Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Eating well when breastfeeding twins & triplets

Breast milk provides the best food for your babies as they grow. It's the only food and drink they need for the first six months of their life. Even after six months, you can continue breastfeeding your babies while introducing other foods.

Breastfeeding has many important benefits for mothers and babies. You can read about these benefits on Why breastfeed?

Breastfeeding takes time to get going and there can be some challenges along the way. Most women say it can take up to six weeks to feel relaxed and confident about breastfeeding. It'll help if you can get support from your partner and whānau during this time.

There's a lot of information and support available to help you to learn how to breastfeed and answer any concerns you have. For more information see Who can help me to breastfeed?

Having enough milk

Whether they'll have enough milk is a common concern among mothers about to breastfeed twins or triplets.

Your supply of milk will adjust to what your babies need. 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.

Eating to produce enough milk

To produce enough milk, you'll need to eat more food and drink more fluids than usual.

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

This may mean eating six to eight times a day.

Regularly include protein- and calcium-rich foods such as dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese).

Your nutrient needs are very high, so choose healthy and nutritious foods at all meal and snack times.

Food examples

100 kcal snacks

200 kcal snacks

Vegetarian and vegan mothers

Ensure you eat two to three servings of protein-rich foods a day, such as eggs, legumes (such as baked beans, lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans), nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, dairy products and soy milk.

One serving is:

If you avoid dairy products, choose a calcium-fortified plant milk such as soy, almond or rice milk. You may still need a calcium supplement (600 to 1,000 mg) to top you up if you aren't having four to five serves of these each day.

If you avoid meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy, you and your babies won't get enough vitamin B12. Your babies get their vitamin B12 through your breast milk. Vitamin B12 is very important for you and for your babies' healthy growth and development. Talk to your GP or dietitian about getting a vitamin B12 supplement.

Vitamins and minerals

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

Iron

May be recommended by your midwife or GP to build up your iron stores after giving birth.

Iodine

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

Multivitamin and mineral supplement

May be recommended 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 dairy products.

Calcium

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

Your calcium needs while you're breastfeeding are similar to those during your pregnancy.

The best sources of calcium are:

How to get your calcium

Food

Provides one serving (200 mg) of calcium

Calci Trim milk (yellow top)

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)

Calcium-enriched soy milk, almond milk or rice milk

150 mL

Ice cream

1 cup

Muesli with nuts

¾ cup

Broccoli

1½ cups

Tofu

200 g

Almonds

½ cup

Prevent food allergies

Restricted diets aren't recommended and are difficult to maintain. If your babies don't have a family history of allergies, don't 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 and 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 Starting solids and feeding your baby.

For information about allergies see Allergies in children.

Fluids

You may find you get very thirsty.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

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. Last reviewed December 2020.

See also:

Breastfeeding

Community Māori health providers

Hospital services Māori health teams

Page reference: 67935

Review key: HIPRC-41255