Breastfeeding Woes

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Categories Breastfeeding, Mommy Issues

I have had three children, but I have never breastfed. Correction, my babies have never fed from my breast. Other than a few minutes in the hospital when they might have gotten a few drops, I do not know what it feels like to nurse a baby. I pump and they do still get breastmilk, but it is from a bottle.

Somehow, my intentions to breastfeed is always trumped by some other need: for my nipples not to hurt, for the ease of having someone else feed the baby, for the speed of pumping and bottlefeeding.

While pregnant with my first, I was blissfully unaware that there may even be difficulties breastfeeding. Women have been doing it for eternity, I had friends who nurse without a problem, and it didn’t occur to me that I would be any different. After Toddler was born, nurses told me she had a great latch. But due to the c-section, my body took its time to produce milk. I think it wasn’t until day 6 when I came home that anything even began coming out. Meanwhile, the baby developed jaundice and needed to eat. Doctors and nurses told me she needed to be fed formula, and she was under bili-lights for 2 or 3 days. As first time parents, we panicked that our 8 lb. baby was starving. So though I really wanted to breastfeed, we gave her formula as directed, fed from a cup.

When my milk did finally come in, it was not enough for her. She was voracious! Her latch must have not been as great as the nurses told me, because my nipples were not just sore, they were bleeding blisters. Suffice it to say, I dreaded feeding my daughter. That is when I decided to just pump and give my nipples a rest. Oh my! She took to the bottle like a champ. Feedings now took only 5 minutes whereas nursing would be seemingly nonstop. Pumping only took 10 minutes, so altogether even adding in the time for washing the bottles and pump pieces I still made out. So somehow I just never made it back to nursing. I figured with going back to work anyway, might as well just pump full time. Spurred on with the guilt I felt for not being able to nurse her, I exclusively pumped for 8 months. By the end, I was so jealous of those women who never had to wash a pump piece or even know what a pump was.

The second time around, I knew I didn’t want to be washing bottles and pump pieces anymore. A good friend of mine had successfully nursed her twins for over a year, so I thought I could attempt it at least. I planned an extended maternity leave to relieve the pressure of returning to work. I even attended a few La Leche meetings and heard more stories of breastfed twins. I was not so naive this time, however. I knew now that it wasn’t all butterflies and flowers. Even successful breastfeeding had its drawbacks. But still, wanting to be able to nurse my twins created the most anxiety for me throughout all of my pregnancy.

In the hospital this time, I demanded attention from the lactation consultant. She visited me every day, multiple times a day. But c-section again, I had no milk. Baby boy latched ok sometimes, but baby girl wasn’t getting the hang of it. It felt kind of silly to practice latching while I had no milk, like we were just teasing them. So after a couple days we spent a small fortune on two bottles with special nipples that supposedly mimics suckling from a breast and gave them formula, still holding out hope that nursing would happen in the future.

But in my sleep deprived and hormonal-emotional state, I just didn’t have it in me to persevere. No suffering with sore nipples, wondering whether my babies were eating enough, crying with them during feedings this time for me. I gave in, went to exclusive pumping, and even ditched that stupid specially designed nipple in favor of faster feedings.

Every two hours during the day, I spend 10 minutes with my pump. It’s a love-hate relationship. I’ve managed to get to almost 40 oz a day, but with two babies to feed sometimes we still need to give a bottle of formula, and that’s ok. While not the ideal peacefully-tandem-nursing-while-I-lovingly-gaze-at-them situation that I dreamed of, pumping definitely has had its advantages. Husband can feed one when I’m feeding the other, we know exactly how much each baby is eating, I actually get some time to myself while I’m pumping, and best of all: I’ve had the chance to leave the house, tend to Toddler, and do other things in two-hour increments without having a baby on me half the time and being on-call for feedings the other half.

It’s a demanding pump schedule for sure– hopefully I can get to 3 hr increments without losing too much output. And though I plan to continue for as long as I can handle to provide breastmilk for my babies, I will not be beating myself up about it. I suppose I will always feel Mommy-guilt for one parenting decision or another, but I’m finally at peace with this one.

How have you chosen to feed your multiples, and why?

lunchldyd is a mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and her 3 month old twin brother and sister. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs.


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lunchldyd is mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and their 5.5 year old sister. She is now teaches part-time to juggle the needs of her young children. When not at work and the kids are asleep, she is addicted to watching TV and sometimes sacrifices sleep to read in bed. She lives in the Los Angeles suburbs with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

9 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Woes”

  1. You’re doing great, lady! I made it to 4 weeks in your same situation with my twin boys when I finally decided that I was driving myself a little cuckoo with the pumping and that the time had come to switch to formula. I was content knowing I gave it all I had and made it way farther than I ever thought I would. I’m glad to see you aren’t going to beat yourself up about it when the time comes for you. We can only do so much with 2 babies without sacrificing our sanity!

  2. Breastfeeding is such a touchy subject that I’m kind of afraid to answer! 😉 Bottom line, you gotta do what works!

    That said, here’s my experience. I was able to nurse my twins for 14 months. They were born full term, via c-section, and with the help of my doula I was able to get them latched on in the recovery room. It wasn’t always easy, but I’m really glad we were able to breastfeed as long as we did. :)

  3. My twins were 6 weeks early. I pumped until their due date out of that very same Momma guilt that you mention above. Then I switched to formula JOYOUSLY!!

  4. I pumped for Baby B with the jaw problem, and breastfed Baby A. After 2 months I switched them both the exclusive breastfeeding. I knocked myself out, had trouble keeping weight on (on! after having twins!) and never slept.
    In the end, I have mixed feelings – I’m glad they got the nutrition, but was it worth what I put myself through? I’m pretty sure now (at 2.5) we’d be in the exact same place, no matter how or what I fed them!

  5. My boys were also ~6 weeks early and since it became habit to pump while they were in the NICU I never even tried to switch to actual breastfeeding when they came home. It was definitely challenging- I was pumping 7-8 times daily (including 1-2 middle of the night pumps long after they were sleeping through the night) but I called it quits when they hit 7 months. I felt really strongly that they get breastmilk for at least the first 6 months- but I sure didn’t feel bad about it when I stopped :)

  6. You’re doing great. As you know from your elder child, it is tough road, but a doable one. I pumped for a year with my twins but I took it one day at a time. Giving breastmilk was very important to me, but I knew if I looked at the road ahead, I would feel way too overwhelmed. I too tried to get my little ones to breastfeed. Through our efforts, I ended up getting great advice from a lactation consultant about pumping. You may already know these tips, but here are some things that saved me after the three month mark: 1. power pump in the evenings to get your supply up to where you are comfortable (may take a week, but no longer), then you can back off the strict 2-3 hour pumping schedule and just make sure you get 8 sessions in a day. 2. if you store your pump bottles and flanges in the fridge between sessions, you do not have to wash them after each pumping session. I only washed my gear twice a day after the kids were 3 months old. 3. Power pumping to increase my supply so I was a full day ahead on bottles really saved my sanity. That way I was able to pick my pump times and not “have” to pump before the next bottle.

  7. I see myself in your experiences a lot. I had the same problems with latching, in the first few weeks the babies lost weight so the doctor and even the lactation nurse (!) told us to do formula. I lasted 10 weeks pumping then my supply just went away. I still regret all that but I did what I could. Hang in there. My b/g twins are 3-1/2 now. And they’re perfect. :)

  8. Thanks for posting this. I’m about 17 weeks pregnant with twins and the breastfeeding dilemna is about the biggest stressor I have right now. So, it’s helpful to hear your experience, as well as the comments of others!

  9. Wow – I always wondered if I was the only one to have breast fed in this way. premature twins, NICU and tired me- My girls must have latched on only once or twice in the NICU and I had started pumping as I was home, so when they came home I just continued pumping and fed them from the baby bottles. The milk needed to be supplemented but I was able to do this 8 times pumping jig for 11 months without having fed them directly ever. It enabled me to return to full time work as well and then I could pump at the workplace and bring home their milk.

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