An expectant father of twins asked me: “How do I help my wife with feeding responsibilities, especially since we have a 1.5-year-old as well?”
Even though feeding time with twins can get crazy, I enjoyed the opportunity to help feed my infant daughters. With our previous singleton births, my wife was able to handle the feeding and I never really got to participate. With twins, the extra work necessitated my help, and it was a rewarding experience to be able to hold my daughter and feed her (yes, even in the middle of the night).
How can you help your wife feed the twins?
It depends on how you’ll be feeding them. Will your wife be breast-feeding the babies or will you be bottle-feeding formula to your twins?
Consider all the steps your wife will need to take to breast-feed your twins simultaneously. Here is a simplified list:
- Get seated
- Position the pillow(s) to support the babies
- Pick up and position one baby on one side
- Pick up the other baby and position her on the other side
- Get baby #1 to latch and start feeding
- Get baby #2 to latch and start feeding
- When baby #1 finishes, mop up any spills and help burp
- When baby #2 finishes, mop up any spills and help burp
- Return babies to original location (crib, blanket on floor, etc.)
Sorry, Dad, you won’t be able to breast-feed your babies. However, in this case, you will play a critical supporting role. As you’ll notice in the list above, many of the steps can be handled by you. You can help bring the twins to your wife and get them positioned. You can help clean up and burp your babies. And you even get diaper duty.
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Ideally, your wife would breast-feed the twins simultaneously. Otherwise, she will feel like she is always feeding your twins without any breaks.
If for some reason your babies aren’t able to breast-feed directly, your wife may end up pumping breast milk that can then be bottle-fed to your babies. There will be a greater opportunity to help here as well.
Whether your babies are drinking breast milk or formula from a bottle, the logistics of bottle feeding are almost identical.
The big difference is in the preparation of the bottles. The formula may be a powder that needs to be mixed up. Breast milk may come out of the freezer and need to be warmed up first.
Because our daughters had a hard time latching on for breastfeeding, we ended up bottle-feeding them. Most of the time we’d have each adult feed one baby. If you are able to mimic this same pattern, you as the father will be able to easily help your wife. You can prepare the bottles and feed a baby while she helps with the other.
If you have helpers staying with you, you can rotate overnight feeding responsibilities. Or if it is just you and your wife, you may want to take turns with the night shift to let each other rest.
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What Happens With the Other Kids?
When you have other kids in the house, things get complicated. They will need attention during almost every feeding, except perhaps the middle-of-the-night feeds.
In these cases, your responsibility may be to take care of the siblings instead of directly helping with feeding the twins. When you remove the burden of the other children from the person feeding the twins, feeding time becomes a little easier.
You Can Help Feed Your Twins
Even though Dads aren’t built to directly feed babies, you can still be a great help and assistance to your wife regardless of what your babies are eating. Talk through feeding options with your wife and clearly state how you want to help. If you leave the decision to the last minute, when the babies are crying in the middle of the night, you won’t be able to make a clear decision. Decide now how you will feed your babies and what your role will be.
Picture by Ryan Grimm
(NOTE: Still expecting? Get weekly updates on your twin pregnancy here.)