Breastfeed Twins like Angelina Jolie: Secrets to Double the Reward in Half the Time!

08/08/2008 at 04:00 PM ET

Angelina_jolie150x200In their 3-week-old fraternal twins’ debut in the latest issue of PEOPLE, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt spoke about how breastfeeding both babies at the same time plays a part in managing the chaos. Angelina said, "They eat every three hours and I’m getting better at holding them both for [breast]feeding at the same time, so that helps. Usually, the other kids come in and hold them when they finish. They help with the baths and the changing." Brad added, "We try to get them to eat simultaneously for the sake of management, but it gets a little crowded at the bar!"

Angelina and Brad make nursing twins sound effortless (granted, Angelina had a head start by nursing Shiloh) but chances are, they prepared in advance, got help from a certified lactation consultant, and were motivated and psyched to succeed.

Here’s the good news: "Your body is designed to handle breastfeeding twins or even triplets, many moms have done it successfully," Bettina Forbes, CLC, of Best for Babes told us. Her co-founder Danielle Rigg, JD, CLC, added, "and with the right help and support, you can reap double the rewards and might even have double the fun."

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week and supporting women who want to breastfeed, we also spoke to Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, founder of the Newman Breastfeeding  Clinic and Institute, Lawrence Gartner, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics/Gynecology at the University of Chicago, founding member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, and Heather Kelly, MA, IBCLC, of the Manhattan Lactation Group.

Click Continue Reading for their best tips to succeed at breastfeeding twins. 

  • Get inspired and get your best game on. Danielle, of Best for Babes, tells us, "Prepare for breastfeeding like you would to run a race, plan a wedding, or interview for a job; take a breastfeeding class, and find local resources like lactation consultants and support groups." Bettina adds, "Watch a friend breastfeed successfully to be truly awestruck. We know of newborn twins who held hands while nursing!"
  • You can breastfeed if you have a c-section. Dr. Newman told us, "Most mothers should be able to breastfeed their twins exclusively if they get off to a good start and get good support. Unfortunately, a good start and good support are not always easy to get in most hospitals and most mothers are failed in their attempts. Having had a cesarean section should not be an obstacle it is often presented to be – again, with a good start and good support."
  • Twins need breastmilk twice as much. "For twins, receiving the health and developmental benefits of breastfeeding are even more important, because they tend to be premature and, therefore, at higher risk of infections," says Dr. Gartner.
  • If necessary, pump it up. If, like Angelina, you had a c-section, and your milk hasn’t come in yet, don’t panic – pump! – because it signals your body to make milk. Heather says, "as long as you’re pumping in lieu of a feeding at the breast, your milk supply won’t be hurt."
  • It takes patience. Heather tells us, "Nursing twins can be extremely rewarding but may be a bit trickier and take a little longer to master.  Because many twins are early or smaller, they may lack some stamina in the beginning. You can give yourself a break by with pumping and giving bottles of expressed breastmilk, particularly if you feel like the feedings are going on and on. Some moms even feed Twin A on both breasts at a feeding and then pump, while Twin B gets a previously pumped bottle of expressed breastmilk. Then, at the next feeding, the twins switch."
  • Know your positions. As Angelina mentions, she feeds both babies at the same time, but Bettina says, "she probably started out one at a time to pay close attention to getting a good latch. She most likely accomplishes simultaneous feedings using a twin football hold(click for a photo), with the top of their heads nearly touching,curled around her, with her legs pointing toward her back."
  • Prepare for the road ahead. The more confident you are of yourdecision and your ability to breastfeed, the more likely you are tosucceed. 
  • Finally, be gentle with yourself and with other moms. Most breastfeeding problems can be easily prevented and solved.  New moms don’t need more pressure or more guilt!

Do you have any tips for moms nursing multiples?

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Showing 33 comments

alice on

AWESOME post, Danielle! Thanks for providing moms with this information, there is so much misinformation out there about breastfeeding multiples. I love that CBB is so responsible about stuff like this! :)

Nika on

I already said this in another post, but I just wanna say again that I think it’s great that Angelina is breastfeeding her twins. With 4 other kids running around it will be chaotic I think. I have so much respect for this family!!
I’m breastfeeding my 5month old and I don’t have other children yet and sometimes that is already chaotic! But I love it, and wouldn’t trade it for anything!

(LOVE- J ) on

I got my people magazine.

N.S on

Fantastic post!
Thank you CBB for this, and being so supportive of breastfeeding, and sharing some very useful information.

Angelina is such a dedicated Mom, nursing two babies and looking after 4 of her other children must be a very hard job.

I do not have any tips for mothers nursing multiples, but I have praise!
Well done, well done, well done!

I am breastfeeding my 10 month old daughter, and it is STILL a full time job — to nurse 2 of them takes a very strong woman!

Sarah on

Yay for Angelina and all other nursing moms of twins!! I’m so proud of all of you! I wasn’t proud of J.Lo not nursing her twins, but realize it was her personal choice…I’ve had 2 myself (not at the same time) and couldn’t have imagined any other way to feed them. Viva la leche de la madre!

kelly on

Wonderful information! Thanks. Kudos to Angelina. Many moms of multiples give up quickly, but it sounds like she’s hanging in there! So great for her babies since they were preemies.

GIngi on

Talk about timely. I am expecting twins any day now and I am planning to breastfeed.

@ndie on

having breast fed my kids (all singletons), the only advice i can give is to focus on 1 feed at a time to start with, then maybe focus on 1 day at a time, 1 week & 1 month and by then you feel confident enough to either continue to breast feed or start with a bottle.

it doesnt matter if you do bottle feed in the end because you have given your baby many nutrients in the first few feeds/days/months as breast milk changes to suit your baby, but more importantly dont feel like a failure either way, as long as baby & you are happy, healthy and growing!!

Brian Pasch on

DO NOT PUBLISH The gown worn by Angelina Jolie in her People magazine pictorial was made by Eileen West and is called “La Stella”. They have an online store at http://www.eileenwest.com

Molly on

Someone I know once said breastfeeding is gross and if she wouldnt drink it myself why should she let her kids. I hated her for that comment for a very long time. BF is still the best thing out there and Im sorry for those who can’t (yet alone don’t want)

andrea on

I saw on tv a show whos the woman still breastfeeding her 8 years old daugther,they have the video at youtube.Thats too much…and wrong.
I still breastfeeding my 4 years old son,I am plannig stop soon.

Emomily on

Bravo Angie!

I have 11 month fraternal twin boys whom I have been nursing exclusively. The trick is the nursing pillow. There’s one brand of nursing pillows designed for nursing tandem that I’ve seen pop up again and again. It’s called the EZ-2-Nurse.

I’ve used mine since day one and it rocks! I hope Angelina can get her hands on one because using regular pillows to try to prop the babies up is waaaay to hard.

Kelly on

I love how mothers are quicky attacked if they do not OR CAN NOT for that matter breastfeed. People are brainwashed with this thought that EVERYONE can and your just a horrible mother if you cant. It never occures to people that there are people with low milk supply, or for personal reasons can not. If your on a medication or have a disability.

You are all praising Angelina like shes a saint for feeding twins when she has 4 other children and how hard it must be.

Yes I am aware it’s hard. But “normal” families do not have 5 nannies helping out.

Leah123 on

I breastfed my twins for a month (well, pumped mostly since they were preemies and never quite latched on) and I admire women who are able to do it for any length of time. It takes a great support system to take care of pretty much anything else in the house since it is so time consuming. I am sure Angelina Jolie has that support, but I’d just like to say that not all women do and whatever you can achieve, taking it day by day, is great!

Sasha, USA on

my girlfriend has fraternal twin girls and really perfected the “football” hold. she was a single mom from 3 weeks old too! The girls just turned 6 and are absolutely great.

Christy on

We’re going on 15 months breastfeeding our twins, who have never had formula. There were times that it was challenging, but all in all it has been a wonderful experience! One of the greatest things moms expecting twins can do to increase their chances of success with breastfeeding is to avoid an unnecessary preterm or near term birth. Even 37-39 week babies sometimes aren’t fully ready if they didn’t go into labor naturally, and can have nursing difficulties. Also, finding a supportive community of BTDT moms (like I found at the Naturally Parenting Twins site I entered) can REALLY keep you going when you feel discouraged.

Kudos to Brad and Angie for helping show that it is possible to nurse multiples!

courtney on

My twin girls will be 1 in September. They are my 3rd and 4th breastfed babies and we started while still in the recovery room after my c-section. My best tips are get a twin size nursing pillow and a comfy over sized chair. For the most part I always feed the girls at the same time. I have two other children, so same time feedings work best for us. Some people swear by feeding them individually. I think the most important thing is to trust your body and your instincts. Mommy knows best!

laura on

I am SO delighted to hear Angie being so open about her breastfeeding. It’s so great to have these women, who have so much influence in this world (like it or not) being such great role models for things like breastfeeding.
My daughter is 26 months and still breastfeeding (okay, even *I* am ready to wean at this point, but she is not, so we’ll keep going one day at a time) – the rewards of this relationship are so huge. Even though it is a major challenge at times, the benefits show in her health (she’s been sick ONCE in her two years of life) and her behavior (breastfeeding has a blessedly calming affect on a grumpy toddler).
I applaud Angie for speaking out about her breastfeeding attempts and I’m glad to see CBB posting these kind of helpful articles.

Courtney on

I am still breastfeeding my three year old twins, and it has been an awesome ride! Before they were born I read that to feed infant twins separately would take about 15 hours a day, so I was committed to doing it at the same time. Despite a slight difficulty with milk production at the beginning (totally normal with twins as your body tries to catch up), it has been quite simple and a great experience for all of us.

I highly recommend it to any mom -twins or singletons!

dsmom on

I agree with the posts above. When you have a c section, does your milk not naturally come in? I had a natural birth so I wasn’t aware of this?

SJ on

Who is Brad referring to when he says “we” I don’t see him breastfeeding.

N.S on

Courtney!

Wow. Breatfeeding twins for 3 years, well done!
They must be very healthy little ones, what an inspiration.

emily on

dsmom, when the baby travels down the birth canal it sends a signal to the brain to produce the hormones that stimulate milk production. However, breastfeeding can be initiated successfully no matter what kind of birth a woman has had. Studies have found that the two most important factors leading to a successful breastfeeding relationship are; putting the baby to the breast immediately after birth (within 30 min., often babies delivered by c-section are taken away from the mother and given formula, two things that will greatly hamper breastfeeding initiation) and the amount of support the new mom receives. I happen to think that the support of friends, family and community are invaluable. With enough support a new mom can do anything.

Jennifer on

That’s great that she’s breastfeeding twins! I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I nursed my 2 boys that were 22 months apart for 18 months. It’s not the same as nursing twins – probably easier, since the older one could wait, but we tandem nursed many of the times.

Heather on

I found that nursing my twins together during the day and separately at night saved time and let me sleep more. I kept the babies in bed with me and nursed them as the woke so that I could sleep through it without getting up. During the day I kept pillows handy for positioning and when one was hungry I’d nurse them both. They are 2 now and still nursing and I’m a few weeks away from having my second set of twins-who will also be breastfed!

jeanne measom on

I am mother of six kids–and my last two are 5 month old identical twins. Have been breastfeeding them as well–hope to continue for some time. Its great that Angelina is breast feeding–twins are much harder to feed yourself-and there isn’t the same enjoyment as with singletons!! But for me now its easy they are on solids.

jeannem on

I have six kids that last two of which are 5 month old identical twins. I have breastfed all of mine for around the first year. The twins are hard going but now they are on solids its much easier–i have a 1 1/2 year old as well-so its all go. Its great to see someone so high profile as her breastfeeding–but in fairness must be much easier having the money for all the help she needs!!!

mimil on

Wow…there are some amazing moms on this blog. I am the proud mother of 14 month old fraternal twin girls. I had an emergency-C and both were small and not doing so well, so they were taken away immediately. The nursing was so hard at first and they didn’t bring me both kids when it as time to nurse, so they got some formula and then it was really easy for this super tired mom to continue supplementing. However, I really wanted to nurse, so I got lactation consultants twice. Once at a week and once at 6 weeks. At six weeks, the woman from LaLeche laughed at me and said just throw out the supplemental milk and you’ll see you’ll have enough milk. I stopped everything for about a week and threw myself into the nursing (and that meant good eating and drinking enough water)-and voila-she was right :). I threw out the bottles and we have been having “nursing parties” ever since.
My advice for future parents of twins who want to nurse. Have a plan, but be flexible. You don’t know how your delivery will go-don’t get discouraged early and freak out. Just go with the flow and try to be calm-you are likely to have a panic attack from lots of other things in those first few weeks anyway. Get a great nursing pillow, a chair that is good for you and make space in your heart. Those first few weeks/months require a lot of time and patience. If you can nurse tandem, you’ll get a lot more sleep time for yourself and your kids will have a special bond. You must eat well and drink enough. Esp. if you are giving birth in the summer. At some point, each kid is drinking a liter of milk from you a day and you need a liter for yourself, so you have to drink 3 liters at a minimum. I generally nursed them sep. at night and also during the day now too (although they nurse on demand during the day with one really wanting to stay nursing and one not so interested anymore except at night). My final comment-give each of them a side and stick to it. In all fairness, the jury is out on this and other people might say differently, but here was my reason: I tried the other way (switching each kid each nurse) but I was slightly uneven and they each ate consistently different amounts (in addition to not being able to remember who I had nursed and on which side) and I would get engorged or be empty at each feed. Instead, I gave each kid a side that they seemed to like best. My daughter who ate more, still does and so she got the more side. They were both born at (or below) the 5th percentile. By 3 months and after 2 months of exclusive nursing, they were both in the 95th percentile. At 14 months, they haven’t really been ill or even ever had an ear infection, they eat everything, nap well and are pure happiness and joy for me. And yes, they regularly hold hands or tickle each other while nursing. Whatever your decision, just enjoy your twins and welcome to the MOT club!

Allison on

I breastfed twins for 9 months and it was a great experience. I think the key is having enough milk for twins. If you have a good enough supply, anyone can do it. It does take a lot of time, but I fed mine at the same time almost every feeding. That saved a lot of time – especially since I had a toddler who needed attention.

alma on

My mom breastfed twins 45 years ago and was a true anomaly! Thanks for making it seem like a healthy and possible way to go to nourish and bond with your multiples. Great article and thanks for writing it!
Alma

Karen Gromada on

Re: tips for breastfeeding twins and higher multiples — I hope it’s OK to suggest a book I wrote (and La Leche League publishes) entitled Mothering Multiples: Breastfeeding and Caring for Twins or More, which is based on all the info shared over a couple of decades by mothers of twins, triplets and (a few sets of) quads at our special LLL group just for mothers of multiples. (Latest edition/revision is 2007.) Our LLL group is still meeting and those of us leading the group are constantly learning from these moms. I also have a lot of info/tips about breastfeeding twins and other multiples at my web site http://www.karengromada.com. Of course, I’m also a mom of twins — identical (MZ) boys.

Main tips:
1. Be persistent! Learning to work as a breastfeeding trio (mom plus 2 infants) requires more of a learning curve — but once everyone gets it, it’s so much easier — always available, ready in an instant day or night, free, etc. — and so worth it.
2. If having to pump because babies were early or needed extra time to figure out breastfeeding, RENT a breast pump. Mom will get more milk in less time than with even the best “personal” purchased pump.
3. Partial breastfeeding beats no breastfeeding. If physical or family situations don’t allow for exclusive breastfeeding, some breastfeeding (or mom’s milk) is always better than none!

Hang in…

Karen G

Andrea on

thanks everyone for all of the advice! I breastfed my 9 year old daughter Ava until she was about 3 years old (thanks to the pump of course and the help of my husband, family, and friends). I also did the exact same thing for my 6 year old son Cameron, and now working on breastfeeding again our newborns, identical boy and girl adopted from Ireland, little Connor & Addison. It has been a rough start, but well forfilling to get this extra time with the twins as infants to give our relationships an extra boost!

Well done Angelina and Brad! Vivienne & Knox are too cute!

Seraphim on

THANK YOU!
A magazine who writes a good baby-feeding article!! Bravo!

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