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HealthInfo Canterbury

Breastfeeding twins & triplets

Advantages of breastfeeding your twins or triplets

For the babies

For you

Will I have enough milk?

This is a common concern among mothers about to breastfeed twins or triplets.

The supply of milk adjusts to the demand. Mothers feeding twins or triplets can produce enough milk for their babies if breastfeeding and expressing regularly.

The more you breastfeed or express, the more adequate your milk supply will be. Information on expressing is available from midwifery nursing staff.

To produce this extra supply of milk you will need to eat more food and drink more fluids than usual.

How much extra?

You will need approximately 500 to 600 kcals per baby, each day. This is on top of the amount you would eat before you were pregnant.

This may mean eating six to eight times a day.

Include foods high in protein and calcium such as milk, yoghurt, cheese. (See below for how to get extra calcium.)

Your nutrient needs are very high, so make every food you eat count by choosing nutritious foods at all meal and snack times, instead of junk food.

How much is 500 to 600 kcal?

100 kcal snacks

200 kcal snacks

Vegetarian and vegan mothers

Ensure you eat two to three serves of protein-rich foods a day, such as eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, cheese, yoghurt, milk, or soy or rice milk. Nuts can be included for one serve a day.

One protein serve =

If you avoid milk products, alternative calcium sources are calcium-fortified soy or rice milks. However, you will still need a calcium supplement (600-1000 mg) to top you up if you are not having four to five serves of these each day.

If avoiding meat and dairy you are probably not getting any vitamin B12. This is very important for healthy growth and development, and the babies need to get this through your milk. Talk to your GP or dietitian about getting a vitamin B12 supplement.

Vitamins and minerals

Even if you are eating well, you may need some vitamin and mineral supplements while you are breastfeeding.

Iron

May be recommended by your midwife/doctor to build up your iron stores after delivery.

Iodine

Is recommended for all breastfeeding mothers to help their babies' brain development. Ask your midwife or GP for a prescription. Note some multivitamins already have iodine in them. Check the label.

Multivitamin and mineral supplement

To top you up on any nutrients you may not be getting enough of in your food.

Calcium

You may need a supplement if you eat little or no milk, cheese or yoghurt. See below for details.

Calcium

Calcium in the breast milk is important for the growth and formation of your babies' bones.

Your calcium needs while breastfeeding are similar to those for pregnancy.

The best sources are:

How to get your calcium

*Each serve = 200mg calcium

Food

Provides one serve* of calcium

Calci Trim milk

100 mL

Trim milk

150 mL

Yoghurt

1 pottle (150 g)

Cheese

2 slices (26 g)

High-calcium cheese slices

1 slice

Sardines

3 (36g)

Canned salmon

2 small tins (200 g)

Soy milk

150 mL

Rice milk

150 mL

Ice cream

1 cup

Muesli with nuts

¾ cup

Broccoli

1½ cups

Tofu

200 g (15 pieces)

Almonds

½ cup

Will altering my diet while breastfeeding prevent food allergies?

Restricted diets are not recommended and are difficult to maintain. If your babies do not have a family history of allergies, do not restrict these foods in your diet. The best way to avoid allergies is by breastfeeding your babies or providing expressed breast milk instead of formula, ensuring first foods are introduced around six months and avoiding cigarette smoke.

Current New Zealand guidelines are that first foods (such as infant cereals, puréed vegetables or meat) should be introduced one at a time when your babies are 6 months old. Breastfeeding while introducing these foods also helps to protect against allergies.

For information on starting solids see www.healthed.govt.nz.

For information about allergies visit www.allergy.org.au.

Fluids

You may find you get very thirsty.

Helpful societies

Developed from a patient information sheet issued by Nutrition Services, Women's and Children's Health, Christchurch Women's Hospital, ref. 6963. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated September 2016.

Page reference: 67935

Review key: HIMUP-67928