So you have had the news that you are expecting twins. Once you’ve got over the shock it’s time to think about the practicalities, and what you need to buy. Many parents wish to tandem feed their babies in order to save time and deal with two hungry babies! But are the twin breastfeeding pillows necessary? And if they are, which one is the best one to buy? They are not cheap so it is important to get it right. When you have the correct one they can make tandem feeding so much easier, especially in double rugby hold (one baby under each arm) but they can be used for other feeding positions too. If the babies are held at the correct height on the cushion you can actually feed hands free, meaning you can actually and drink your tea warm! But which one you buy is a very personal choice and often you need to think about your body shape before deciding. Your lap to nipple measurement (I bet you didn’t think you’d ever be measuring that!) makes a lot of difference. And this depends very much on the length of your upper body, and how your breasts fall. If you are tall with perky, small boobs, you may find you need a lot of extra cushions to make some of the lower brands work. We did a survey on the Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets Facebook group to see if we could glean any useful information.
There are five main brands available. The first four are the traditional U shape, (listed from thinnest to highest) and the last one is M shaped.
This feeding pillow has been a mainstay of the twin feeding world for a long time now. It has a breastfeeding side and a bottle feeding side. On the breastfeeding side there is quite a big slope from outside to inside which helps prevent the babies from rolling off. However this pillow is the lowest of all sloping from 15cm down to 11 cm on the inside. Many parents find they need to add extra cushions to raise it up high enough. It is also the smallest on the inside diameter of the U, so not so good if you’re on the tall side. This pillow suits shorter people, or those with lower hanging breasts. A lap to nipple measurement of 15-17cm seems to work best. Some find it’s difficult to use as the babies get older as it is quite narrow. It comes with detachable back cushion and a wipeable surface, although this can be a bit sweaty in hot weather. You may find you need extra cushions behind as babies get longer.
My Brest Friend Twin Cushion. (Currently US import only)
This pillow is a little higher. It has a nice soft feel and is comfy for the babies. It is a little wider which makes it feel more secure and less likely for the babies to roll off. It also has quite a large inner diameter so is good for larger people. This pillow slopes from around 15cm on the outside to 12 cm on the inside and suits a medium height, or medium breasts. A lap to nipple measurement 17-21cm and a larger frame would probably suit this cushion. It has washable covers and comes with attached back cushion but you may find you need extra support behind as it’s quite narrow.
San Diego Bebe Twin Cushion. (Currently US import only)
This is another sort of medium height feeding pillow. Lovely brushed finish and comfy for the babies. It is a slightly wider pillow so lots of room for bigger babies. You can use it with an “apron” attached for modesty, although sometimes the babies are not so keen to be covered up. It has washable covers and a back cushion that is removable. The pillow slopes from around 15cm outside to 12cm inside. Again this pillow would suit a medium height or medium boobs. A lap to nipple measurement of 17-21cm would suit this cushion.
Peanut and Piglet.
This is a firm, high feeding pillow. It is still around 15cm high above the knees but is higher at the back and so keeps the babies more horizontal. Because of its firmness the babies are held at a slightly higher height, so this pillow suits taller ladies or small perky boobs. A lap to nipple measurement of around 22-26cm would suit this pillow. Taller people may still need to lift it a little. This cushion does not seem to work as well on the bed as it is so form, better on the sofa when parent’s legs are not out in front of them.
Peanut and Piglet now have a petite version of their feeding pillow. This will be much more suited to the shorter-bodied parent or those with lower lower hanging breast!
There is a guide on their website as to which height would suit you better.
Twin Z. (US import only, however there are many UK copies available)
It took me quite a while to work out how this M shaped pillow from the USA worked. So the official way of using it is to start with the cushion standing vertically in the W position behind your back, then fold down the two outer prongs, the middle “prong” of the W becomes a back support. Then the two outside prongs are where the babies lie. There is a strap to pull the two prongs together to prevent there being a big gap for babies to fall into. It is a fairly low pillow, 20cm at the back but only 12cm at the front. Unless you are short or have droopy breasts you will probably find you need extra cushions to raise it up. They often work very well in combination with a bed pillow across the lap. And I find them good for using in bed as they are softer and malleable. There are bootlegs available in the UK but they do not have the front strap to hold it together, you could sew on a strap or ribbon. And some are quite small and do not work well for feeding, so be careful.
It is important to remember that all parents and babies are different and some cushions will not suit some situations. Some parents prefer to just use a V shaped pillow, or a beanbag style pillow or a combination of normal pillows from the bed. Others find they can still use a single feeding pillow. Others prefer to find other tandem feeding positions where you don’t need to use a pillow at all, like a double laid back position for example. Some just don’t like tandem feeding or their babies don’t like tandem feeding! So the point I am trying to make is that you don’t really know what will suit you until the babies actually make an appearance.
There is a very healthy twin breastfeeding pillow second hand market. So if you do buy the wrong one you will find you can sell it on very easily. Or if you would prefer not to risk so many pounds, then buy second hand in the first place and save money. Many pillows are barely used and are in great condition. There are often For Sale posts on Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK Facebook group, other twins Facebook groups or marketplace, also on the Twins Trust “for sale” forum for members, local twins clubs and of course auction and second hand websites. And if you don’t get on with the pillows or don’t get on with tandem feeding, they make a great support for babies learning how to sit up.
Kathryn Stagg IBCLC, updated May 2021