My Journey Learning to Breastfeed Twins

breastfeeding twins

At my station.

When I first found out I was pregnant with twins, the one thing that kept me up at night (literally) was how to breastfeed them?! Finally, mother of 7-year-old twins and bestie Elizabeth came to visit my blood-shot-eyed-self and explained how it was done and how to set a twins schedule. A few days later, she even showed me pictures of her feeding her own sons back in the day. And I started to get some sleep again.

Then my babies were born. ONE good thing about having a C-Section was the extra days I got in the hospital to establish nursing my twins with the help of the staff. Being so determined, I made sure my girls and I had it down… and we did… or so I thought.

In fact, originally I thought my hubby would have to wake up for nighttime feedings to help me once we were back home, but I even figured out how to slip into my savior, the double nursing pillow (love, love, LOVE it), pick up one baby, then the other, position them both in football hold and we were on our way.

It wasn’t the latch. It was no longer figuring out HOW to do it. It was the HOUR or so I sat there, only to have two babies screaming afterward. How could they POSSIBLY still be hungry?! I was in complete denial that things weren’t going well.

At our first pediatrician appointment four days after leaving the hospital, the doctor had his red flags up because the girls hadn’t regained their birth weight. He suggested we (yes, this was a team effort to get three big kids and two newborns to an appointment on time) bring them back by the end of the week. When that day came and they had not gained any weight, I was devastated.

Our pediatrician is very pro-breastfeeding and he said that after feeding them, I should now offer them 1 ounce of formula after every other feeding. I welled up with tears and he said that my body was likely producing plenty of milk for ONE baby, but perhaps not two.

Giving this new system a whirl, I began taking Fenugreek and tea for nursing mothers that Elizabeth brought me and even tried Guinness that bestie Leslie brought me… I started to feel as though I was somewhat more rested (yeah, right…) and didn’t need the formula after all.

The dreaded weigh-in

Our next appointment was about two weeks later and after the holidays. One baby only gained 2 ounces (versus the preferred  pound a week) and one lost weight. I was heartbroken.

Now this was officially major cause for concern. Can the babies gain weight or is something wrong? It was here that I was put on what I call: Breastfeeding Bootcamp. It was awful. Mind you, I really didn’t have the care of these new additions to our family together yet as it was, but NOW I had to feed the girls 2 ounces of formula each at every feeding, then breastfeed, then pump.

Not only did this mean even less sleep, even more time that I would have preferred to dedicate to my other kids and hubby, but it also meant a lot more work. It sucked.

My friend Lina and her adorable family came to visit one evening and kept saying: It’s only 1 week. My hubby kept saying: It’s only 1 week. I knew it was ONLY 1 WEEK. But it was rough.

After the grueling seven days, we once again packed up the kids to head to our next weigh in appointment. We knew that either these babies had gained weight, or our next stop was the hospital to put them on IVs. It was nerve wracking to say the least.

AT LONG LAST, the girls had gained! It was an incredible relief and I once again welled up with tears.

Admittedly, before being scared out of my mind, I had quite the bias against formula. Had I just been able to let that go, I would have had healthier and happier babies… not to mention more sleep. It’s just that I have NEVER given any of my other three kids anything other than breast milk. My lesson was learned however and our first stop after this appointment was to Target to pick up my new best friend: more formula!

Since that 5 week appointment, I have done exactly as I was told: Breastfeed the twins, then offer 2 ounces of formula after EVERY feeding. It’s done wonders. The babies continue to grow on target (even making up for some lost weight), they are happy and the whole family is getting more sleep!

After finally getting down exactly HOW to feed them, the 6 week mark hit and I have to say it was like a cloud was lifted. Finally, I am able to better enjoy our newest additions with their sweet first smiles and my big family.

To get there, I must thank EVERYONE who cooked meals for us, gave the kids rides, hosted play dates, etc. Our house had non-stop traffic that started at 7:45 am with the neighbors taking the 6 year old to school (thank you Jill!), then 8:30am to take the 4 year old to preschool 5 days a week and twice a week the 2 year old (thank you Grant and Amy M!), on the days the 2 year old didn’t have school Tina or Elizabeth picked her up (thank you!!!), then the drop offs started. Cindy or Amy B. generally brought the 4 year old home (and Anne and Ashley took days, too!), some days Amy M or Grant brought the 2 year old and 4 year old home, the other days the 2 year old was brought home after being treated to a morning out, and Amy B, Elizabeth or Tina would either bring the 6 year old home from school, or keep her and pick up the 4 year old for a play date.

Once everyone was home again, we would have another knock on the door for dinner to be delivered. We are VERY, very lucky to have such amazing friends and could have never survived the first 6 weeks without them! Thank you to Patti for setting up our care calendar to keep track of who was coming for who and which days on this site: http://www.carecalendar.org/
And Alex, Elizabeth and Kathy for setting up our meal calendar on this site: http://www.foodtidings.com/
We never once had to think of what to eat for dinner or what to feed the kids for the full SIX weeks! Thank you so much everyone!!!

What all these amazing mom friends can tell you is that every one of them saw me nursing the twins at some point in my station. What it includes:

– A nursing chair.
– A double nursing pillow.
– A bed pillow that I use to prop up the nursing pillow and two blankets for underneath the babies’ heads so they are at the same level as the breasts.
– Burp cloths.
– A television with DVR.
– A side table.
– On the side table: a huge glass of ice water, a pitcher of back up water, Us Weekly, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, bottles of formula I prepare right before a feeding and the TV remote control.

Making it comfy with an endless supply of entertainment meant the amount of time I spent in my station (initially 10 hours a day!) was more of a treat… just like my twins.

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Comments

  1. Michelle says

    Phew! I’m exhausted just reading that!!! 🙂 Congrats on your beautiful family and surviving the first few weeks with your twins! Well done.

  2. You did it, mama! A Herculean effort to say the least buy it is all paying off. Those beautiful girls (and the other three too!) are so lucky to have a mom who’s so dedicated to doing what’s best for them. 🙂

  3. This sounds exactly like my first 6 weeks. I have a 3 y/o and 7 month old twins. My husband was able to stay home for 12 weeks but he was in and out of the house since we were in the midst of renovating and adding on a living room. I supplemented with formula also for a few weeks and then just extra milk, but by 3 months they were back to getting a few oz of formula. It is heartbreaking but its more heartbreaking when they are starving and can’t wait to be fed! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Wow. I am so impressed. Go mommy.

  5. Thank you Michelle!
    And thank you Kathy 🙂 Thanks to you, we were well fed! Very much appreciated!!!
    Lois, That’s amazing that you have TWO sets of twins — wow! Double the double of love 😉
    And thank you Joanna!

  6. You are super woman! I got dizzy just reading this. You have such a beautiful family.

  7. AND you’ve kept us all entertained by continuing your other love…Breezy Mama! You are amazing. xoxo

  8. Reading this makes my boobs hurt! I knew you could do it, and you DID! Go Mama!

  9. More power to you. I don’t even think I would have attempted it. Glad you found the right balance and that you were still able to breastfeed. I have known a lot of moms who won’t even consider formula but I also know plenty of healthy kids who were formula fed, but I am glad you can breastfeed. I wonder if you will keep it up for the full year? I am sure you will keep posted.

  10. Kristy Barkley says

    You are amazing and you give me hope! I wasn’t able to breastfeed Isaac, but maybe I didn’t try long enough. Doc just said I wasn’t producing enough milk to fill him up. But now I will put more effort and sleepless night into getting Andrew breastfed. Worries me, and that is just one! So you are a total Rock Star mom!

  11. Wow! What an incredible emotional journey. I wasn’t a fan of giving my little guy formula but my body couldn’t keep up after a while. I couldn’t imagine having to nurse twins. You are a rock star!

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