I got a question this week: what do you handle the situation when you want to breastfeed your newborn twins but one twin is in the NICU (the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital) and the other twin is at home?
Twins in NICU
Twins can end up in the NICU for various reasons. Primarily, because twins are typically born earlier than singleton babies. At birth, they can have different weights, sizes, and health needs. In some cases, one of your twins will go into the NICU and the other will not. Or both twins will go into the NICU and then one of them will come home earlier than the other.
Supplying Breast Milk
The logistics of having one baby in the NICU are difficult as your attention is divided between home and the baby that’s at home and the hospital with the other baby that’s in the NICU.
If you want to breastfeed your babies and one is in the NICU, you will need to pump breast milk to help feed your NICU baby. When you go to visit your baby at the NICU, if the baby is making good progress and the nurses and the hospital allow it, you can breastfeed one twin in the NICU. Otherwise, you can resupply the NICU with mom’s breast milk so that the nurses can feed the baby breast milk when you are not there.
I will definitely recommend that you recruit family or friends to come and help feed the NICU baby or take care of your other baby back at home while you are in the other location. This enables you to be in two places at once.
Build up your supply of breast milk that you would like to feed your babies. You can store that at home safely in the fridge or the freezer and then make sure you take that with you to the NICU for the nurses to use. With a lot of pumping, it may be necessary to upgrade or rent one of the heavy duty breast pumps from the hospital rather than the cheaper, more commercially available pumps you may find at the store.
Breastfeeding one twin in the NICU and the other at home is possible, just plan your logistics and schedule and you can make it happen.
I talk more about the challenges of feeding twins in Chapter 4 of my book, the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
This topic was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Episode 83: Baby Gear You Don’t Need, First-Time Dad Expectations, Breastfeeding NICU Twin. Original photo by Stefan Malmesjö