. Let them know that you could use their help keeping the house clean and preparing meals. This way, you can hold and nurse your babies as much as possible.