Breastfeeding rates are on the rise. We’ve all heard the “Breast is Best” slogan. New mothers everywhere are enjoying more breastfeeding support than ever before. It’s a great time to be a breastfeeding mother.
I’ve enjoyed breastfeeding all six of my children. Each child had their individual challenges: latch problems, fussiness, clogged ducts, oversupply, low supply, returning to work and trying to pump.
My greatest challenge has been breastfeeding my twins, Harmony and David.
As a “seasoned” mother I knew I needed to nurse them right away after their birth in order to establish a good start for breastfeeding. We were very blessed to be able to deliver our twins vaginally at 38 weeks. The babies did not require any NICU time and were able to breastfeed in the first hour after their birth. I worked hard during my twin pregnancy to grow healthy babies and keep them in utero as long as possible.
The first time I tried to tandem breastfeed both babies was … interesting. I used a football hold with both babies and a lot of pillows. Both babies were able to latch and I kept them on for almost an hour. The great thing about tandem nursing twins is it stimulates the breasts twice as much. Your body gets the message that milk is needed, and plenty of it.
We asked the nurses not to give our babies any bottles or pacifiers. We kept the babies in the room with us as often as possible. I nursed them anytime they made a noise. If I was holding them, I was nursing them. I believe this constant contact was essential for our breastfeeding success. The twins were champion nursers and we were able to go home 24 hours after birth.
At home I focused all my efforts into breastfeeding. I settled into my little nest on the couch: pillows, a blanket, a large glass of ice water, my phone, the remotes and babies. I would nurse them individually as well as tandem. I didn’t worry about setting schedules at first. We breastfed on demand – if the babies cried, I breastfed them. If they weren’t breastfeeding, I was pumping. I pumped to increase my supply and to store milk for the occasional bottle from daddy so I could sleep. During the first three weeks the twins did receive one 2 ounce bottle of formula in the evening to keep their body weight up as I worked to establish my breastmilk supply. It didn’t take long for my body to kick into high gear.
The one item that made life my life so much easier was my Brest Friend twin nursing pillow. I highly recommend this pillow for any mother expecting twins. I wore that pillow 80% of the time every day for the first six weeks. The pillow is large and square-shaped, perfect for setting up babies in the football hold tandem position. It’s firm and supportive, but also soft and snuggly. We often slept on the couch with the babies wrapped around me on the nursing pillow.
Neighbors, friends, family and church members brought us dinners for two weeks. We were SO blessed. My husband was able to spend the first week at home with us, helping with our four other children and taking care of the house. I was able to focus on breastfeeding our new babies.
That first month was a haze of feedings. I ate constantly. I was thirsty all the time. As we hit the dreaded growth spurts that often threaten new breastfeeding relationships I took Fenugreek to increase my breastmilk supply.
Breastfeeding is hard work. It’s hard enough to feed one baby. Breastfeeding twins requires commitment. You have to push past set-backs. You have to be determined to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six weeks. I had to tell myself, “just feed them for the first three weeks, you can do the first three weeks.” Then I would set a new goal: the first six weeks, the first three months, the first six months. It was work – but it was worth all the effort.
Our babies grew, healthy and strong. They were not overly jaundiced because the constant feeding helped eliminate bilirubin from our babies’ bodies. Breastmilk has a laxative effect and frequent breastfeeding helps lower bilirubin levels. Whenever one of our other children would be sick with a virus I knew the babies would be protected by the antibodies in my breastmilk. I was able to lose 70 pounds – all of my twin pregnancy weight – in five months.
My purpose in sharing our story is not to discourage any twin moms. Breastfeeding is wonderful. The sweetest moments I’ve ever experienced as a mother happened while holding my babies, snuggling them, feeding them. There is a special closeness that develops with breastfeeding. I hope all moms can experience that joy.
But often new moms will experience very common frustrations as they breastfeed. So much of the information presented tells moms it’s easy, don’t worry, your body knows what to do – and that can be very confusing when a problem arises. Moms start to doubt themselves and their natural abilities. It’s important to know that breastfeeding is natural, it can be easy and yes, your body does know what to do. But it also takes dedication and some effort in the beginning.
These are a few sites that were very informative and helpful:
Be informed, dedicated and prepared. Don’t let anything get in the way of your breastfeeding success. You’re doing the very best thing for your baby and that is all that matters.
Most importantly: enjoy breastfeeding
This is such a special time in a woman’s life. It doesn’t last long. Cherish every moment. Have fun with your babies. Tickle them while they nurse and be rewarded with milky grins. Smell their sweet skin as they snuggle close to you. Kiss the little fingers that reach up to touch your face. These are precious moments, don’t let anyone steal that from you. Family members and friends might mean well when they say, “just one little bottle won’t hurt.” Stay strong mama. No one will understand why you have to fiercely protect your breastfeeding relationship. The first few weeks are crucial.
Breastfeed at home, at the store, at the park, at church, at the library. Breastfeed as often as you can. You and your baby deserve the best. Breastfeeding is good for you and good for your baby.
We’ve now been breastfeeding our twins for six months. I’m very proud of our accomplishment. There are still struggles. The twins are teething. And the six-month growth spurt has been a challenge. But the good far outweighs any hardships. Lounging on the couch in a sleepy pile of snuggles, feeding my two babies is wonderful. I’m looking forward to the next six months.