When I found out I was expecting twins one of the first thoughts I had was, seriously, how will I be able to breastfeed TWO babies...together?
Luckily, this was not my first rodeo. I had successfully nursed my singleton daughter, so I knew what it was like to breastfeed at least one baby. Still, I tried to imagine the challenges that lie ahead of me with twins to feed. Would I have enough milk? Would my twins be good eaters or fussy ones? What if we couldn't all get comfortable? What if it was too time consuming? What if I simply couldn't manage it?
There were just so many unknowns.
Now, I will have to interject here that my experience happened many years ago in 2006. I know, I know, it took me a while to get something in writing to share with all of you faithful readers! The point is, back then there was not nearly as much data out there as there is so readily today.
I searched the web for information, which was sparse, at least when it came to twins. I bought twin pregnancy books, which were somewhat helpful and encouraging.
Yet, I could not even find a decent picture of someone actually breastfeeding twins...Especially all of the different ways you could do it! There was the "football hold", the "football and cradle", the "upright latch", and the "cross hold", just to name a few. Some of these were really hard to envision with just a diagram to go off of.
In the end, I decided I would just have figure it out when the time came (like most moms do!). So, the rest of my story is really a timeless one.
I already had some handy gear in my inventory from my previous baby, so that was good. My trusty Madela breast pump was still working perfectly and I had my Boppy nursing pillow. No, I was not aware of any "twin" nursing pillows at the time. Had they even been invented yet? I would have LOVED one.
I bought baby formula and bottles just in case the whole breastfeeding didn't work out. I nailed down my mom to come and help me during the first couple of weeks (she was a total breastfeeding pro back in her day!). My husband and I discussed the different possibilities when it came to scheduling feedings, particularly the nighttime ones. I was as prepared as I would ever be.
Then my identical twin boys arrived prematurely at 36 weeks.
The boys were pretty healthy, yes, but so tiny. Just over 5lbs. each. So, they had to remain in the NICU for about a week to make sure they gained weight, avoided jaundice, and could keep their breathing regulated.
At this stage, breastfeeding was incredibly challenging. I was sore, tired, and hormonal. I had to travel down the hall to the NICU and then sit behind a privacy screen in a not-so-comfortable chair and try to get down to the business of feeding these tiny babies. Every. Two. Hours.
Thank goodness the nurses were there to help!
My twins both started with a very weak latch. Not to mention, my boobs were at least three times bigger than their heads, so I always felt like my nipples were going to gag them. Not a good start.
On top of that, I had to use the hospital's industrial strength breast pump in between feedings to make sure my milk would come in and, once it did, to keep the supply up. My boys did not yet have their suckling down strongly enough to build my milk supply. This pretty much meant I was either nursing or pumping all the time. I was so tired I wanted to cry.
When my milk finally came it on day three it was a huge relief. What ever milk I could pump the nurses would save and then serve up in a Haberman feeder (a specially designed bottle that's ideal for babies learning to breastfeed) when I wasn't breastfeeding. This helped make sure they were getting enough and it also helped me get some much needed rest, how ever little it was.
On a positive note, my boys were on a solid schedule when they were discharged. Those NICU nurses don't mess around when it comes to feeding routines. They were such a huge help!
Once we were all home I had to learn how to get these babies fed without the helping hands of the nurses or my husband. He had to go back to work and my mom could not stay around forever.
Eventually I became totally comfortable with the double football hold with the support of my Boppy Pillow and a couple of extra pillows under each twin. I would plant myself and my babies in the middle of our king size bed, so there was no one rolling off. And then get myself, my pillows, and then my boys situated for nursing.
They did great!
They were good eaters and good sleepers. I can't say which talent is more important, but I felt lucky that they were inclined to do both.
I was able to successfully tandem breastfeed my twins for the first 6 months. Eventually, I started to have a hard time keeping my milk supply up with the demand. And also, it was nice to have my husband helping out with some bottle feeding as they got older. I went on to pump for a few more months, so that they were still getting some breast milk and supplemented with formula.
All in all it was an unforgettable experience for me. I am so glad to share my story and too, that there are so many more stories out there to read.
I hope you will join me in the opportunity to support eachother on our unique journeys through motherhood. You can submit your own story below.
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