Sleep Tips for Multiples – Part 3
Feeding, feeding, always feeding – this is how you will feel as a breastfeeding and/or bottlefeeding mom of multiples. If you aren’t feeding you are prepping for the next feed by maybe pumping, cleaning said pump, prepping bottles and then cleaning said bottles. I think you get it, life with newborns plus 2, 3, 4 is all about feeding!
As you may have remembered way back in Sleep Tips part 1, I recommended trying to get our little ones on a routine of wake, eat, play, and sleep. This routine still works beautifully for those babies who were premature and are on scheduled feeds. It helps take the guess work out of it and yes it sometimes means we have to wake our sleeping babies at the “feed” time but that is OK. When they are able to make longer stretches you will have set them up for success by teaching them what to expect and they will have the skill of falling asleep on their own without a feed to “put” them to sleep. Again, our goal is to keep the feeds away from a sleep time so if we are “topping” up our littles ones before naps then be sure to feed them 30-45 minutes away from a sleep time.
Night feeds – same schedule or feed on demand
To me this is a loaded question with many parts but let’s delve into it a bit! If your babies were pre-term and are on a feeding schedule then it is a non-issue. We wake and feed every 2-3 hours (or whatever the doctor has recommended.) My first set of twins were 34 weeks and we were required to feed them every 3 hours so by the time we woke them, changed them, fed them (they didn’t have a strong suck so it sometimes could take up to an hour for them to finish a 3oz bottle), I pumped for the next feed (I bottle fed them at night so I knew what they were getting and they didn’t breastfeed well). I literally had an hour of sleep before having to wake them again. Exhaustion isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt. The reason I tell you this is because when I finally got the go ahead to let them wake on their own for feeds I was ecstatic, until they started waking at different times and I was basically up all night anyways. In this case I would highly recommend allowing them to sleep until they wake BUT once the first baby wakes, wake the other and feed them at the same time. Put them both back to bed at the same time and continue this until morning.
When they are biologically mature enough (adjusted) to sleep through the night and/or sleep for longer periods feel free to experiment a bit with allowing one to sleep if the other wakes. You may have one who will sleep through the night before the other – this is when I encourage you and your partner (if bottle feeding) to tag team. We each took a baby and alternated per night, so one night I had baby A and every time they woke I was on it, the next night I had Baby B and so on. If you are solely breastfeeding then I would recommend just keeping them on the same schedule. Yes one might be able to make it longer and of course give it a try, but I caution you that you may be up more often. When they are both ready to drop the night feed – then have at it and help them eliminate those night feeds!
I know there is a lot of information to digest, but being a multiples mom, you are already proficient at multitasking so I have all the faith in you that you can also get your lovely little ones on a great sleep schedule and finally get the rest you need and deserve too!