Booby Traps Series: Booby Traps for Moms of Twins (or more), Part 2

This is the 41st post in a series on Booby Traps, made possible by the generous support of Motherlove Herbal Company.

We are so very pleased to share the second of a two part guest post by Karen Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC, FILCA, on Booby Traps for moms of multiples (click here for Part I).  Karen is the author of the classic Mothering Multiples, and is recognized as a leading expert on breastfeeding twins (and more).

While a lot has been written about nursing multiples, we haven’t seen a comprehensive explanation of the barriers moms face.  So we think this post will be a classic!

Peer Booby Traps

Mothers of multiples sometimes booby-trap breastfeeding for another mother when they proclaim, “You won’t survive infancy with multiple infants unless you…

  • “Get them on the same (strict) schedule right away!”
  • “Use sleep training so they soon sleep through the night (even if each must cry it out).”

Strict day or nighttime schedules can undermine milk production and may interfere with weight gain for one or more babies. Plus, trying to impose such schedules often adds to the stress of caring for multiples by creating an unrealistic expectation for many young infants and putting unnecessary pressure on a new mother.

Also considered a Booby Trap by those who need the company of other mothers of multiples but aren’t yet ready to leave breastfed babies at home is a parents/mothers of multiple club that welcomes the mother but frowns on breastfed babies accompanying her to meetings.

Booby Trapping Yourself?

Finally, a mother of multiples may Booby-Trap herself. For instance, the mother who expects each of her babies to have the exact same breastfeeding pattern or assumes each of her preterm babies to make the transition to direct breastfeeding at the exact same time and in the exact same way is setting Booby Traps for herself. Each multiple-birth infant is an individual. More likely than not, one former preterm multiple will be ready to move to exclusive breastfeeding before the other(s). Also, one is more likely to need more frequent breastfeeding or more time to breastfeed than the other(s).

Mothers often Booby-Trap themselves by thinking there is a problem with breastfeeding when an issue has little or nothing to do with the actual breastfeeding. Often the issue is really about coping with two or more times the usual number of babies. But breastfeeding easily gets all mixed up with the two (or more) babies issues. It becomes another case of shooting the messenger (breastfeeding).

A huge self-detonating booby trap common among mothers of multiples is that they tend to “should” on themselves! Mother who think they should be able to care for babies, older children, household tasks, their careers, etc. as they might do or have done with a previous single baby set themselves up for frustration. When circumstances interfere with a mother of multiples’ breastfeeding goals, too many mothers blame themselves instead of the circumstances. Mothers who think they should be able to “do it all” without physical help  and emotional support are in for the biggest boom of Booby Trap bombs!

How Moms of Multiples can Avoid the Booby Traps

Don’t add to the minefield of Booby Traps. A mother of multiples is more likely to avoid Booby Traps if she:

  • Prepares to begin breastfeeding under a variety of circumstances – preterm or full-term birth; vaginal, cesarean or a combination of delivery methods; supportive or unsupportive partner, family or friends; etc. For more information or ideas, review the FAQ at my web site.
  • Develops a birth plan designed to help breastfeeding (or milk expression) that includes skin-to-skin contact at birth if babies are late preterm or term, and with less mature preterm infants as soon as possible. (Skin-to-skin contact is called Kangaroo Care in the NICU. Be a “squeaky wheel” about making it happen!) A fill-in-the-blanks birth plan for twins and some triplet sets is available on my website.
  • Develops a cheering squad of breastfeeding supportive professionals, family and friends who understand and will reinforce her breastfeeding goals.
  • Finds where she can rent a hospital-grade breast pump in case she must express milk for babies that came early or any that is not yet able to breastfeed effectively.
  • Expects late preterm/term newborns to cue and begin breastfeeding within the first hour of birth; plans to hand express colostrum within the first hour if one/more babies cannot yet breastfeed. Then Maximize Milk Production with Hands-on Pumping by combining the breast pump with hands-on techniques until all babies breastfeed well.
  • Accepts help with household tasks or an older child, which free her to breastfeed and/or express milk for her babies.
  • Allows time for a daily routine to develop as she and her babies adjust and get to know one another better.
  • Distinguishes breastfeeding issues from issues related to having two (or three or more) the usual number of babies.
  • Celebrates what she and her babies accomplish and lets go when babies or breasts force her to take a detour for any amount of time.



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12 Comments | Last revised on 05/09/2012


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12 Responses to Booby Traps Series: Booby Traps for Moms of Twins (or more), Part 2

  1. erin says:

    As a mom of twins, is there anywhere I can get these stickers?!
    Such a great article and I would LOVE to post these stickers around my town

  2. Becky says:

    I’m a bit unsure about the comment ‘parents/mothers of multiple club that welcomes the mother but frowns on breastfed babies accompanying her to meetings’. Our local clubs are all about bringing the babies along but you can feel an oddity breastfeeding when the other twin mummies have their babies lined up on vshaped pillows with bottles and snacks.

  3. Stacey says:

    My twin were #3 & 4. My 2 previous children I had a hard time establishing breastfeeding, so I was worried about bf my twins. They were 6 weeks premature and at day 5 they were tandem feeding and the easiest to bf of all my children. Bfing my twins was extremely rewarding. I did run into boony traps from peers. “how can you possibly have time to bf them”, ” I don’t think you’ll produce enough milk” and on and on. I just stood for what I believed in and my husband was more then supportive. Good luck to all moms with twins :-)

  4. Jenny says:

    My multiples club told my friend and I (who were attending together, I had a singleton baby with me, she had twins) that we couldn’t bring them. She had no childcare, so she had to leave the club, they refunded her dues. The clubs in my area, Cincinnati Ohio, are indeed not supportive of breastfeeding. I worked with the club leadership trying to figure out a way to offer childcare at the meetings, no one was interested.

    Another thing that helped me was a doula who helped me get started breastfeeding. With my youngest, who is a singleton, I had such a difficult birth that I forgot I needed to breastfeed him right away. She got him and helped me latch him on, I’m quite positive that made a huge difference in establishing breastfeeding.

  5. Krista says:

    Thank you for telling me that I don’t need to have them on a schedule! My husband is sure life would be easier for me if they were on a schedule, but it just doesn’t feel right. My girls are two months old and we are making it although I think one of them is tongue tied, hoping to get that fixed on Friday. I’ve had to pump a bit after she nurses so it doesn’t kill me and also so she gets enough.

  6. The only schedule I had was the one the ones the twins created…meaning on demand. No scheduling, no sleep training, no pumping, supplements or bottles. The only issues I had were with oversupply (which to me was better than low supply) and thrush. 17 months later, they are still breastfeeding and none of us could imagine it any other way.

  7. Rosemary says:

    Wow. I guess I was lucky the multiples club I was in when my twins were babies never made me feel awkward or un-welcomed to breast feed my babies. And yeah, schedule schmedule. My boys still to this day (13 yrs later) can’t be counted on to do the same things at the same time. And they’re identical! HA!

  8. Erica says:

    Fantastic article.
    My twins group wasn’t anti-breastfeeding, but the area for it was apart from the main group, on the floor, without enough cushions. I thought I may as well have stayed at home and fed in comfort as it didn’t provide either company or comfort.

  9. The link for “fill-in-the-blanks birth plan for twins and some triplet sets” doesn’t link to anything. I need it for a resource for a client. Can you help? Thanks for your articles and all you do to help mothers!

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