Two late to take it back: Breastfeeding

In this latest attempt to share wisdom of my personal experience with twins, I am going to tread lightly into the breastfeeding waters. Carefully. Because it’s sensitive to discuss this topic — at least how I view it now.

You see, I was going to be one of those mothers — the ones with a baby at their breast every second of the day. The one insisting on all the latest bonding and attachment parenting tips. I read all the books, of course, and even attended La Leche League meetings while pregnant. I knew it was what I wanted to do and NO ONE could stop me.

Except me. I stopped me.

The issue: Breastfeeding

What I did: I read and read and read everything related to having twins. I spent hours on Web sites. Even more hours in online forums, soaking up every single detail about breastfeeding twins, and breastfeeding in general. I could almost repeat what the books said verbatim by the time my girls were born healthy at 38.6 weeks.

What I did wrong: I actually did not do one thing wrong here. I did, however, get some inaccurate information along the way. One was that a breast reduction surgery that I had about seven years earlier would not interfere with breastfeeding and it did. It totally did. More than that, I read and heard a thousand times NOT to supplement with a bottle or formula and so while I waited and tried and waited for my milk to come in, which it never did, I refused to feed my children formula. Actually, just one. One had trouble latching so she automatically got formula. The other, however, latched fine but so little was coming out that I eventually — around 24 hours — relented. Oh, the guilt I carried for making those formula decisions. It was just dreadful.

My advice now: Try to breastfeed and if you feel like it comes naturally and easy for you, keep doing it as long as you see fit. But if it’s not working, when you know it’s not good for you or the baby because it hurts too much, or it is too stressful, give it up and know that you will both be happier for it. And, your baby will NOT be the loser on the playground, either. In fact, all the smart people I know were formula-fed as our generation of mothers didn’t breastfeed. However, for someone who is struggling, I say give a bottle and continue to try to breastfeed while pumping. You will know when the time is over. And you should feel good no matter how long you tried — whether it’s one hour, one day, one month or three.

Sometimes, we as mothers, just need to trust ourselves to know when something is or is not working. That’s the spark I hope to plant with this post. Trust yourself, your situation and know that no matter what you choose — it’s the right choice for you and your babies.

18 thoughts on “Two late to take it back: Breastfeeding

  1. I wish that someone would have told me before I had the girls that breastfeeding was not going to make me a better mother. When I never got milk, it was hard. I felt like a failure. Inept. You think it, I felt it. We ran tests and I took medications and did herbal remedies. We never had any explanation to why and I felt awful for weeks. Were my kids not going to be attached to me or was formula going to lessen their IQ or were they going to obese because I had to formula feed them. Well, the good news is that at nearly 9 months old, we’re happy, healthy, growing, and developing normal. All that worry about being a failure was for no reason. And the best part, it forced a decision about how we would feed and it made my husband be my helper for all those night time feeds. We also had an easy schedule and got lots more sleep because the girls were well fed. The routine, I feel, came so much easier than all my breastfeeding MoM friends. That’s right, I’m in a group of about 6 MoM and I’m the ONLY one who DOESN’T breastfeed. Way to go for them, but I relish in all the sleep we got those early months!

  2. Great post !!! For reasons I won’t go in to, I was not able to breastfeed my single or my twins. My singleton (the first) was given breast milk that I pumped. Although I initially felt like a failure for not being able to put baby to booby, I soon discovered the benefits … my husband could also feed her … at night even. For the record, he loved being able to feed her and still mentions how glad he is that I was not able to breastfeed.

    With the twins, one was in the NICU for 11 days, so it was easy to decide to pump again to evenly distribute breast milk between the two. Again … ahhh sleep when hubby took over some night feedings and let me get some much needed rest.

    I did feel a little like a cow being milked … and I had to threaten my husband to not take a photo of me … but it did provide some amusing memories … and hey, it was for a good cause.

  3. Yes, I agree! The one thing I”d say if that I have yet to meet a mom of twins who described BFing as coming easily and naturally. Even when you make it work–and I did—it is hard work for the first couple of months. Each day I thought about how much I didn’t like it and how much I wanted to quit. It was later on—8 weeks, 12 weeks, 5 months—that it was easy and a pleasure.
    .-= rebecca´s last blog ..Threadless Tshirt Giveaway at jaypeeonline.net =-.

  4. Good post. My goal was to BF and pump – with triplets, I immediately gave up the thought of BF all three. Being preemies, my girls would not latch and the hospital started bottle feeding them right away b/c of their weight.

    I had a SIL tell me that I HAD to BF – that BF babies were healthier. Well, I have 2 that never drank an ounce of b-milk and at two and a half years old, all 3 have never had any ear infections, strep throat… nothing. Just a few minor colds.

    Do what’s best for you not what others tell you is best!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Even a sister can mix them up. And other cute sayings. And a mini update. =-.

  5. AMEN!!! I didn’t even consider it with the twins because I didn’t think I could bf while on antidepressants. Plus, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone and wanted J to help. My girls are very smart – everyone tells me how advanced they are for their age. Totally felt not one iota of guilt that time around. THIS TIME, however, when I found out I was expecting a singleton, I committed myself to bf-ing. Like you, I read and read and read some more. I borrowed a pump from a friend, bought the best nursing bras…I was READY! What I wasn’t prepared for was a baby that wasn’t ready. My milk came in perfectly and all the lactation consultants told me I was doing everything right. Jax just didn’t like to nurse. But I REFUSED to give him a bottle. I loved the closeness I felt to him while bf-ing and I loved that I was giving him all these superior nutrients and such. Just when I thought he was getting the hang of it, we went to his first well visit and he wasn’t gaining weight. Long story short: he LOVED the bottle and the formula and refused to nurse. I cried. I blamed myself. I pumped “just in case” he took to nursing again. Then one day I was siting there staring off into space, hooked up to the damn pump and crying. Then I realized that I was being stupid. I stopped and never looked back. In short – I AGREE with you wholeheartedly. DO NOT LET ANYONE MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY (yourself included) IF YOU END UP NOT BREASTFEEDING!!!!!
    .-= Marnie´s last blog ..how on earth… =-.

  6. THANK YOU for posting this, Shawn! I’ve been contemplating posting a similar post- about how I tried my best but after 3 months of pumping, I had to give up- for my HEALTH and for my SANITY. (I think I was too chicken to post it!) It was hard and I felt so guilty, and I know other moms have gone thru the same thing, so it’s soooo good to hear I’m not alone. And it’s OKAY if things don’t go as planned. WONDERFUL post!
    .-= amy o´s last blog ..Prayers and Update =-.

  7. I totally get what your saying but also want to say, BFing my first one WAS SO HARD for the first 4 weeks or so, but I am so happy I stuck with it. Just because it’s not “natural” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. That’s my only issue with what you said above. I think we are tricked into thinking it’s going to be some magical/natural thing. it was not for me with either one. It hurt like hell for both and I was misrable. But here at 6 weeks out with #2 it’s easy and happy and I am glad I stuck with it even through what I considered to be extremely painful (bleeding nipples!) and not enjoyable in the least.

    Do I enjoy it now? I’m not sure I’m the type to ever revel in it, but I am very happy and proud of myself and it does make my life easier at this point. Never had to wean my toddler from a bottle and made a lot of things easier while traveling etc.

    Totally nothing wrong with formula though, I was a formula raised baby and turned out perfect :) hah!

  8. I guess it’s different for everyone. My twins were preemies and I don’t think it ever felt easy or natural. Lulu was only 3lbs 2oz at birth and never really latched, I pretty much always pumped for her. Mumu latched sometimes, sometimes not. BFing for 8 months was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, no doubt, but I’m glad that I did. The NICU my girls were in the first few weeks of their lives was extremely aggressive about getting Mothers to BF or pump- sometimes it was borderline bullying. At the time, I thought a few doctors were being a-holes, but now I think they were just doing their jobs, focusing 100% on what’s best for preemie babies, and not worrying about hurt feelings. But again, we all love our children, and everyone’s situation is different.
    .-= jungletwins´s last blog ..What I Do When I’m Supposed to be Sleeping =-.

  9. More women need to hear this, and all the other ways BFing efforts can turn out! I nursed one twin to 5 months, the other to 7 months while weaner number 1 got EBM.

    I had an idea before my daughters showed up that nursing would be easy, because it was “natural”. It was hard work, and often frustrating. The effort was worth it to me, but had it been any harder, I think it would have had serious consequences on my confidence as a mother, which wouldn’t have been good for anyone.

    So, yes, breastmilk is great for babies, but a whole healthy happy mommy is WAY more critical to their wellbeing.

    Breastfeeding is another one of those areas of parenting where moms tend to think that all experiences are the same, and they’re just not.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Ballet bust =-.

  10. I was super lucky and both babies were able to breast feed. I had no major pains or problems and it went very well. I did’t really enjoy it but I never had problems:) I breast fed as long as I could and pumped at work as long as I could but eventually stopped at 3 months. Pumping at work was horrible since the only room I could actually shut the door had a big window! They covered part of it with a poster but it didnt keep people from knocking and trying to come in!
    .-= tara´s last blog ..Hampton Family Reunion =-.

  11. Great post. I wish I would have read it along with the comments before breastfeeding my twins. I pumped for 8 weeks and it was the hardest 8 weeks of my life. I became obsessed trying to increase my supply to fully feed both twins. It never happened. One day as I was crying and pumping I realized this was ridiculous. I was missing out on enjoying my kids. It was a hard decision to stop, but I am glad I did. I applaud any woman that breast feeds, a singleton or twins!
    .-= Michele´s last blog ..Another weekend passes =-.

  12. I had my singleton first. Starting BF was incredibly hard; I needed help from a BF lactation consultant and for a few days it was more painful than childbirth. Way more.
    With the twins, I had the consultant from day one, and it worked very well. I have tiny breasts but lots of milk(!) and I can tell you that when BF works it’s way, way easier than bottle. I nursed them in the night while barely waking up.
    On the other hand, I hate from the depth of my heart the pump, which I used only occasionally.
    So: no guilt if you can’t breatfeed; but give it a try, with help. It is NOT natural at all. The first few days hurt (especially the first time). IF you can make it work, it’s easier and cheaper and (lowers voice) after the first few weeks it feels really really good. So good that I was very sorry to stop.

  13. For sure everyone has their own experience with breastfeeding. And its a personal decision. The only thing I’m against is pressuring MoMs into anything that isn’t working for their families. But I do think those MoMs who even try to breastfeed through all sorts of challenges like nurse premmies, NICU babes, etc all are heros.

    I’m not one of them. For us, breastfeeding really did come easily. My girls were full term and we were tandem feeding within hours of birth. We’re still BFing 3 or 4 times a day now at 19 months along (and not a drop of formula!)

    Now, it did hurt at first. The twins were my first and I had read that if it hurts you’re doing it wrong. Not true. It didn’t last, but there were some painful early days.

    And pumping isn’t fun. I went back to work at 10 weeks, and thankfully my office is really understanding about pumping. But I can’t wait to ditch that thing.

    Finally a word about supply. I stressed about this. Never pumped enough for a meal in one session. Resorted to pumping in the middle of the night (babes were asleep and I was up, the insanity!) But in hindsight, I think my girls are just light eaters. I had an idea of what they needed, and they had another. If they’re gaining weight and seem satisfied, try not to worry.

    Oh yeah, one more thing. As much as I love AP ideals, we needed to schedule for my sanity. I can see why it’s a bad idea, but scheduling worked for us.

    That’s what it’s all about. What works for you.

    Oh, and although BFing was pretty easy from day one, and helped us through a mild first year of twindom (for example, a lot of those early nights were spend me on the couch, EZ@Nurse pillow around me and a babe on each side. They and I could and did sleep that way.) BFing did get easier and easier as the girls got older. Positioning newborns was a little tricky. 9 month olds who can move and get where they want to are great, and 13 month olds that no longer need a pillow are even easier!

    We’re on the verge of weaning now. At 19 months we BF as much for me as for the twins. When it becomes less important to them, say in another few months, we’ll close this chapter. I’ll be sad (at least a little!)

  14. I’m still breastfeeding my kiddos at 27 months! It took us 12 weeks of triplefeeding HELL before they could exclusively nurse, but once they figured it out we never looked back. I’m glad I stuck with it, but I understand that it just doesn’t work with every family. I’m a big believer in moms supporting each other — be it to accomplish their dream of breastfeeding multiples — or to say it is okay when the bottle is a better option for a sane mom and family.

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