Monday, October 1, 2012

Just because you have two boobs....

.... does NOT mean breast feeding twins is easy.

 I went into breast feeding our twins much like I went into gestating two babies, with very few expectations. Let me also be clear, the expectations I did have were more negative than positive. I assumed it would be VERY difficult and I prepared myself (as a PCOSer) to have a small/ if even existent supply.

This doesn't mean I didn't prepare for the best. I bought a double electric pump, a twin breast feeding pillow and a couple of boppys. I even went as far as to purchase milk freezing bags.... ha, that last one is funny!

I hoped for the best. I wanted the best, but I never wanted to breast feed at the expense of not enjoying EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE with my babies. I know some of you are thinking- 'it doesn't have to be one or the other', and while that is true in some situations I will tell you soon how it is the truth in others.

While we were in the hospital we heard from countless people that I really need to learn to tandem feed. These people told me that if I didn't tandem, I'd most likely not continue breast feeding. I tried, and it was just too hard. It wasn't at all a bonding experience with my babies, I saw it only as a time saver, because otherwise (for me) it was more like being a cow than a mommy. In addition to it not being a warm and fuzzy experience, it was logistically a nightmare for me- a large chested woman. Not only did I need to keep my babies positioned on the pillow correctly, I also needed to keep them awake and eating (as to not make this a drawn out event!), and most importantly I needed to hold my boob in order to not suffocate my poor children on their food source. Tell me, does it sound like I have enough hands for this?!?

So, what did we do? We did what was best for us and threw all other advice out. I nurse each of my boys individually every three hours during the day and every 4 hours at night. The nursing/burping/diapering routine takes us about 1 hour, so if the boys get to sleep quickly following a feed I have 2-3 hours to sleep/relax/eat/shower before we do it all over again. I promise it feels much more like 10-15 minutes than it does like a couple of hours.

The boys both lost a decent amount of weight after birth and were slow to gain it back. Our ped. was concerned and gave us a couple of options. 1. Supplement with formula (probably forever) or 2. Seek the help of a lactation consultant and go from there. This is when I have to say I was much more committed to enjoying my boys than I was to breast feeding. I'm guessing anyone who has/had an infant can understand how difficult it was to get out of the house to an appointment. In the words of my OB, 'this is one of the many times with twins that 1+1 DOES NOT = 2'. Though I take my boys out relatively often, I couldn't get on board with committing to lactation appointments a couple of times per week in order to get things moving int he right direction. Going out in the early days was something of an all day event. We'd prepare for hours ahead, then we'd go and then we'd all recover from it for a couple of hours after we got home. Adding more of this to our weeks sounded horrible, it wasn't as if I wasn't able to still nurse them, it was just that I'd need to supplement. So, that is what we have done and I am so happy we did.

Right now the boys are eating seven to eight times per day. I generally nurse them every feeding expect for the most 'middle of the night' feeding. For that they get 2 oz. of formula and a quick diaper and we all go back to sleep as quickly as we possibly can! If I'm out and about when the boys need to eat they each take a couple ounces of formula and then I'll pump when I get home.

I have very happy boys who have taken pacifiers, fed from bottles and breast from the very beginning and we've never had a problem. I hope that twin mamas are wise enough and brave enough to do what works best for them and their babies regardless of all of the well-meaning advice.

In the very beginning I pumped A LOT (after almost every 'feeding') in order to get my milk to come in and then to get my supply up. I cannot urge you enough-- get an extra set of pump parts!! Washing parts is not at the top of your list of to-do's when you have babies who are just days old. Having a couple of sets will allow you to always have one clean set. Also- buy nipple cream. You'll need it. I like the Medela brand best.

I know there is plenty more to say on this topic, but I have a couple of babies who are starting to wake up. If you have questions about what we've done feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I know I was CONSTANTLY looking for twin mama blogs to find out what I should be expecting!


Jules said...

Oh dear. The extra-large chested thing didn't even occur to me until now. That could definitely be a problem! If I've learned anything from this post (and all the other comments twin moms left on my post the other day) is to have no expectations (and to sweet talk the nurses for tons of free formula before leaving the hospital!!!)

PhatFree said...

You are amazing!! Never regret your choice and never apologize for your choices!
I have PCOS and didn't realize that could affect milk supply. That along with having a breast reduction years ago is probably why I could never get more than 1 ounce at a time!
Your post is great!
You are doing an awesome job!!!

Megan said...

I just want to give you a huge hug! You are doing such a wonderful thing for your boys and it sounds like you're doing a great job. I've seen first hand how difficult it is to breastfeed twins with my SIL and I give you major props. Big applause, mama!

browning2222 said...

I think it is great that you are still producing milk with pcos. I did not make it very long and it was not worth the trouble of pumping for only 1 oz. If you have any suggestions of great blogs you have found about multiples I would like to look at them. Thanks

Sarra said...

I don't have twins, but I am also a PCOS mom who finally just decided to supplement with formula. I have not regretted it one bit. We do the best we can, and I agree that sometimes we just have to throw out the advice and do what's best for our little families!

And I have a hard time getting out of the house with my one little baby, so I can totally understand it being very hard with two!!! Several appointments a week would be impossible for me, lol. Glad to hear you are finding a good balance for your family and that everyone is healthy and happy. Would love to see pics of the babies!

Amber said...

I'm a new twin mama and this post makes me feel great about our situation! It's not an easy task to breast feed twins...I'm pumping/feeding/supplementing. It works for us. Great advice and post!!

Anonymous said...

You are doing awesome- I supplemented with formula and pumped, and its not easy! Seriously, I admire any mother that makes the effort to pump and breastfeed twins..... you are doing great!

Shan said...

The best words I ever heard on adding formula into my second child's life came from my lactation consultant: A fed baby is a happy baby. It seems like you've got that part figured out already.

Ashley said...

I am a twin mom too, mine our 14 months old and i am still breastfeeding. My experience has been similar to yours in that the tandem thing was SO not for us for a LONG time. and besides, i loved that one on one time. Around a year I now tandem feed them but now we are down to only breastfeeding in the am and bedtime. The rest of the day they each food like champs and drink some cow's milk. It is so hard in the beginning. It's like people expect you to not be able to do it. But like you said, if you come up with your own plan that works for you then you can succeed. It only gets easier, i promise you! (on and good for you for only gaining 40 lbs, i gained 65!)