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Where to Start With Breastfeeding Twins and Multiples

How a Nipple Shield Can Help

Because babies born prematurely can have difficulty latching on correctly, they may not be able to breastfeed sufficiently to get enough milk. However, when all else has failed, a nipple shield may help. Studies have shown that using the nipple shield can help babies stay latched on to the breast until they are able to latch fully on their own.
A nipple shield, which is usually made out of silicon, rubber, or latex, is made to fit over the mother's nipple. The baby sucks on the shield instead of the actual nipple, and milk flows through the holes in the shield. With these shields, babies don't have to work as hard to stay latched on to the breast.
It is important to note, however, that nipple shields should be used wisely. In some cases, they can lessen the amount of milk the baby gets and may reduce breast milk supply if the baby is not getting as much milk as they would straight from the breast.
(Click Ins and Outs of Nipple Shields for more information on the research that has been done on using nipple shields in premature babies.)

Maintaining Milk Supply -- How Does Pumping Fit In?

Having twins and multiples often means premature infants, which in many cases, also means some extra care in the neonatal unit. If this happens, you may not be able to initiate breastfeeding immediately after birth. Thus enters the need to pump. You can still pump your breasts to initiate lactation, as your body will naturally begin the process of producing milk for both or all of your babies. Expressing this milk soon after birth is important to establish a good milk supply.
The first few days of lactation involve the production of colostrum (see All About Colostrum). This nutrient-rich liquid is thicker than breast milk, and many mothers may have more success by expressing these small drops by hand in the early hours and days following birth. Once your breast milk "comes in," however, using a mechanical pump can help increase milk supply and sustain adequate milk production for your babies' needs.
When a mother breastfeeds, the milk volumes are usually established by infant demand. However, if you have to pump, the volumes will be dependent on your motivation to express milk mechanically. Although it will vary, it is often recommended that mothers mimic a regular feeding pattern of approximately every two to three hours of breast stimulation for about 15 minutes per session throughout the day and night. Keeping a written record of how often you pump and the volumes expressed can help healthcare providers offer the most appropriate care for your little ones.
(Click The Whys and Hows of Expressing Breast Milk for more information.)
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