Foodie Friday: Breastfeeding newborn twins

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When pregnant twin moms come to our twin club’s monthly support meetings, breastfeeding is often a topic of conversation. How do you breastfeed twins? Can you? Do you produce enough milk? Does it take up all your time? What about tandem feeding? Lots of twin moms want to try to breastfeed, but there aren’t a ton of resources out there that talk about how to logistically manage two babies. And, honestly, there is some crappy advice out there. I had family members tell me that it would be way too much for me to do, and that I’d stop after a few weeks. I had a lactation consultant in the hospital tell me that all moms of twins find breastfeeding two babies too much, and what I needed to do was feed one baby from the breast and formula feed the other. When I protested that this was not what I wanted to do (shocker, really, that I wanted to have a choice in this) she told me that this was just what twin moms had to do. What did I know, really?

So, how do you tell the crappy advice from the good advice? How do you know who to listen to and whom to ignore (hi, unsupportive family members and bad lactation consultant!).  I think that moms of twins who have breastfed their babies are the most informed people to talk to. They’ve BEEN there! They know the challenges—two screaming babies, preemies, sleepy eaters, bad latchers— and they know how good it can be when it works well. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek out the advice of lactation consultants, who can be a fabulous resource. Even I found a much better one than the original hospital lactation consultant—one who actually believed I could breastfeed if I wanted to. I did. And I could.

So, all of you moms of twins out there, what kind of advice would you give a new mom of twins about breastfeeding? What do you wish someone had said to you? What do you wish you had known? Share with all of us—and those expectant moms of twins out there who are gathering information. AND, just by commenting, you will be entered in a drawing to receive a free copy of Twinspiration! There are two chapters in the book about the experience of breastfeeding twins, but also lots of other stuff about the joys and challengings of having two babies at once. Happy reading….

I’m going to start the comments here by throwing in my 2 cents, plus a few links for places to get more information or hear more about moms’ experiences breastfeeding. If I look back on what I wished I’d known those first few weeks, the first is that it gets both easier and better. I hated breastfeeding at first—I was recovering from a nasty C section, I hurt, I was exhausted, and BFing hurt too. People had described it as a wonderful, special experience…huh. But, it was later on, at 2 and 3 and 4 months, when it got easy and sweet and this special time I could share with the kids. In those first few weeks, I felt like I never moved from my spot on the sofa, which I think still holds a butt-sized imprint from my weeks there. I felt guilty about hating it, and thought maybe that meant that BFing was not for me. I couldn’t imagine months and months of this. It was my mom who got me through those first few weeks, telling me that it got easier and faster and that it didn’t have to be all BFing, all the time, if at some point I decided I didn’t want to.

The other thing that I wish is that someone had told me to keep it simple…I came home from the hospital with a hospital grade breastpump and a whole pumping/feeding plan, but what ended up being so much easier for me was just to put them to breast when they fussed for food. At first, pumping seemed to be easier–no uncertainty about how much they are getting and it didn’t hurt any more than latching did at that point. And, it was over in a predictable amount of time. But once the kids got good at nursing,  I realized that feeding at the breast doesn’t have to hurt, can be quick like pumping and is much more portable (can you imagine me pulling out the hospital grade pump in Starbucks? Hehehe.) Obviously the pump is important and a great resource if you have to be away from the babies or want a break at night. But for me, things worked better when it was an occasional help, not something I had to incorporate into my feeding routine.  Although I needed help getting the babies to latch at first, by the time I got to 6 weeks, and my help disappeared (ok, went back to work), I felt like a really had the hang of it. Of course, that was the day I got mastitis the first time, but that’s a whole different story…..

If you want to read about Goddess in Progresses thoughts about BFing, as she looks back months later, click here. LauraC and I also wrote about this experience on HDYDI here and here. Here is our readers’ advice to one mom of twins who was struggling with BFing. If you’re looking for more information about tandem feeding, click here. At least one HDYDI mom found La Leche helpful, and they have some information on their site about BFing multiples.

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32 thoughts on “Foodie Friday: Breastfeeding newborn twins”

  1. What I wish I had understood at the time, more than anything else, is that I really should have just sat my behind on the couch and nursed babies all day long. And that I wouldn’t have to do so forever. But that the initial single-minded, 24/7 focus on that task would have paid off within a matter of weeks. All those family visitors? Let them bring me food and gallons of water and hold the baby who isn’t currently nursing, or change diapers, or take out the trash. But if I wanted to make BFing work, I should have just sat there and nursed. WAY easier said than done, of course. There are always complicating factors and competing voices telling you to do something else.

    And it’s not that people (um, and by people, I mean the very author of this post) didn’t tell me that. It’s that the newborn days are the ultimate in not being able to see the forest for the trees. Ah, hindsight. So clear, and so cruel.

  2. I know not everyone has the help to do this, but what worked for me was to make my one and only job breastfeeding. I fed the babies. My husband, mom, friends, in-laws, and anyone else who was around fed me, changed diapers, did laundry and everything else that needed doing. I seriously changed about 2 diapers the first 3 weeks.

    The other thing that really helped was accepting that I could never know for sure that one of my babies wasn’t hungry. This doesn’t mean I was constantly worried that they were starving, but it does mean that if they looked and acted hungry, I fed them, even if they just ate for an hour and a half five minutes ago. Scheduling didn’t work for us in the beginning, but once breastfeeding was going well, we sort of fell into a pattern.

    I also wish I had known that the pain would stop eventually. In the beginning, my nipples were so sore it hurt for my shirt to touch them. Now, they are what our pediatrician calls “bionic nipples.” I guess that goes for everything about breastfeeding. It’s really hard in the beginning, but it gets better.

  3. I, too, wish I had known to just let the babies go-go-go. At the hospital, it was almost impossible for the first 2.5 weeks (while they were in the NICU), and I think that really impacted my milk supply. I also wish I had known to use the hospital grade pump at that point rather than the one I received at my shower…pretty sure that impacted the milk supply as well.

    Funny how the SAME hospital didn’t even consider bringing a pump to my room when I had the singleton after the twins…I’m sure that was partly due to the fact that he was full-term and not in the NICU, but it was the first thing they did with the twins.

    And I had to laugh at Sally’s “bionic nipple” – perfect description :)

  4. I also had a bad lactation consultant in the hospital. My babies were born at 35w6d weighing 5lbs2oz and 4lbs 10oz. They didn’t spend anytime in the NICU. They lost weight during the first couple days in the hospital (Which is completely normal for babies to do) The nurses weren’t worried about it, the pediatrician wasn’t worried about it but the lactation consultant freaked out. She told me to only allow them to nurse for 20 minutes at each feeding then to supplement with formula after that. Also she told me to pump after every feeding to get my milk to come in. I had BF my older son for 15 months. I wasn’t new to BF but I was new to BF twins. I believed what she said because she was the expert. ::eye roll:: I should have trusted my insticts and just exclusively BF them. It would have saved me so much stress.

    My twins are 4 1/2 months old now. Will wants to nurse every two hours. Ellie will go longer between feedings. I nurse on demand. Also if they are hungry at the same time I tandem nurse. In public I only nurse one at a time but at home I nurse them together. I have the EZ plus Nursing Pillow which makes feeding both babies at the same time so much easier. At night time, if one wakes up I always wake the other one up. Then I’m not up all night.

    I also got support from LaLeche League and some other lactation consultants.I tried very hard (and still do) to ignore anyone who says “With twins you are going to HAVE to supplement.” but I also don’t beat myself up if they get a formula bottle every now and then. I also created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of when they ate, how much, which side they nursed on, how many diapers they had, etc. It made it easier for me because being sleep deprived I couldn’t remember which baby did what when I had to go to the doctor for weight checks. I’m more than willing to share my spreadsheet with anyone who wants it.

    Getting through those first few weeks is really hard. But once you get the hang of it, its so much easier.

  5. Oh the obsession…I have never worked so hard at anything in my life! I can say we had some success in that our girls were solely breastfed for about at least a few months. I wholeheartedly agree that the BEST thing you can do is nurse them ALL the time whenever they want regardless of the “schedule”. I do however have to give props to the lactation consultant. Mine was really the only reason I kept going through a falsely good start in the hospital which turned into blistered nipples (masked by c-section meds) later on and utterly (or should I say udderly?) sore nipples. She was my cheerleader and gave me great advice. I think every twin mom should meet with a LC who has worked with twin moms who have succeeded in BF. I think that if I had started with mine earlier we might not have had the weight issues that ultimately did BF in for us (although I still partially BF). All in all I have met twin moms who did it and that is the most important thing to remember: it can be done! That, and it does get better. Oh, and undoubtedly get a netflix subscription, a good twin nursing pillow and embrace the couchtime. I got through all seven seasons of the Gilmore Girls…no joke! And one more thing- any success IS success even if you end up with formula you have still done so much for them by BF at all!

  6. At my first twin meeting, there was only one mom who had successfully breastfed twins. She was there mentoring another women whose babies were only weeks old. I asked her for her tips and she said in her mind it was very simple. There was only one “type” of MoM who would be successful breastfeeding — not the ones who “planned to breastfeed” nor the ones who would “try to breastfeed.” In the 15 years since she had her twins, the only successful MoMs were the ones who said they “WOULD breastfeed their twins” and broached no other considerations. That really stuck with me and I decided that I would be one of those women.

    Her words motivated me to _really_ educate myself on breastfeeding — classes, lots of reading, LLL meetings while pregnant, I found and spoke with many different LC’s during my pregnancy, so that I would know who I wanted to call “just in case.” I also actively looked for my own bf mentors. I was lucky to have friends and cousins who had done a lot of tandem nursing of their singletons, I found a local LLL leader who was also a twin mom (still nursing her 3 y/o twins!). I also let my extended family know ahead of time that I would be breastfeeding, that I expected it to be challenging, and that I would really like their support and help. I rationalized that I was educating myself for labor and birth, and that would be a relatively short-term event. Breastfeeding would go on for a year or more!

    Nursing did not turn out to be easy for us. My boys were born suddenly at 32 weeks and spent 3 weeks in the NICU. It was 11 weeks before they were strong enough to be exclusively at-the-breastfed, so for that time we triplefed (breast/top-off bottle of bm/pump) around the clock. It was exhausting, I had PPD, etc., etc, etc.

    But now it is 15 months later and we are still going strong. I’m so proud of myself and my boys for accomplishing a good nursing relationship. My advice for new MoMs is to surround themselves with people who are educated about nursing and supportive — Prepare for the hardest thing they will ever do. Plan to spend 6+ months doing NOTHING but Nursing (and maybe catching up with favorite movies!) It will be SSSOOO Hard, but SSSSSOOOOO worth it!

    Our nursing story is at: http://ziggyk.livejournal.com/34064.html#cutid1

    Some photos from the early days and one of my own proudest nursing moments are at: http://goddardtwins.blogspot.com/2007/10/speakers-fee-2-boobs.html

    Also, I was lucky to have a very supportive LC in the hospital and NICU with me, but not all the advice was the best. When my boys were a few months old, I got the opportunity to speak at a LLL conference session aimed at L&D & NICU Nurses and LC’s. It was incredibly empowering to share our experience with an educated audience!

  7. I LOVED breastfeeding my now 18 month old Twins for the first year. I had lots of formula samples (when I drank or travelled,etc), and NEVER actually bought a can. My nurses in the hospital and Dr all acted like I could do it and my body was made to do this (even for two), so I never questioned it. My nurse in the hospital MADE me tandem feed the second day. I was afraid to tandem feed. My kiddos latched on immediateley even the first day, and were just never a problem. A GREAT PERK was that I lost any weight in like SIX weeks, then I just lost MORE. For one year I was VERY skinny with REALLY NICE breasts. I felt very pretty (even if sex was VERY UN-interesting to me!!!). For one year I ate HUGE amounts.

    Anyway, I also did NOT sweat the small stuff. We did supplement for the first two weeks… then the pedictrician assured us they were growing perfectly and I had plenty of milk. I didn’t time feedings or record when they ate, I just went with the fact that the pediatrician said all was perfect. My kiddos went between breast and bottle from the get go with NO problem. Really, they made it easy for ME.

    Also found the best breast feeding pillow for me was just a body pillow from W-M wrapped around me.

    Also could NOT have done it (I work full time) without my Medela Pump and Style Advance Back Pack model with various power sources.

    Anyway, I guess I just went into it with a carefree attidute like it would work just fine, and it did. I thought many of my friends had breast fed for a year, and I would too, and discovered later many did not choose this option, which is fine. My Dr advised it so I thought… Okay, this is what you do… and I did.

    It was a great first year and I would do it the same way in a second. I also know I am lucky to have easy breezy twins, and I am also an easy breezy mommy. I BELIEVE in schedules and routines, but also am flexible.

    Take Care all, Andrea with twins in MN

  8. I want to say, I know I am lucky and my easy time is rare. I know mommies of any kiddos have to do what is right for them and their family. My babies were over 5 and 6 pounds and born at 37 1/2 weeks, and not in the NICU. (I had a c section, but no problems). I did feed them on demand, but also was aware of the time. If one wanted to eat, I fed both.

    Good luck to any new moms or expecting moms. Please know there are a few cases out there that are hastle free….

  9. I honestly don’t know how I made it through 11 months of BFeeding my twin boys. It’s truly a blur. All I did was nurse. Rarely pumped because it was easier to put babe to breast than get out all that “equipment”.
    I had an awesome lactation consultant who was in awe of me and she always made me feel like a “Wonder Woman” who could do anything, including nursing twins.
    I had the support of my husband, Mom and family. No one ever questioned my choice, because it was my choice.
    I did use formula here and there. Just in emergency situations. I am proud to say I nursed my twins one month longer than my first son. But, at the 11-month mark, I was very ready to stop.
    It can be done and through all the “hard times”, you look back and realize that your sacrifice as a mom was 100% worth the work.

  10. I just wanted to chime in and say that my advice is to keep reminding yourself that they won’t nurse forever. I made a “one year” commitment to myself and told my husband that no matter what I said, he had to remind me that it was only a year. There were days where all I managed to accomplish was feeding babies and keeping their butts clean. But that was enough. My house was a disaster, we ate crappy takeout, they were premies and poor latchers and we supplemented when necessary, but i made it to one year. you can too.

  11. I breastfed my twin boys until they were 21 months old. The best advice I could give was to get a twin nursing pillow. It saved my life and so much time. I bought the e-z-2 nurse pillow (I even got it second hand) and it was worth every dime. At first I think my babies lived on that pillow, but I know it saved so much time to nurse them at the same time, then I didn’t have one screaming to be fed and it took about 45minutes total for the two of them. With time the nursings got quicker and I learned to enjoy and looked forward to our quiet time. A friend who had twins gave some great advice when she said, nursing is a blessing for many reasons, but it also makes you stop, and take a bit of a break from everything else, and that was so true for us.

    I also agree with what Kathy said. You have to have an attitude that you WILL breastfeed. While I was pregnant, I had countless people tell me it would be really hard, or time consuming or not worth it. It never changed my attitude that I was going to breastfeed them and that I was not going to give up when it seemed too hard.

    As for producing enough milk. I think every woman’s body is different, but I know I had enough to feed quadruplets if I had wanted to. Drink lots, don’t forget to eat lots and sleep when those babies do. I almost lost my milk to sickness twice and stressing out about it only made it worse. My babies lost some weight when my milk almost dried up but I was not ready to give up breastfeeding. I just nursed them around the clock then until it came back. I know that if I had supplemented them with formula at that point that my milk may have never returned. It is all about supply and demand from those babies.

    I am so grateful I breastfed both my boys, besides all of the health benefits, I don’t know how I would have found the energy or time to make so much formula and sterilize all of those bottles! Besides that, just the cost alone of formula for twins would be crazy!

  12. What great advice and thoughts from moms that have BTDT! :)

    You CAN do it!

    – it will be hard in the beginning, but stick w/ it
    – make sure you talk to a lactation consultant in the hospital before you leave and feel comfortable w/ nursing
    – ask your ped if they have a lactation consultant and if they do take advantage (our ped lc helped me use a nursing pillow to tandem nurse and it saved my life)
    – make sure everyone that comes to your house knows you will be nursing babies a lot and their job is to either clean or bring you food/water – or just sit and talk to you bc you are trapped on your couch
    – let yourself be trapped on the couch. It seems like it will be forever, but it won’t
    – be as relaxed as possible – sometime supplementation (whether formula or breastmilk) happens and it won’t totally kill your supply or ruin the babies for breast feeding. Sometimes you sleeping while babies have a bottle is the best thing for that moment.
    – look for a LLL group specifically for multiples.

    NUMBER 1 – be gentle and patient w/ yourself!!!!!

    Like someone else said… it’s not forever.. when it’s hard remind yourself of this! I was blessed to be able to nurse my babies until they were done at 20 months.

  13. My pediatrician said something great early on — for most women, if you work really hard at it, you’ll get it established, even if there are different paths there. I spent so much time WORRYING about undersupply, oversupply, nipple confusion, etc., rather than just doing it. Counting pumped ML’s, weighing babies before/aftering nursing, etc. My babes were low birth weight and it took a while to establish it, and now, on their 2 year birthday, I’m trying to figure out how I’m ever going to get them to stop! I’ve written more about it on my own blog:

    http://sarahandjordanll.blogspot.com/2007/09/year-of-breastfeeding-twins.html

  14. 1) I wish I had known, it is OK to BF and choose NOT to pump.
    I hated the pump but used it with my first son, thinking I had to express milk so he could learn to use a bottle. But Pumping exhausted me and all the equipment was such a nuisance.
    2) I wish I had known how much a feeding schedule could save my sanity.
    With an older son to take care of, I could not have a baby latched on all the time nursing. I loosely followed the feeding schedule outlined in Babywise, with my twins, and it enabled me to still do things with older son, and plan for the twins needs as well. Without a guide I would have been stressed all the time, not knowing when to feed them, or when they would nap. I know Babywise is controversial but with the twins, a job, and another son to handle, it really saved my life.

  15. the docs wouldnt let me leave the hosp until i had fed both boys. oran fed like a dream but brook was difficult from the start. they were going to give him a bottle which i really didnt want so was very glad when he fed. he had latching on difficulties for about 3 weeks. sometimes up to an hour just trying to latch on then falling asleep as soon as he had.i had to learn to totally relax and think happy milk flowing thoughts as soon as he latched on because if my milk wouldnt come straight away he would let go. we shared many tears together and i think if he was my only baby i would have thought i couldnt do it, but oran was on the other side and could have latched on upside down!!!! we got there in the end (in time for me to get mastitis – ouch!) now at 3 months we have stoppped tandem feeding because he pushes against the back of the sofa and nipple in danger of dropping off! but they are quicker and patient so feeding individually seems to work. i try routines but they are happy to just feed. i have given all my tough experiences because the reality is every b/f exp is totally different, even for each baby. i wouldnt have it any other way. feeding oran has been a breeze; feeding brook has been really hard work but i have completely bonded with him through it and am so glad i havent given up.
    2 things that others have said that sticks – support of others is essential and be absolutely convinced that you can and will do it.

  16. I agree in that I wish someone had told me to just park my butt on the sofa and deal with it those first few weeks. Use all of the offered help people were giving. DON’T try to be super Mom at your house when you get home. That being said I sometimes wonder if having so many people around was almost a downfall. It seemed I was too worried about them than letting myself have the time away to nurse the babies. I have no excuse except for psyching myself out and ultimately believing anything else was more important. I had a good pregnancy, no NICU time, and an easy c-section.

    I think if I had successfully nursed a singleton I would have been more prepared, but I had no idea what to expect. I wanted a feeding schedule from the beginning, and you can’t expect that with nursing either. As you can tell, I have SERIOUS regrets from not “getting it” and not calling in any kind of help from anyone (consultants, experienced Moms) afterward.

  17. Just wanted to say “Thank you!” from a mom who has successfully breast fed a singleton, and am nervous about nursing my twins when they arrive in a few weeks. You’ve given me the inspiration to know I CAN do it!

  18. I have been reading this blog for some time. It is incredibly helpful to me although I have yet to post. I have twin girls who are 3mos old. This post comes at a time that I feel I have FINALLY gotten the hang of this BF thing, and it is more of a pleasure to feed them.

    I would say that the incremental goal setting has a lot to do with it. When I made it to two weeks, after many painful nursing sessions, supplemental nursing systems with a catheter attached to the breast, I was proud. Then I thought, “okay…if I can make it another two weeks…,” and that is how it continued. I now find myself at 3mos/1 week, and going strong. There were so many times I thought I might quit. I had multiple nipple blisters that were frankly more painful than my C-section recovery.

    All that being said, I also believe that each woman has her own path, her own threshold, and we all do the absolute best we can for our babes. I think it is helpful to have people who support your decisions no matter what they are, surrounding you.

  19. I just want to thank everyone for sharing their experiences. I’m almost 37 weeks pregnant with my twin girls, who will also be my first children. Breastfeeding is something I’m totally committed to and I’m eager to get it started. Hearing more stories about how it has worked for others is great as are the warnings about bad advice that you may even get from an LC. Great job, MoMs!

  20. I am pregnant with twins and intend to breastfeed. I love the comments about ‘intending’ to breastfeed rather than ‘trying’ to. Intentions are so powerful.

    For a complimentary report of the special report ‘Breastfeeding Success with the Law of Attraction’ visit my blog http://www.MagicalBeginningsForBaby.com/breastfeeding

    Also, another way to prepare and support ourselves in breastfeeding is by tuning into the blogtalk radio show from the Breastfeeding Salon. I am a co-host and several of the shows have addressed the topic of twin feeding. Here is one link:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/TheBreastfeedingSalon/2008/05/20/The-Breastfeeding-Salon

    We would love to hear from you on the show.

    In joy,

    Deirdre Morris
    Inspiring Magical Beginnings

  21. Rebecca, this post was a great idea! Obviously, breastfeeding is a hot topic among MoM’s!

    I breastfed Faith for a full 12 months, and I nursed Jonathan for 4 months before he stopped. I then pumped exclusively for him for 8 months. (Can you say Moo?!) Both kids got a LOT of pumped milk. At times I hated the pump, but other times it was a tool that I used to make life smoother for myself. I found bottle feeding 2 in public totally non-intimidating. Can’t say that for breastfeeding!

    I actually took a different approach to nursing than some of the other posters. I left my BF class in tears, totally overwhelmed and unsure. I really wanted to kids to get the benefits of breastmilk, but I was so unsure if it would “work.” I told myself that we would re-evaluate our situation at 3 months, 6, 9 and 12. In this way, my stubborness to meet my goal kept me going, because quite frankly, I think I would have given up the first month! I kept telling myself and my family that I would do my best, but that there were a lot of variables I was concerned about ( like inverted nipples).

    I had to make peace with the fact that I was completely uncomfortable nursing and public, and that the amount of bottles I gave them made them prefer bottles. Yet I am very proud of my body for making enough milk for my kids.

    Someday I would love to have the experience of nursing just one baby. I think I would be more relaxed and enjoy it more. Honestly, I can hardly remember what it was like to BF, and my kids are only 16 months old!

  22. My husband and I were sure I would breastfeed our identical twin boys- it was the best thing for our babies. Alas, our babies were born 5 weeks early and spent 30 days in the NICU- and it was an eventful 30 days. Son B had NEC and was off food for 7 days straight, and then son A had a NEC scare and was off for 5 days. They volleyed back and forth between IV fluids, breastmilk, pedialyte and no food. I pumped the entire time- through blisters, bleeding and tears. Finally I was allowed to attempt breastfeeding 1x per day and then 2x per day but only one baby- this went back and forth through the first 1.5 months during which time both were found to be allergic to dairy so I cut it from my diet. Then baby A had to go on elemental formula and finally after 4 tries we found one that worked for him ($200 per 6 days)….anyway it was a nightmare, but I persisted.

    Today they are 6months old and I am still pumping. Finally insurance is paying for Baby A’s formula. Baby B has been on straight breastmilk (plus thickener) for at least 4 months now and it is soooo rewarding! I have donated milk to a milk bank 2x now (nearly 1,000 ounces in all) and we have a full deep freezer (it’s bigger than our fridge)! My goal is to have Baby B go until 12 months on breastmilk so I should be able to stop around 8mths and have the freezer carry him through.

    Why did I keep pumping? Because Baby A’s specialist told us that I could reintroduce breastmilk at 9months- I laughed at first thinking “Are you kidding? Pump for 9mths!?!?” and then I told myself that I could do it because he deserved the best I could give him. Now I realize that it’s ok if Baby A never gets breastmilk again, he’s healthy and thriving…I’m just so glad to be able to provide for one of them.

    I wear softshells every day. I still bleed and get blisters. I can’t lie on my stomach because my nipples hurt. Should you go through this same hell? NO. YES. Maybe…do what’s right for you and be ok with that. Whatever you decide is the perfect decision!

  23. Lots of similar advice…find a comfy chair and make it your home for the first few months! Co-sleep, prop yourself up with pillows and strap on the nursing pillow-stuff in a few more pillows, stick the kids on and get some shut eye. That is how I survived the first 6 months (they got to big to co-sleep). Oh and people say nursing shouldn’t hurt…but when you’re just getting started is does-ALWAYS. Your body has to get used it. I mean really your poor nipples go from occasionally being uses(hahaha) to being used every couple of hours all day and night-that’s going to hurt some what. Always trust your instincts…they will tell you when something is not right or when something is. I’m two weeks away from successfully nursing my girls for a year :) (I also have a 5 year old and 3 year old). So it can be done!

  24. I would be interested in specifically hearing about moms whose twins weren’t their first babies. Maybe a lot of you have previous children, but I can’t tell from some of your comments. I had a just barely three year old daughter when my twin girls were born. It was a struggle to balance time with her and the babies, and I felt very guilty both ways. I breastfed my girls for 13 months, but we did supplement some with both formula and pumped breastmilk. I would say, especially for those of you out there who already have a child…do NOT beat yourself up if you end up supplementing some (but don’t PLAN on it) :). I cried for a whole week and then some when we realized the girls were not gaining properly (at 7 weeks) even though they were nursed on demand. I didn’t want to admit that their diapers weren’t as wet as they should have been. I was nursing them every hour for almost a whole hour for way too many days…they were trying to go through a growth spurt but I couldn’t meet their demands. Everyone’s body is different…during the two years prior to the birth of our twins, I went through two miscarriages and the loss of twin girls to TTTS at 23 weeks. Four months after that loss I was pregnant with the precious twins we have now. I was on bedrest for most of my pregnancy and my body was just plain worn out. I had a tear/episiotomy that was not healing properly and I had to have surgery when the girls were 11 weeks old. Anyway, there can be so many contributing factors and things don’t usually go as perfectly as we’d like. Remember, if Mommy is exhausted, and totally stressed, then nobody is happy…and the stress CAN affect your supply.

    I loved my EZ 2 nurse pillow and highly recommend tandem nursing! I would not have survived without visting the Twinstuff website and getting advice and encouragement from the Breastfeeding Forum ladies there. Though I received some assistance in the beginning from some friends, it didn’t last very long and I had no family nearby… If someone offers to help, even if it feels very humbling, accept it.

    Oh, I also wanted to say…even though we supplemented at some times, as the girls became more efficient nursers and later started solids, I was able to wean them off some of the supplementing. From 7 months on, they only got about 6-8 oz. of formula or pumped milk per day (even less in the last couple of months)! So if you start supplementing, don’t just throw in the towel on nursing. You CAN do both, especially if you try to always/almost always nurse first.

    Also, remember that what works for some families may not work for others. So just by trial and error figure out how YOU can best breast feed your babies. One more thing, if you feel like you have a low supply…eat lots of regular oatmeal and maybe try some fenugreek herb. I think it helped me…and oatmeal is good for you anyway! :)

    Sorry this is so long…I hope it helps our encourages someone out there!

  25. Just wanted to add another comment…

    My boys were born very healthy, a few days shy of their 40 week due date, at great weights, via vaginal delivery and even though we had the ideal situation AND I had previously successfully breastfed my oldest for 14 months breastfeeding twins was still a struggle!

    We are now at 7 months and going strong but it took lots of trial and error attempts to figure out what worked best for us. I initially tandem fed them and went through several elaborate schedules incorporating pumping, or formula and alternating babies and sides I could go on and on. Like several pp’s the best advice I have is to take the babies lead and try to keep it simple as possible. And get as much help with older children and household responsibilities as possible. The first three months are tough even in the most ideal situation but trust me, there is light at the end of the tunnel! I had many moments where I ALMOST gave up. Both boys always seemed to be starving and I constantly worried that they weren’t getting enough. At around 9 weeks I visited with a lactation consultant who verified (by weighing them after a nursing session) that I was producing enough. After that I felt confident enough to keep going taking each day at a time!

    I no longer tandem feed them (which is much more enjoyable for me and them) and we are exclusively bfing (except for a rare occasions when they both wake up in the middle of the night starving.. then DH formula feeds one) with the objective of trying weaning between 12 and 18 mths. On another note bfing has been awesome for weight loss! I am way below my starting weight with little to no extra exercise (although caring for three under three counts right) and like pp mentioned I am able to eat like a teenage boy. Just another incentive to keeping going!

    Best of luck to all!

  26. Rebecca knows this subject is near and dear to my heart as I have been blogging incessantly on the subject (http://www.mommyesq.com/search/label/breastfeeding). I know that everyone recommends just sacking out on the couch with the kids and I am happy to do so – but my kids (only 11 days old) seem to want to sleep more than eat. For now we are doing 1 on the breast at each feeding with the other getting breastmilk in a bottle and 1 feeding per day (middle of the night) with formula. I pump in the middle of the night and I pump after each feeding. Yeah, I hate the pump but while we are working on latching issues and sleepy babies I’m happy they are getting breastmilk even if it is from a bottle (I pray it doesn’t result in lazy babies who reject my breasts). I hope in a week or two to be able to fully tandem nurse – and I’m going to go to a support group next week for tips. Interestingly my kids don’t want to eat more than every 4 hours – I know I should be lucky to have so much time but I was mentally prepared for “all the time” feedings so it has actually be hard to have that much time. In case you are wondering, I can do the bottle feed for now because we have someone helping us for 6 weeks. Like other moms I don’t actually know how to change a diaper or swaddle very well. Like the other moms I am “determined” to make it work and I am doing my best not to let the baby nurse or Husband undermine that determination. Even when my entire day’s mood depends on whether I can get a “good” breastfeed with my kids.

  27. I wish I had realized with my first baby (singleton) that BFing is hard to learn and not the easy task that you should just magically know how to do…there is a learning curve and for me, it took some work and some tears and most of all – time! Knowing this with my twins made it easier and realizing that the pain subsides and the joy increases as they get bigger and as you get the hang of it. And hang in there past week 3 at that first growth spurt. Just allow yourself 3-4 days of doing nothing but feeding.

    I hated BFing ODS in front of anyone and especially in public. With these two, I don’t care. People can (and will) look away if they’re uncomfortable.

    Drink lots of water. Obscene amounts of water. Drink until your pee is completely clear. And then have another glass. It will really make a supply difference.

    Most important for me was to realize there is no one handing out prizes for exclusive BFing, so in the begining, when I was tired and had help (and the opportunity to sleep) or when my nipples hurt like he!!, I took that break to suppliment with formula or pumped milk. My twins are now 10 weeks old, and we’ve only used half a can of formula. It’s saved my sanity and they are no worse for the wear.

    The number one tip that helped me most was to pump to increase my supply. #1 – pump right after the feeding. That is hard to do and I needed someone’s help to take the babies after I was done so I could go right in and pump. You need to do this to tell your body to produce more at that time of day. #2 – pump after the same feeding. For me, there was no “morning”; the days didin’t start at any particular time, so I did it at the same time by the clock. You will need to pump 2-4 days in a row to see the increase. #3 – pump even when you have NO MILK coming out. I would feed both babies, then go right in to pump. I would only get maybe 1 oz each side if I was lucky, but continued to pump “dry” for another 10 min. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but you have to not get stressed that nothing is coming and realize that it will pay off. What that does is train your body to realize that you need more milk that it was producing. After a few days of doing this, my supply increased and I found I had enough to keep up with the demand.

    Lastly, I didn’t worry about tandem feeding for at least a month. I know it’s a timesaver, but I still don’t love it and do it for convenience. It was much easier for me to (re)learn how to breastfeed first and then figure out doing it at the same time.

    And remember, a baby can cry for a few minutes and be okay! And an older child can learn to wait his/her turn. I have come to grips that someone will always be waiting, and someone may be crying, and that’s okay. When people ask “How do you do it?” I just say, “Everyone takes turns. Everyone has to wait sometimes. Everyone gets to cry every now and again, including me. But we just do it.”

  28. I have read many of the comments but not all… I still wanted to give my two cents even if I give repeat advice.

    One thing I would tell a newbie is that even if it seems like it’s a lot of work to nurse twins, the fact is that it’s a lot of work to feed twins no matter which route you go. As much of a hassle that nursing may have seemed to me, it would be just as much of a hassle to fix bottles, wash bottles, buy formula, etc. Even now at 14 months old, keeping my twins fed is seriously a full time job. Between meals and snacks and sippy cups, I feel like I’m constantly shoving some kind of sustenance down someone’s throat 24/7.

    Another key tip is to get your husband on board with the decision to breastfeed. He will likely be your primary support person. He and any other help who stops over after your twins are born will need to feed YOU, hydrate YOU, do YOUR laundry, let YOU have the remote control and the phone, etc. And if your husband has a bad attitude while he’s “helping” in these ways, it’s not much of a help. Remind him how much formula costs times two babies and maybe he’ll see the light. 😉

    And lastly, this won’t last forever. This won’t last forever. This won’t last forever. This won’t last forever. This won’t last forever. Whether you love it or hate it, it won’t last forever. Enjoy it or just survive it. And then help mentor others using your new experience. :)

  29. Breastfeeding twins – I always laughed when people looked surprised that I planned to breastfeed two – we have 2 breasts – so of course I would !

    My twins are my 3rd and 4th children so I wasn’t a stranger to breastfeeding. My first child was a preemie in the NICU so I’d done the pumping/gavage tube feeding, 2nd child ate like a Hoover vaccuum around the clock – twins – well – once you got used to the dynamics of tandem nursing – it was pretty easy! I found the EZ to Nurse pillow too big and awkward. I just used a boppy pillow, sat in a comfy arm chair with the table beside me full of drinks, the phone, the remote control and anything else that’d I’d need in easy reach.

    Some of the more interesting things were the arm wrestling over the boobs, my daughter liked to rhythmically slap my son in the head while they were nursing, the little pinching fingers on the backs of my arms, the sleepy little ‘milk faces’ when they’d have their fill and let go of the breast with a contented sigh and milk dribbling out the corner of their mouth….

    Just try to relax, go with the flow, it is a learning process for each of you and the more relaxed you can be – the easier it is. Having support helps – but ultimately – it is your decision –

    I feel strongly on this topic and have devoted some pages on my site to it if anyone needs some help/advice:

    http://www.raising-twins.com/breastfeeding.html
    http://www.raising-twins.com/breastfeeding-twins.com
    http://www.raising-twins.com/breastfeeding-identical-twins.com

    Happy nursing!
    Kim

  30. I have been BFing my twins for over nine months now. Things have gone good, better than expected. With my first child, a singleton I BF and made a goal of a year. In a BFing class I took I remember them saying give it a good 6 weeks to get established, and I thought it would only take 2 for me. At three months I was thinking “only 9 monhts to go”. At 10 months, I was lamenting the prospect of weaning.

    My twins were much easier, I think because I had some experience. However, I thought the only way I’d get through it was tandem nursing…we’ve only done it twice. One of mine had reflux and was contantly needing to be burped throughout feedings, so tandem didn’t work. But we’ve been fine.

    My 2 cents: relax every baby is different, make friends with your lactation consultant, and give it time. Also stop obsessing about ounces, nipple confusion, and spit-up amounts…things work out. In my opinion, just because you don’t feel like you know what your doing doesn’t mean the babies don’t. It’s something you learn together, but the baby isn’t freaking out about every little thing- just you.

  31. Thank you all for the post and comments. My two boys are due in December and I am planning on trying to tandem feed them so all the stories are so helpful to me. The only concern I have so far is that DH wants me to pump so he can help with some of the feedings but I worry about nipple confusion and the time and effort pumping will take. I’m sure we will figure out what works for us when the time comes but it is nice to hear other MoMs experience.

  32. You can do it!

    I had my twins c-section at 39 weeks (6 lb 3 oz and 7 lb 7 oz), so we never had to do the NICU thing, but I do have a 2 year old running around, so if I can do it… you can too! My doctor and pediatrician both have twins in their family, so they were great support and gave me some great tips. I practiced tandem nursing in the hospital, but didn’t feel really good at it until I had lots of practice at home with the boppy. Both my twins latched great from the beginning, so that was also a blessing. I always feed them at the same time (or right after each other), so if one wanted to eat, the other was fed also. Eventually they got on the same schedule. At first, I would let them eat until they were full, which varied length of time, but was never more that 20 minutes. They only eat on one side, but I alternate breasts each feeding and keep track with a milkband (milkbands.com). I have a good double pump for when I need to be away from them and when I went back to work – necessity! I introduced the bottle at about 2 weeks of age and they go between the breast and the bottle great! They have also always had binkies. This breastfeeding experience has been TONS better than with my son. My twins are both healthy, growing, and happy… what more can I ask for?

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