A big decision new moms must make for their little ones’ nutrition is breast vs. formula.
Some people can be uncomfortable around women while they are breastfeeding. However, if you pull out a bottle of formula, there are those who may criticize you for not feeding your babies what they might consider "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 and your babies?
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 reach age 2, 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.
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.
By pumping your breast milk, it is easier to have public feedings and other family members to participate in feeding your twins.
Formula Feeding Twins
Formula feeding is also a healthy choice for babies. If you use a formula, your babies will get the best possible alternative to breast milk. (You should not attempt to make your own formula or feed an infant cow's milk.)
Many moms choose formula for a variety of reasons:
- It's convenient. Formula-fed babies can be fed by anyone at any time.
- It's flexible. You don't have to fit pumping into your work schedule. Instead, you can simply leave formula for your babysitter or day care center.
- For twins, formula-feeding may make it easier to feed both of them at the same time.
- Your partner can help out with night-time feedings and share the bonding experience with your babies.
- Scheduling feedings may be easier. Formula isn't digested as quickly as breast milk, so formula-fed babies don't need to eat as often, especially in the first few months.
- You don't have to worry about what you eat. Moms who breastfeed may have to avoid certain foods that their babies can't tolerate.
- You can have a glass of wine or a cocktail once in a while. Alcohol is a no-no for women who breastfeed because they pass on tiny amounts of it to their babies.
Whichever way you choose to feed your babies -- breast milk, formula, or a combination of both -- the most important thing is that your babies are well fed, well cared for, and loved.