Q&A with physical therapist, birth coach, and twin mom Dr. Betsey Caldwell
For any new mom, the news that you’re carrying twins is sure to come as a surprise – and with it, a lot of uncertainty. Even for the most seasoned parents, navigating life with two newborns comes with a huge learning curve, especially when it comes to feeding.
We sat down with Dr. Betsey Caldwell, a birth coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and founder of The Push Lab, to hear about her experience caring for and feeding her own twin baby girls. Below, you’ll get her expert insight both as a professional pre- and postnatal care provider and twin mom on the best ways to support yourself through this exciting yet challenging time.
How is it so far, being a mom of twins?
Being a mom of twins is the hardest but most rewarding journey! Now that they are 8 weeks old, they smile and coo at each other and it is amazing to see their little sisterhood blossoming before my very eyes. I won’t lie, I feel a little in over my head at moments but what parent doesn’t feel that? I am keeping my eyes on the future and know that it will be so fun to watch them grow up together.
How does your breastfeeding journey this time compare with that of your previous babies?
Breastfeeding twins is a skill I am slowly learning! I know it’s important to focus on a good latch and that can be hard when you are trying to tandem feed. With my first two children, nursing came easily without much thought. With twins, I have had to learn how to set up tandem feeding and burping them by myself. It’s always easier if my husband or mom is around to help me with the pillow set up but I imagine this will get easier as the twins gain better head and neck control.
How does it work logistically to feed two babies?
I feed on demand or at least every two hours during the day. At night, if one baby wakes up, I will wake the other twin so I can tandem feed them at the same time. My husband wakes up as well and he helps by handing me each baby while I am already sitting in the chair. Then, we burp the babies and cross our fingers they will both go back to sleep so we can sleep too!
I know some twin moms keep a breastfeeding journal but since I feed them at the same time, I don’t have to worry about either baby missing a feed.
How do you get the support you need to comfortably feed and hold the twins?
I was pleasantly surprised that my bbhugme Pregnancy Pillow has doubled as a breastfeeding pillow for me. I’m able to wrap the pillow around me and support one twin per side with my arms resting comfortably on the pillow. The pregnancy pillow has also come in handy for contact naps (which my twins love) by providing me with upper body support for my head, neck, and shoulders. My husband loves the support the pillow gives him for contact naps, too!
If I am nursing one twin at a time, the Nursing Pillow is great for laid back nursing. This is a nursing position that allows mom to recline with the baby on top of her. It is a relaxing position for both mom and baby, but my arm still needs additional support. This is where the nursing pillow comes in handy.
What are your must-have/survival items for feeding twins?
I recommend having a power recliner chair so you can comfortably get into the right position for laid-back feeding and tandem feeding. As mentioned above, I use the bbhugme Pregnancy Pillow for tandem feeding and contact naps and the bbhugme Nursing Pillow for feeding one baby at a time. With twins, it is good to have options. Sometimes, you will want tandem feed. Sometimes, you won't. So it's great to have multiple pillows and nursing stations throughout the house!
It is also helpful to have a swing or bouncer nearby so you can feed one and have the other comfortably upright and within your view so you can engage, smile, or sing a song with the baby who is not currently feeding.
How does the bbhugme Nursing Pillow compare to other pillows you’ve used?
The other pillows I’ve used require you to sit more upright, rather than laid back and relaxed. Unfortunately with those pillows, they require additional pillows to be truly “upright”, leading to moms to assume a hunched-over posture. This can lead to muscle and joint pain, which no mom wants to deal with!
As a physical therapist, what features do you look for in a nursing pillow to provide the right kind of support to both mom and baby?
As a physical therapist, it’s important that my patients learn how to relax during nursing. This helps with milk let down and bonding. I love that the bbhugme Nursing Pillow contours perfectly to both mom's and baby’s body. Because it’s not rigid, it is the perfect pillow for upright or laid-back nursing. The bbhugme pillow supports us in a variety of positions thanks to its adjustable height. Variability in feeding positions is important for both mom and baby’s bodies. This leads to less aches and pains as the nursing journey continues.
What’s the one piece of advice would you give to a mom-to-be expecting twins?
Be patient with yourself and your babies. Learning how to feed, hold, and care for two babies at the same time takes time and patience. During these early postpartum months, my mantra is “we are trying our best.” It’s not easy but remembering that you (and your twins) are not perfect helps lighten any expectation of how you think this journey *should* be going.
About Dr. Betsey Caldwell
Betsey Caldwell is a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in women’s health and labor and delivery. She is the founder of Yes Mama Co. And creator of the Push Lab, a virtual birth course. Her birth class has helped women globally prepare for birth physically, mentally, and spiritually. Betsey is passionate about women feeling their best during each stage of motherhood. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest as @drbetseypt.