So you had your twins and just started the gratifying yet grueling job of feeding two tiny humans at the same time. You may or may not have focused on how much to eat when you were cooking your lil’ cherubs, but now that they are staring back at you expectantly, chances are you’re paying attention. What should you be eating, and how much should you eat to properly supply your breastfeeding buffet? Can you actually make enough milk to feed not one but TWO hungry twins?
We are happy to tell you that the human body is amazing and with a little effort and perseverance, most people can make enough food for two.
Breastfeeding is more of an art than a science, so you’ll have to finesse how you nourish and care for yourself to optimize your milk supply. Hopefully these tips will get you going.
Hungry? Of course you are. You are feeding THREE people! While breastfeeding twins, you want to balance out your caloric intake.
The general rule is that you will burn an additional 500 calories while nursing one baby. Thus, for twins you will probably be looking to add around 1000 extra calories to your diet to provide enough nutrition for the three of you.
Remember that this is just a ballpark number and will vary depending on metabolism, fat reserves, and activity level. If you aren’t the type to keep calorie counts, don’t fret. Simply listen to your body/appetite and respond to hunger cues accordingly.
Have you ever thought you were hungry for a snack only to realize that you were actually parched and in need of some high-quality H2O? Sometimes it is hard for us to listen to the signals and get it right, especially when we are sleep deprived and having a difficult time meeting our basic needs. There is no hard and fast number on how much extra liquid is needed for nursing, and upping water intake doesn’t necessarily correlate to greater supply. But, water does matter, and you need to be mindful to get enough.
The best rule of thumb is drinking to satisfy thirst. Don’t forget that hydration needs can be met from many sources including fruits, vegetables, soups, milk, and teas.
Keep beverages easily accessible in your nursing hot spots and it’ll be easy peasy to stay hydrated.
Now that you have any idea of how much to be eating and drinking, let’s hit on what you should eat and drink. Focus on having a well-balanced diet of nutrient dense foods that includes a good portion of healthy fats (avocado anyone?).
Lactogenic foods are foods that help to increase milk supply. There are tons of good choices out there, but here are some of our favorites. Oats and barley are popular choices to hit your whole grains. Almonds and fruits such as dried dates and apricots are the perfect easy lactogenic snacks on the fly (or toppings to your bowl of oats). Legumes, dark leafy greens, and rich broths have also been shown to beef up that milk supply.
Galactogogues such as flax seed, fennel seed, fenugreek, moringa powder, and brewers yeast are also shown to potentially increase your milk supply.
A word of caution. There are actually a few foods such as thyme, parsley, spearmint, peppermint, cabbage leaves, sage, oregano, black walnut, sorrel, periwinkle herb, chickweed, yarrow, lemon balm, etc. that have been shown to reduce supply. Be mindful of these so that you don’t kill your efforts to maintain your milk.
And while you are probably anxious to get that baby weight off as quickly as possible, don’t rush to restrict calories or your milk supply will likely suffer.
Once you establish a healthy supply, you can play around with your food intake and see what works best for slowly and safely shedding those twin pounds. It’s all about balance. You don’t want to restrict too much, yet you don’t want to use nursing as an excuse to spend every day at the all you can eat buffet and wonder why you aren’t progressing towards a healthier weight.
As frustrating as that muffin top might feel, remember you body just underwent a miracle and this time of being your twins' sole source of nourishment and comfort is both short and precious.
We hope that you feel confident in your body’s ability to feed your twins.
Rest up, hydrate, eat nutrient dense lactogenic foods, and listen to your hunger ques. Your amazing body will take care of the rest as you spread the feast for your twins!