Breastfeeding Twins: What I Wish I’d Known

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe’s Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today’s post is about nursing in special circumstances. Please read the other blogs in today’s carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!


This post is a guest post by a lovely lady named Angela. Angela is mom to two 22 month old twins and an 8 month old boy. You can read Mrs. LaLa’s blog at www.emptyuterus.wordpress.com. Thanks to Angela for letting me publish her story!

On September 23, 2009 I became a mother for the very first time. After over four years of infertility, I finally had my twin girls. They were ten weeks early and very sick so I knew how important it was to breastfeed them. The first thing I asked for when I got out of the recovery room after my c-section was a breast pump. The next two months while they recovered in the NICU were a haze of waking up at all hours to pump, living at the NICU and dreaming of the day when my daughters would be healthy enough to nurse from my breast. When I was pregnant with them I used to day-dream about sitting in a quiet room, rocking them softy and nursing them to sleep…it just seemed like such a “mom” thing to do. Something I had wanted for so long. Unfortunately, that dream was not realized until more than a year later when my son Nolan was born (full term and healthy as can be).

Evelynn and Lennon, because of their small size and numerous heath issues, never latched well. I was told repeatedly by doctors and nurses whenever I did put them to the breast that I needed to do it AFTER they had already been fed from a bottle and that it was “non-nutritive sucking”. I pumped milk for my daughters for four months and tried everything I could think of to get them to nurse but it never worked out and I was always too worried about them getting enough milk to ever relax and trust that my body could provide for them.

When the girls had been home for a month or two I began suffering from debilitating migraines and was told that in order to treat them I would have to give up pumping breast milk for my girls because the only medications available for treating the headaches would be passed through my breast milk and were harmful. I cried when I came home from the doctor’s appointment and told my husband that we were going to have to put the girls on formula. I felt so guilty because I was secretly relieved – pumping milk for 45 minutes at a time (to get enough for two babies) 8 times per day while also trying to care for two very sick little girls was really more than I could handle anyway.

At four months of age the twins went on formula full time. They struggled with constipation and began catching frequent colds (neither of which were an issue while on breast milk) but otherwise did well on it.

It was about this time that I found out that I was (VERY unexpectedly) pregnant with my son. When he was born 9 months later – healthy and full-term – I wanted to try breastfeeding again. My son was born in a different hospital then my girls were—a “Baby Friendly” hospital. What a difference! Although I am disappointed that they took my son from me immediately following my c-section and did not bring him to me to nurse for over four hours after his birth because they were “low on staff”—the rest of my experience with this hospital and with breastfeeding my son have been wonderful. This hospital made sure to facilitate breastfeeding in any way possible. They offered as much assistance as necessary (they even have a free breastfeeding clinic that my son and I can go to, anytime, for as long as I continue to nurse him).

Gone were the sore nipples I experienced with the girls. Gone are the insecurities. Gone is the sink full of crusty, stinky bottles that need to be washed and steamed on a daily basis!

The bottom line, what I wish I’d known: Breastfeeding is not supposed to hurt. If it hurts, your baby is not latched right. A bad latch is surprisingly easy to correct and most newborns do latch poorly because they are just so tiny. Whenever I would begin feeding Nolan as a newborn I would make sure that his lips were not tucked under his gums. IF they were, I would slide in a finger to “unhook” them. I would then gently pull down on his jaw to widen his latch. Voila! No more pain.

Secondly: I wish I’d known with the girls that non-nutritive sucking is BS. If a baby is sucking on a breast, they are getting milk (this may not ALWAYS be the case, but it is true more often than not) and a baby does NOT swallow if they are not getting milk. (It’s true, pay attention the next time you give your little one a pacifier, NO swallowing sounds.) If your baby is sucking and swallowing (at least every third suck they should be swallowing, if they are not you may have low supply) then they are breastfeeding successfully.

You can re-lactate. All you need is a breast-pump and Fenugreek. I wish I had known about Fenugreek earlier. I tried Reglan to bring up my supply with the girls and it gave me horrible panic attacks (which it does for many people). Fenugreek works just as well with no side effects.

A baby, full on breast milk, will usually still drink a bottle of formula. Babies like to suck. It’s what they do. It does NOT mean that your baby didn’t get enough milk from the breast or that they are still hungry. My younger twin used to breastfeed and then take a bottle and then she would throw up. We thought she had reflux. We were over-feeding her.

Nolan is 8 months old now and, because of a new position that I took on at work, I had to partially wean him to formula. Since I can no longer pump 2 or 3 times a day while at work to produce enough milk for him to have while I am not at home, my husband gives him formula during the day. When I get home from work, before I leave in the morning and all weekend long, he nurses. I do not have supply issues and this is working out just great for us.

 


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3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Twins: What I Wish I’d Known

  1. Pingback: My First Time « Empty Uterus Syndrome

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! I am so glad you have had such a positive experience nursing your son, though sorry for the challenges and bad advice you got with your twins. 4 months of breastmilk is a wonderful, wonderful start. I know SO MANY twin mamas who have pumped but have never been able to breastfeed, or who breastfed a bit but could not make it through those huge health and feeding challenges with twin preemie babies. The obstacles are just so huge. You are a rockstar for all that you have done and are doing for your sweet babies.

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