It's likely that up to this point in your babies lives, you may have gone through many ways of feeding including tube feeding, expressing, top-ups, bottle and breast. The most important thing to remember when you get home is not to put too much pressure on yourself. If the way you're feeding the babies is becoming too difficult and putting too much strain on the family, it's important to be open and honest. There's no right or wrong way to feed them; you must do what's right for you and your family.
The Office for Product Safety and Standards has issued an Urgent Safety Alert for baby self-feeding pillows and is urging the public to stop using them immediately and dispose of them safely.
Self-feeding pillows/prop feeders present a risk of serious harm or death from choking or aspiration pneumonia.
Some other things to consider as a triplet or more parent:
This is feeding more than one baby at a time. When your babies are tiny many triplet parents find tandem feeding very difficult. This does become easier and more possible the bigger and older they get. Feeding pillows and bouncy chairs are very useful aids when starting to feed more than one baby at once. However, feeding three babies by yourself at the same time is not advised. By having the babies on a slightly different feeding schedule (approx. 30 minutes apart) allows you to have time to feed each baby individually to start with. This does take time however, so enlisting some help is advised in the early days. Section 2 of the feeding more than one booklet discusses further ways to tandem breast feed successfully. Section six is also dedicated to triplets.
- "I fed two in bouncy chairs and then fed the other baby in my arms-make sure you rotate this baby for cuddles and to enjoy feeding and bonding individually."
- "I fed two at once-my other baby was in the rocker that I could bounce with my foot which seemed to work reasonably well."
- "You can’t cuddle three babies at once and feeling guilty about this is normal, making sure you have plenty of different ways to settle them does help, for example dummies, music, white noise, bouncy chairs, pram, slings. Each baby may prefer a different method so it can be a bit of trial and error until you find what works for each individual baby."
It's possible to breastfeed three babies and as with bottle feeding three, you need to make sure that one is able to wait. Your breastfeeding may also look slightly different to those who breastfeed a singleton. For example, one baby might not latch on so will get your expressed breast milk from a bottle. The other two might feed well on the breast but one might then start to reject it, which leaves just one feeding from the breast and two expressed from the bottle.
You may find expressing very difficult and stressful and so formula feeding is the way that works best for you and your babies. These situations can produce some feelings of guilt or failure if it hasn't gone exactly the way you planned. It's normal to feel like this. However, you need to know that you're doing the best job you can and caring for three or more babies sometimes means that the best laid plans need to be adapted. If you feel strongly about a certain way to feed, then get the necessary support to help to make this possible.
We have a team of breastfeeding peer supporters with experience of feeding more two or more babies who are also available to support you.
Prop feeding is not advised. Self-feeding pillows/prop feeders present a risk of serious harm or death from choking or aspiration pneumonia. By prop feeding your babies they can have extra wind as they may take in too much air due to gulping. In addition, babies being fed lying down can lead to ear infections. Feeding is a great bonding experience, and it is important when bottle feeding your babies to pay close attention to them as they will show you when they have had enough and if the flow is too fast etc. When you have three or more babies there is always one that must wait which can be difficult especially if they are upset and crying. Some parents may be tempted to prop the bottle so they can start the feed and prevent the baby getting in distress. There are products on the market that help with this and we totally understand why they would be tempting but we would not advise using these. What we would advise is:
- Keep to your schedule
- Make sure the baby who was fed first the feed before, isn't having to wait until the end next feed
- Keep an eye on your babies hunger cues and start feeding the first baby as soon as you see them
- Have the baby who is waiting easily accessible so they can be distracted and soothed by your voice, dummy, singing or any other distraction whilst waiting. We would advise you make all the feeds up at once (unless you are taking longer than the advised length of time for bottles to be made up for) this means that you are ready to go with number 3 as quick as possible
Bouncy chairsThese are a really useful piece of equipment for triplet parents as they act as another person to hold the babies. Bear in mind that when your babies first come home they will most probably be quite small so make sure when choosing a chair it is suitable from birth and check the weights. As they get older they will be able go in any chairs so I would consider only buying one or two to start with and then get another as they get bigger. (The ones for bigger babies are also often cheaper so this will also save you some money).
Feeding pillowsYou can buy double feeding pillows but many triplet parents find investing in two single ones can often be more useful as you can have one baby either side of you and still hold one. The double ones are great for feeding two babies at once but you generally have to sit in front of them which makes it difficult if you are holding baby number 3! This again isn’t essential and it might be worth buying one single one first to see if your babies like them. Again be mindful of the babies size, they often work better as the babies get a bit bigger also it is not advised to let them sleep in them.
Your health visitor or midwife will be able to advise you on different feeding strategies. We also have our team of breastfeeding peer supporters who have experience with multiples and the hard decisions around breast and bottle feeding.
For more information please visit the NHS website for feeding advice.