What do you need to breastfeed twins? Honestly, the answer is different for every set of mom and twins! There is so much that is dependent on your unique lifestyle and circumstances.
As a registered nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, I have created this list to help you decide what will be the must-haves for you to breastfeed your twins.
Twin Breastfeeding Must-Haves
The twin mom who is feeding her twins directly at the breast exclusively will have different must-haves compared to the twin mom doing a combination of nursing the twins at the breast and bottle feeding. The twin mom who is combination feeding will have different needs than the twin mom who is exclusively pumping for her twins.
The twin mom returning to work will have different needs from the twin mom who is staying home.
As a fellow twin mom myself, my goal is to help you figure out what you actually NEED. The last thing I want is you spending money on things you do not need.
As always, this information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please contact your health care provider should you have any concerns about your health of the health of your twins.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of my links I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Twin Breastfeeding Pillow
A twin breastfeeding pillow is a must have! If you plan to tandem nurse (breastfeeding both babies at the same time) a twin breastfeeding pillow is essential. It is very difficult to tandem nurse newborn twins without a twin breastfeeding pillow.
A twin breastfeeding pillow will help to support your delicate newborn twins and support their position at the breast.
Typically to use a twin breastfeeding pillow the twins would be positioned in the “football” hold.
The duration of use depends on each unique set of mom and twins. Some families will stop using the pillow when the twins are older and are able to support themselves at the breast and maintain a good latch.
Other mom and twins dyads will use the breastfeeding pillow for their entire nursing journey.
Personally, we used our twin breastfeeding pillow for EVERY SINGLE FEEDING from 3 weeks until the twins weaned just shy of two years.
Depending on the type of twin breastfeeding pillow you own, it can also be used to help position the twins for bottle feeding, tummy time and more.
The three most popular twin breastfeeding pillows currently on the market are (in no particular order):
- My Breastfriend Twin Nursing Pillow
- Twin Z Nursing Pillow
- TwinGo Nurse & Lounge Pillow
Of the above twin nursing pillows, the Twin Z and TwinGo Nurse & Lounge can also be used for bottle-feeding.
Extra Cover for Twin Breastfeeding Pillow
An extra cover for your twin breastfeeding pillow is not a definite necessity but is very nice to have. I did not have an extra cover for my preferred nursing pillow and it was FIVE months before I was able to wash it. It had many a food stains on it. If your preferred nursing pillow has the option to purchase an extra cover and it is within your means I would definitely consider it.
Double Electric Breast Pump
A double electric pump may or may not be a necessity for your breastfeeding journey. Here are some points to consider.
- Will you be returning to work soon? If so, do you plan to continue providing your babies with breastmilk? If so, then yes- this is a necessity.
- Were your babies born premature? Will they be staying in the NICU? Then yes, this is a necessity.
- Do you plan to offer bottles or exclusively feed at the breast?
A double electric breast pump will offer your best chance at establishing and maintaining a milk supply if your twins are not feeding directly at the breast or if your twins are having trouble effectively removing milk from the breast.
In most cases I would recommend either owning or renting a double electric breast pump. The majorirty of twin mothers do need one at some point in their twin breastfeeding journey.
A pump is most often needed in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey when you are establishing milk supply; if a mother is returning to work part time or full-time, or if a mother is choosing to offer bottles of pumped breastmilk regularly or if a mother is choosing to exclusively pump.
Nursing pads are a must-have, especially in the early weeks as your supply is regulating. Nursing pads are used to absorb leaking milk. Some breastfeeding moms will experience a lot of a milk leakage and some will experience very little milk leakage.
Most breastfeeding twin moms will experience leaking in the early postpartum period as your breast milk supply is regulating.
Remember to change your nursing pads when they become wet! Keeping wet nursing pads on your breasts can lead to thrush- a yeast infection that can affect your nipples and can transfer to the babies’ mouths during nursing. You do not want thrush- trust me!
If you do get thrush do not worry, it is treatable and you can continue breastfeeding or pumping!
There are two types of nursing pads, disposable and reusable.
Disposable Nursing Pads
Disposable nursing pads are a one-time use and are then thrown in the trash once they become wet.
Some breastfeeding twin moms report that disposable nursing pads absorbed more milk than reusable.
Most breastfeeding twin moms report that disposable nursing pads were not as comfortable as reusable nursing pads.
I personally used disposable nursing pads for the first few weeks of breastfeeding twins when I was experiencing a lot of leaking between feeds. I did find the disposable nursing pads to feel uncomfortable on my nipples, especially with the heightened sensitivity the first few weeks postpartum.
Reusable Nursing Pads
Reusable nursing pads are removed once they become wet and can be thrown in the wash and reused again and again and again!
Benefits of reusable nursing pads include increased comfort for the breastfeeding twin mom, budget-friendly and good for the environment!
I personally LOVED my reusable nursing pads. Not all reusable nursing pads are made equally. I used a “lower quality” brand first and was not impressed with the comfort level.
I had 5 pairs of nursing pads and found that to be sufficient for me as a stay at home mom.
Depending how much you are leaking and how often you need to change nursing pads, as well as how often you do laundry will depend on how many pairs of reusable nursing pads you need.
Nursing clothing can be so subjective! It all depends on your preferences as mom and your lifestyle. A breastfeeding twin mom who is planning to go back to work in an office setting will have different needs than a breastfeeding twins stay at home mom.
For most breastfeeding twin moms nursing bras will be a must-have! I would aim to have 4-7 nursing bras on average- more if you want to do laundry less often. Nursing bras should be changed every day or as soon as possible if they become wet from leaking breastmilk (remember we want to avoid a thrush infection!)
Nursing Tank Tops
Nursing tank tops are a totally optional item- however, in my experience they are a NECESSITY. As a breastfeeding twin mom who mainly tandem nursed the twins, it was very convenient to unclip both sides and breastfeed. When you are trying to balance two hungry babies on a nursing pillow you don’t want to be messing around with fancy nursing tops- you want fast access.
A pumping bra may or may not be an essential item for you. Do you plan to exclusively pump for your twins or pump regularly? Then this is a necessity!
If you are planning to be an exclusive pumper or pump regularly you are not going to want to be holding your flanges in place at the breast every pumping session. A pumping bra will enable you to be hands-free so you can even tandem bottle feed your twins as you pump! You will soon see how good twin moms are at multi-tasking 😉
Are you planning to pump occasionally for your twins or rarely? This may not be a needed item.
Nipple creams are typically used to treat sore, cracked and bleeding nipples. It is not normal to have sore, cracked or bleeding nipples. If you are experiencing sore, cracked or bleeding nipples please seek the help of an IBCLC immediately.
Sore, cracked and bleeding nipples indicate either a problem with the latch of one or both twins, or improperly fitted flanges if pumping.
Now, with that being said, if you are experiencing sore, cracked or bleeding nipples it is important to treat while working on the root cause.
A cream alone will not provide healing if the root cause is not adressed and corrected.
Breast milk is one of the best soothing agents for sore nipples. Simply express a few drops of breast milk after a feed and allow to air dry. Breastmilk has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, and best of all it is free and always available! Aren’t our bodies incredible?!
Dr. Jack Newman All Purpose NIpple Ointment (APNO)
Dr. Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) is incredibly effective in treating sore, cracked and bleeding nipples.
Please refer to Dr. Jack Newman’s recipe. This is available by prescription only and needs to be mixed at a pharmacy.
The ointment is to be applied sparingly after each feed. There is no need to wipe it off or remove the ointment before latching the twins at the next feeding. This cream should not be used long-term as the corticosteroid in the cream can cause the skin on your nipples to thin with long-term use.
I personally asked for a prescription for Dr. Jack Newman’s APNO from my OB before hospital discharge after the birth of my twins and my singleton. This way I had it on-hand at home if I needed it.
I personally did need to use Dr. Jack Newman’s APNO after the birth of my twins for approximately one week and for one day after the birth of my singleton.
Coconut oil/Olive oil
Coconut oil or olive oil are great natural alternatives to use for treating sore nipples. I personally used coconut oil to treat cracks in the early postpartum period after my twins were born.
Over- the- Counter (OTC) Nipple Cream
Over-the-counter nipple creams can be used as well. There are many OTC nipple creams and butters available and the choice is dependent on the breastfeeding mom.
To be incredibly honest I much prefer to use expressed breastmilk or coconut oil, however, if there is an OTC nipple cream you love, go ahead and use it!
Breast Milk Storage Bags
Breast milk storage bags are very good to have on hand. Again, depending on how you are feeding your twins, breast milk storage bags may be a necessity.
If you are an exclusive pumper, or planning to give bottles of breast milk fairly regularly, or will be heading back to work, you will need to have breastmilk storage bags.
Depending on your lifestyle and needs, you may or may not want to have a small freezer stash of milk available.
Haakaa (Silicon breast pump)
The Haakaa is a definite must have. I personally used the Haakaa any time I was feeding only one baby and I very quickly built a freezer stash.
As a stay at home mom who fed twins exclusively at the breast I used my Haaka way more than I ever used my double electric pump.
However, if you will be exclusively pumping or pumping regularly you may not want to make this purchase.
The Haaka is great for
- Catching a letdown
- Building a small stash
- Relieving clogged milk ducts
- Soaking sore nipples
The Haakaa should not be used for
- Establishing supply
- Exclusive pumping
- Maintaining supply
- Full pump session.
The Haakaa is extremely affordable too.
The Haakaa is not to be used in place of a double electric pump for exclusive pumping or for establishing/maintaing a milk supply.
Typically I would caution the regular use of a silicone breast pump as they can lead to an oversupply. It is definitely possible to have an oversupply with twins, however, some breastfeeding twin moms struggle with milk supply.
Due to its low cost and versatility, I would highly recommend having a silicone breast pump.
Bottles will be necessary if you plan at all to provide breastmilk via bottle. Again this may depend on your personal situation.
You will need bottles if you:
- Plan to or decide to exclusively pump
- Returning to work before weaning from breastfeeding
- Plan to have your twins receive occasional bottle feedings
- One or both of your twins require supplementation and you are unable to use a spoon, cup or supplemental nursing system (SNS)
How many bottles you will need will depend on how you plan to feed your twins. If you plan to exclusively pump you will need a minimum of 8 bottles per baby (so 16 bottles total) if you would like to prep 24 hours worth of feedings at a time. This will ensure that there is always a bottle ready when needed- there is nothing more stressful than trying to clean and prep bottles while listening to two screaming babies!
If you will be returning to work and plan to have the twins bottle fed while you are at work you will likely need 3-5 bottle per baby depending on how long you will be away at work. I always recommend that breastfeeding twin moms who work breastfeed the twins right before leaving for work/childcare drop off and then breastfeed the twins again as soon as returning home/childcare pick-up if possible. This will help decrease the number of feedings your twins will require by bottle from a care-giver.
If you just plan to offer occasional bottles 1-2 bottles per twin will likely be sufficient.
If you are offering supplementation by bottle you will likely need 8 bottle per baby if supplementation is offered with every feeding. Supplementation and triple-feeding is a lot fo work and there will not be much extra time for washing and sterilizing bottles in between every feeding so you will want to have a good number of bottle on-hand. Remember- supplementation and “triple feeding” should be short-term will a plan in place to decrease the supplement.
Slow Flow Bottle Nipples
A slow flow nipple (preemie nipple) is recommended, especially for twins who will continue to feed at the breast.
Bottle feeding is a more passive form of feeding for the baby and breastfeeding requires more participation and energy on the baby’s part. This is why I recommend slow flow nipples so the flow is more similar to that of the breast and the twins do not favor the bottle over the breast because the milk is flowing faster and easier.
If a preemie nipple is not available with your bottle manufacturer stick with the Level 1 nipple and ensure the caregivers bottle feeding the twins use a paced-bottle feeding technique.
I always recommend that any baby receiving a bottle is being fed using the paced-bottle feeding technique.
Bottle nipples should be replaced every 3 months or when they begin to show signs of wear. If there is a crack in the bottle nipple it should be replaced immediately.
If you are using bottles, a bottle brush is necessary. Avoid one with a sponge on top as they can harbor bacteria. Opt for a silicone bottle brush. It is recommended they are replaced anywhere from every 30 to 45 days. Use your judgment and follow the directions of the manufacturer.
If you are planning on pumping and bottle feeding regularly or exclusively, a sterilizer would be a good investment.
Contrary to popular belief, the sterilizer function on a dishwasher should not be used for bottle and pump parts.
There are variety of types and models of sterilizers. You may choose to opt for a microwave sterilizer if you need to use it infrequently. However, if you are regularly or exclusively bottle feeding and pumping you may want to invest in a larger, countertop electric sterilizer.
A drying rack may be a necessity if you are feeding the twins by bottle or pumping any amount to have a designated area for those items to dry.
Some families do not use a drying rack and instead will allow bottles and pump parts to dry on a clean towel or paper towel on the counter.
Extra Pump Parts
If you are exclusively pumping for twins or you will be working outside the home having an extra set of pump parts will come in handy.
Twins moms who exclusively pump for twins will find it handy to have an extra set of pump parts on hand in case you get behind on washing and sterilizing.
Twin moms who are pumping while working outside the home will find it helpful to keep a spare set of pump parts at your workplace or in your pumping bag in case you forget your parts one day!
Notebook or App to Track Feedings and Diapers
Tracking feedings and output (aka diaper changes!) is crucial in the early days. Everyone is sleep deprived, no one remembers what is going on, and sometimes babies get mixed up!
It is important to track the number of wet and poop diapers as a measure to see that the twins are getting enough to eat.
Depending if you are a traditional gal or more tech-savvy you may opt to track feedings, what side you fed on and diapers in a notebook or using an app.
I personally used two dollar store notebooks, one for each baby!
Large Insulated Water Bottle
An insulated water bottle is a necessity! You will need to stay well-hydrated to produce milk for your twins and for your own optimal health.
There is a myth that you need to drink X number of ounces of water to make enough milk for twins. There is no magic number. Just drink to satisfy thirst.
An really big insulated water bottle is nice to have with you throughout the day to ensure you are meeting your water requirements and the water stays at your desired temperature.
I personally like really icy, cold water so this was a necessity! If you prefer room temperature water you can likely skip on the insulated bottle.
Easy to Eat Snacks
You need approximately an extra 1000 calories a day to produce enough breastmilk for twins! Having easy, one-handed snacks on hand is great for ensuring you actually get to eat and meeting your caloric intake.
Try to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body! You are recovering from birthing two babies, likely not sleeping a whole lot, and producing milk to feed and nourish two babies! That is a lot of work for your body, so let’s offer it the best fuel possible.
Some favorite easy snacks from my postpartum with twins included:
- smoothies & protein shakes
- veggies & hummus
- hard-boiled eggs
- crackers & peanut butter
- energy bites
Vitamins & Supplements
Despite our best intentions, we may not be able to meet all of our nutritional requirements through diet alone- especially when breastfeeding twins!
Vitamins and supplements can help bridge the gap between our nutritional intake and what our bodies need to thrive.
At the minimum, I would recommend taking a prenatal or postnatal vitamin and Vitamin D.
Please discuss any new vitamins or supplements with your healthcare provider.
Knowledge is power! Educating yourself about breastfeeding in general and breastfeeding twins will give you the confidence you need to breastfeed your twins.
I credit my ability to work through the many breastfeeding challenges my twins and I experienced to my breastfeeding knowledge.
Working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is strongly encouraged for all moms of multiples. I recommend working with an IBCLC who has experience supporting moms of multiples.
Not all breastfeeding professionals and IBCLCs are the same. During your twin pregnancy I encourage you to reserach IBCLCs in your area. Send an email inquiring about their experience with twins and multiples and the services they offer.
Breastfeeding twins is a full-time (+ over-time) job! You have just delivered two brand new babies either vaginally or c-section (or both!). You may or may not have other children at home. Support is necessary! Support looks different for every twin mom and every family.
During your twin pregnancy think of the support you would like postpartum and begin reaching out to arrange that support.
If you found this information helpful, share it with a fellow twin mom-to-be!