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Twins & Breastfeeding Goals: What’s Realistic?

Jun25

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Hi Amy,

Advice Smackdown ArchivesI am 27 weeks pregnant with twins and have started to do my research on breastfeeding. I went to a class where we got to try all the different kinds of pumps (on our stomach) which was cool and spoke briefly to the lactation consultant. I know that breastfeeding is harder than I think it will be and with twins especially, it will be taxing, time consuming, and not at all what I expect.  At this point I am planning on breastfeeding and supplementing with formula and pumping so my husband (and family) can help feed them. I am also planning on going back to work full time 8-12 weeks after they are born (depending on how my leave works out) but will be working from home some days.

I keep telling people that even if my babies don’t breastfeed I want to “pump the crap” out of my boobs, b/c it is cheaper and breastmilk is really good for them and also selfishly for the weight loss/uterine contraction benefit. I guess my question is: How unrealistic am I being? Is pumping a lot harder/painful/time consuming than it seems? In my head it seems to make sense that even if they can’t ever latch right or whatever, I could just pump a bunch with one of those hands free pumps, freeze it, and give them bottles.  Am I terrible for hoping that I’ll be able to breastfeed b/c of the selfish reasons mentioned above? Obviously, if it doesn’t work out – it doesn’t work out and I am okay with that and also I know I can’t predict what is going to happen. Anyway, just wanted to see what you thought.

JL

I don’t think you’re being unrealistic at all! My goodness, no. In fact, I think you’re being perfectly realistic — you’re definitely going to try, but understand that it’s a wild card and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If you were maybe acting like anything other than nursing your twins exclusively was some kind of great nightmare of faillllllllure, then maybe I’d worry a little bit. But you’re not! Pumping, supplementing, whatever. You’re going feed those babies, and that’s what’s important.

My advice is to speak with that lactation consultant again, and maybe interview a couple other options to make sure you find someone you click with, and who has some extra experience with mothers of multiples. Perhaps there’s even someone who’s willing to come to your house after the birth (like a postpartum doula) so you’re not packing up two newborns and schlepping out to multiple appointments at first. And find out NOW what your pumping options will be at work — can they offer you an office or small room with a lock, or will they assume you’re fine pumping in the bathroom? Do they understand how just how many pumping breaks you’ll likely need at eight weeks, or will your set-up allow you to pump hands-free while still being able to type or answer phones or whatever? Will there be refrigeration at your work?

But hey, many many many many women have successfully breastfed twins — exclusively, part-time, tandem, nursed one twin after the other weaned, etc. — and just as many women have continued to pump long after their babies no longer nursed from the breast. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s actually…not. Really. One person’s good or bad experience has absolutely no bearing on what breastfeeding will be like for you, for these particular babies.

As for whether pumping is really “a lot harder/painful/time consuming than it seems,” that’s probably just as much of a wildcard as nursing itself. Pumping definitely shouldn’t hurt, provided you’ve got the right size cup-thingies and the right pump setting. And your feelings about the pump in general can certainly play a big part. I had a sort-of bad experience with pumping when Noah was born — an experience that was partly my own inexperience/ignorance , partly my hysterical feelings about my supply issues, and partly a lactation consultant I didn’t quite jibe with. My early experience colored my feelings towards the pump in general and I was never a fan.

Not so after Ezra, though, because I had a mindset more like yours: I was definitely going to try this again, but if it didn’t work out, that was okay too. So the pump just became Another Thing I Did while building up my supply (and it gave me much-needed breaks in the days before Ezra’s tongue-tie was corrected), and I found pumping to be easy and no big deal and DAYUM, look at all the milk in my freezer! Go me! Thumps chest! Hooray boobs! I pumped regularly up until the day Ezra weaned. (I briefly considered continuing to pump after that, but by that point my…um…output was so paltry that it just wasn’t really worth it.)

Now, I was at home, not at an office, so there is that. But details aside, I think my mindset was even more important: That I was open to nursing, pumping, supplementing or a hybrid of all three. That I wanted my baby to get as much breastmilk as my body could produce but understood that I might not make enough or my baby might not latch or any number of things that were maybe not entirely under my control might happen. I ended up being more than pleasantly surprised at how well it all worked out, and I have high hopes that the same will be true for you.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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31 Responses to “Twins & Breastfeeding Goals: What’s Realistic?”

  1. kari weber Jun 25 at 11:14 am Reply Reply

    I think that the point about your pumping at work situation is SO important! With my first son, I went back to work when he was 8 weeks old.  I was a teacher, he was born in July, I had to go back when school started in September.  I thought, I would just pump in the classroom during lunch.  I had NO window coverings on my windows so I had to build myself little barricades at my desk to sit back there.  Then there were the few times that the custodian would bring a child in for a forgotten lunch.  I would see them coming past my front window and have to RIP my pump off and shove it under the desk and yank my shirt down. I finally told the custodian what I was doing so that he wouldn’t bring kids in, but then I felt like I was having to disclose too much.  On top of it all, I didn’t have a sink in my classroom, so I would have to bag up all my pump parts each time, trek across school to the staff lounge, and wash them in front of anyone that was in there.  Needless to say, that pumping, and breastfeeding only lasted about 5 more months, and I couldn’t do it anymore.  I had been exclusively breastfeeding or feeding pumped milk and I was stressed!  When he was 7 months I had a mini-breakdown one morning when I couldn’t get anything pumped and had to cancel a special thing I was supposed to go to, and then just QUIT cold turkey.  Not good.
    With my second son, who was born in April, by the time I went back to work in September, I was more, “eh.  if I get time to pump I do, if not, he can have some formula” WAAAAY more healthy for ME, and my life, and we are still nursing at night at 14 months.  So, my advice is, do what keeps you sane, especially with twins, and you will probably be MUCH more successful!

  2. Hi, I'm Natalie. Jun 25 at 11:17 am Reply Reply

    Join a twins group! I don’t know where you live, but here there are both pregnancy groups/classes for people expecting multiples, as well as for those who already have their wee ones. I’m told the support/advice that you can get from other parents of multiples is exceptional. (A girlfriend of mine had twins in December and she’s exclusively fed them breastmilk from nursing and pumping – She’s had no problems with supply.) Good luck!

  3. bessie.viola Jun 25 at 11:28 am Reply Reply

    So awesome that you’re planning ahead. I hope everything works perfectly for you! But if it doesn’t – fear not. All will be well. I have a very STUBBORN baby who simply would.not.latch for anything. I pumped exclusively for 10 months and it was fine. I second Amy’s thoughts about setting up your pumping situation prior to your leave – it’s just much more reassuring to know what you’re coming back to, whatever way it works out. I fretted about what I’d do all through maternity leave. I work in a cubicle, and on the first day back the CEO of the company gave me a key to his office and permission to kick him out whenever (while that may sound weird, he’s my best friend’s dad and I’ve known him forever. He was a recent grandfather and understood the importance of bf’ing). And it WILL work out – it’s really, really easy to get caught up or stressed about it. But whatever happens, your babies will be fed and well. Good luck & congratulations!

  4. bessie.viola Jun 25 at 11:30 am Reply Reply

    Oh! And a lactation consultant! Find one, get to know her. If you haven’t chosen a pediatrician yet, try to find an office with one on staff/on call – they are immensely helpful.

  5. Amy Jun 25 at 11:32 am Reply Reply

    Get the best Cadillac of a pump you can. I couldn’t let down for a pump at all, and I nursed my oldest for 28 months and my youngest for 22 (with 9 months through my second pregnancy and 9 months of tandem nursing). I often wonder if a better pump would’ve given me a better result. Those cheap little hand pumps are not your friend.

    Also, investigate your local La Leche League. I would not have had any success with breastfeeding my first child if I hadn’t found an amazing LLL Leader who fixed all my problems. My mom was a LLL Leader herself when I was a baby, so I thought I had all the help I needed. Wrong. You’ll need help, support, and advice, so start forming that relationship now.

    Your local LLL may be able to put you in touch with another mom of twins in your area who has had a successful BFing experience. While Amy’s right that one mom’s experience (good or bad) has no bearing on yours, sometimes it helps to talk to someone who has been through what you’re going through. I know I felt like the only mother on the planet who had ever tandem nursed when I was doing it and that was hard. All my friends thought I was insane (none of them have kids) and would say, “Just wean the older one, already,” when I complained about feeling like a dairy cow. The nursing relationship is a lot more complex than that!

    Good luck!!

  6. J Jun 25 at 12:02 pm Reply Reply

    That was a fantastic post. The last paragraph, the “I’ll do my best but be prepared for whatever might happen and open to whatever worked” is where I’ve FINALLY gotten to now that my twins are 10.5 months old, after way too much angst and guilt. I wish I’d read something like this when I was pregnant or just starting down the difficult nursing road we’ve traveled (both twins have recently self-weaned, though I’m continuing to offer the breast and to pump when I’m at work or when they’re napping).

  7. Alexa Jun 25 at 12:05 pm Reply Reply

    I went back to work at 6 weeks and pumped while at work. I think we started supplementing at 6 months. At any rate, what I wanted to say is that I enjoyed pumping. I was lucky to a have an employer that made it easy. My pumping space was a single decent sized bathroom with a locking door, and it felt like a treat to have two 15-20 minute periods during the day where I could sit quietly and read a book or magazine without anyone to bother me.
    I was bummed when I stopped pumping…which I did at 8 months. The supply dwindled away. Good luck with everything.

  8. Emma B Jun 25 at 12:08 pm Reply Reply

    A few twin-specific pieces of advice here, from someone who exclusively nursed twins for a year:

    — Do NOT buy a breast pump prior to delivery. Wait until after the babies are born, and you can assess health/feasibility/supply concerns more accurately. Rent a hospital-grade pump for the first month or two — you will likely do better with it for milk-production reasons anyway — and then consider purchasing a PIS or similar after that. Don’t even waste your time with anything lower-grade than that, not for pumping with twins.

    — Begin pumping for a few minutes after every feeding ASAP, even before your milk really comes in. It’s not so much about the output as it is about signaling your body that it’s got to make more milk to feed two babies. Far better to wind up with oversupply (and honestly, it’s tough to have much oversupply when there are two of them) than to fight low milk supply.

    — Do not get hung up on tandem nursing. It’s really hard to do correctly with small floppy sleepy babies, and if you do it badly, you will tear your nipples up from poor latching. Try it once or twice in the hospital with a lactation consultant, just so you understand the theory, but then wait until the babies are six or eight weeks old and starting to exert some head control. I also had an EZ-2-Nurse twin nursing pillow, and I think it helped a lot more than a Boppy.

    — Demand-feeding works a little differently with twins, because it’s absolutely vital for your sanity to keep their schedules in some semblance of sync. Modified demand feeding is the way to go here — when one baby wakes up, feed it and then wake the other one up to nurse, whether or not it’s awake and hungry.

    — Karen Gromada’s _Mothering Multiples_ book, published by La Leche League, is very helpful. She is also the moderator of the multiples forum on the LLL website, and is extremely helpful and encouraging.

  9. Jackie Jun 25 at 12:15 pm Reply Reply

    Totally agree with the comment about La Leche League. I had a few problems in the beginning and LLL leaders and fellow moms at the meetings helped me work through them. I pumped at work for 9 months (after a 12 week+ maternity leave) and we are still nursing (my son just turned two). LLL was nothing but supportive and I made some new friends in the process.

  10. Sally Jun 25 at 12:19 pm Reply Reply

    Yay for breastfeeding twins and being realistic.  I breastfed my twins for 14 months.  For 6 months of that, I was in school, so I did a lot of pumping/supplementing with formula. Also, I was a selfish breastfeeder, too.  I didn’t want to pay for formula and I really didn’t want to spend time washing a thousand bottles a day.  When my boys were 6th months old, I was the skinniest I’ve been in my adult life (no longer there, sadly).

    You’ve gotten a lot of good pumping advice already, so I’ll give you some twin specific advice.  Get an EZ2Nurse twins nursing pillow and find a big, comfy chair or couch to nurse on.  Boppys and other pillows are nothing compared to this one.  Join a mothers of multiples club if you have one in your area, someone there might have one you can borrow or buy.  I found it worked best for me to always nurse them at the same time, once they got the latch figured out, but you will find what works for you and your babies.  I don’t blog much, but I have  a few posts about breastfeeding twins on my now-defunct blog kingstonduo.blogspot.com.

    Good luck!

  11. Rebecca Jun 25 at 12:41 pm Reply Reply

    Seconding (thirding?) the twin-specific advice. I recently weaned my 14 month old twins, and I pretty much never fed them at the same time. When they were newborns, they were just too floppy and needed more support than I could give with one hand. When they were older, they were really fast eaters and I liked the bit of one-on-one time with each boy. I pumped in the beginning to make sure I would have a good supply (and so dad could give a bottle now and then), but have never had a ton of luck with anything less than a hospital grade pump. Wishing I had known about the EZ2Nurse pillow!

    Also, don’t be too surprised if the hospital requires you to give some formula in the beginning. My boys had a little trouble keeping their blood sugar up and my milk was not in yet, so the nurses had me give a little formula after each feeding. I continued that until my milk came in a few days later. I haven’t researched that issue at all, but I was told it is common for twins to struggle with blood sugar issues in the beginning because they are typically a bit smaller than singletons.

    Ask to see the LC before you leave the hospital, even if things are going great. I had one boy that wasn’t latching quite right and she was able to help me get that sorted out before leaving the hospital (the twins weren’t my first children, so I knew something was a little off, but still needed help to fix it).

    Have fun with your twins!

  12. Karen Jun 25 at 12:49 pm Reply Reply

    La Leche League. The leaders there are so AWESOME! In my group, one of the leaders is helping a mom with inducing lactation for a adopted son. I didn’t start attending meetings until my daughter was 6 months, I wish I had started before she was born.

  13. albe Jun 25 at 12:58 pm Reply Reply

    I nursed my twins with the help of pumping. For the first 6 months of their lives especially, I pumped 6 times a day in addition to nursing. This was in an attempt to make enough milk for both, which I was never able to do exclusively (my best was making enough milk for about 1.5 babies). I agree with the advice to rent a hospital-grade pump and see how it goes. If pumping works for you, then go ahead and buy the best pump you can.

    A hands-free pumping bra really saved my life and was totally worth the investment. I would pump 20-30 minutes for 6 times a day, so that was a LOT of time and you want to be able to have some freedom while pumping. With the hands-free bra I could read blogs, check email, read a book, etc.

    The Mothering Multiples book had some helpful information but read it with a grain of salt if you are a working mother. I often felt like the book should have been called “Stay At Home Mothering Multiples” because a lot of the things she emphasized aren’t always feasible if you have to go back to work.

    Twins groups and LLL were very helpful. It was a LLL consultant who recommended Domperidone, which ended up helping a lot with my supply problems.

    I used the nursing pillow “my brest friend” — silly name, awesome pillow for twins. Rarely tandem nursed because we just couldn’t get the hang of it.

    I think it is smart to keep an open mind and be accepting of whatever might happen, which it sounds like you are. I went into it thinking of COURSE I would breastfeed both babies exclusively well into their toddlerhood. As a result it was really hard on me when I couldn’t make enough milk, when my babies preferred bottles of pumped milk to nursing, and when my babies started trying to self wean at an age I felt was much too young. Some women do just fine nursing twins, and some struggle, and you might fall anywhere in between.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that the time commitment that comes with pumping does have a sacrifice in terms of time with your babies. I would nurse one while my husband fed the other, and then pump after the feeding session. This meant that I missed out on so many opportunities to just be with my babies and hold them during that awake time, because I was always, always pumping. Now I look back and think I probably would have done it differently. I’m glad I was able to give them breastmilk, but I do regret the bonding time that was lost. So…nothing is black and white, I guess I’m saying.

  14. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers; it is possible! It requires commitment and at first, it is very time consuming, but it can and has been done since the dawn of time. My only advice would be: don’t pump until your supply is well-established and the babies know what they’re doing. I made this mistake with mine and was only able to breastfeed for 3 months due to low supply- oh, and the fact that we were in the middle of a huge move. Pumping- no matter how good your pump is- cannot empty your breasts as well as a baby and your supply will slowly but surely diminish. Once everyone gets going, it is a lot cheaper and easier than formula feeding. Line up help for your household now for the weeks after you give birth so you con just concentrate on making everything work. Twins are hard work, but the rewards more than compensate. I cannot explain the feeling you get when you see them cuddle and sleep next to each other and later, play and make each other laugh… and there is nothing better for the soul than a house filled with the laughter of babies.

  15. Alisha Jun 25 at 2:43 pm Reply Reply

    Doesn’t the new healthcare bill include a provision requiring employers to provide a private, designated space with a sink, table, and electrical outlet for lactating mothers?

  16. Angela Jun 26 at 8:50 am Reply Reply

    Good advice so far. I am still working through this issue as I just had my twin girls in May. I just wrote out all my thoughts on it and realized I had a whole blogpost on it. So check that out if you want the whole story!

    Basically though, after all we’ve been through my babies are formula fed and supplemented with breast-milk. It’s a long story, but this is practical and healthy for the girls and I both.

  17. Jo Jun 26 at 9:55 am Reply Reply

    I was able to exclusively breast feed my twins until they were 20 months old (no formula). I would highly recommend the e-z-2-nurse twin pillow, it made it a lot easier. I also pumped with a good quality medela pump (about $300) and it was great for getting some extra milk so that I could go out by myself and leave dad or babysitter to feed the babies, though when I had the choice I would always rather breast feed than pump…easier. As far as how easy or painful etc breastfeeding will be for you, it is hard to say, but I would look to the other women in you family and their experiences. I fortunately had zero problems and I made enough milk that I could have fed quadruplets…and my mom and sister were both the same way. Don’t be afraid to bug the lactation specialist in the hospital, I kept calling her until I felt confident that both the baby and I had it right, it can make all the difference.

  18. Jen W Jun 26 at 11:46 am Reply Reply

    Ahh, Breastfeeding. By far the only thing about raising twins that has moved me to tears (several times) and caused any frustration or heartache. I had hoped to breastfeed exclusively, but have never been able to do so. My boys are 8 months next week and have had supplemental formula since they were a week old. I wonder if giving them formula from the start like that sabotaged my efforts, or if it was the bad latch one still has, or if it was the induced labor (water broke, no contractions.) or if it was the c-section after 15 hours of labor, or if it was the IV fluids for 2 days after or if it was… 
    Somehow I have stuck with it, though now that I went back to work a month ago, my supply is dwindling and I think the breast milk portion of their diet will be coming to an end soon.

    Things that worked for me: 1. My husband is awesome and super supportive and I would not have stuck with it without his undying support. 2. The EZ-2-nurse pillow was essential in the first 3-4 months of tandem nursing, it was about $65 and I didn’t know about it until about 2 weeks into nursing, I wish I had known sooner. Eventually they got too big and wiggly and I have had to just nurse them separately since about 5 months. The first month or so I needed someone to hand them to me, since they were so bobble-headed. Eventually I was able to get them on the pillow alone. 3. A great lactation consultant. We still go see ours every week for a weigh-in and meet with other BF-ing moms. 

    Things I would have done differently:
    1. Pump more. I was exhausted, recovering from major surgery, etc. etc. etc. and it was easy to feed them and try to sleep. I coulda woulda shoulda established a better supply by pumping more in those early days. 2. Rented the hospital-grade pump from the start. I wasn’t sure I would stick with it, so I borrowed an old Pump in Style that was uncomfortable and I hated it. So when I did pump it hurt and it was awful. By the time I did rent one, the babies were 3 months old and though the pump was much more pleasant and comfortable, I think I missed my window of effectiveness. 3. Gone with my gut and realized my boys were just small, they were totally fine and if we just kept at it, maybe we could have done it without the formula. I just kept thinking I would supplement them until the next weigh-in and if they gained we would drop the formula. Now, almost 8 months later, it has been a losing battle and they still get their formula.

    Going back to work has really killed it for me, the pumping, only nursing them 1 time a day most of the time, and pumping 5-6 times to get enough to give them each 1 bottle of breast milk. I went back to work when they were almost 7 months.

    I am glad I did it and I am immensely proud of how long I have been able to give them at least a little breast milk, but breast feeding is the one thing in this mommy thing that has not been how I wanted, and has been a huge challenge and disappointment. At one of my breastfeeding mom groups, a lady saw my twins in cloth diapers and commented on how brave I was since “it must be so much work to cloth diaper twins!” and I sort of laughed. Cloth diapers are NOTHING. Taking 2 babies to Target, a breeze.  Multi-tasking day and night, no problem.  Breastfeeding twins has been hard work. But from her point of view with her one baby, breastfeeding was effortless.

    This is not to discourage you, but to let you know that it might work, it might not, but partial breastfeeding is still good for the babies. Mine made it all the way through cold and flu season unscathed. It might be amazing and easy for you, it might be hard or exhausting. But you have to do what is right for your family and your babies and yourself. Just be proud of whatever you are able to do (this is something I have struggled with) and know you did your best. 

    Good luck, twins are amazing, I can’t even imagine my life without them, or with just one baby. They are so much fun.

    -Jen

  19. Julie w Jun 26 at 9:46 pm Reply Reply

    As someone who had fairly good luck with breastfeeding twins, I think you have a great attitude. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to supply the babies solely with breast milk. If it works that way…great! But if at 4 months (or day one, or whenever) you just can’t keep up with demand, it’s okay to supplement. There is never any shame in supplementing.

    I manage to nurse them exclusively for the first 6 months. My big secret: my lactation consultant made sure my husband knew his job had to be all about keeping me fed and rested.

    Rest up while you can! It’s going to be quite the ride!

  20. natalieushka Jun 27 at 12:32 am Reply Reply

    You can do it!!! Enjoy your babies, and enjoy breastfeeding, even if it’s not exclusive. Nursing has been the most satisfying part of motherhood for me.

    Good luck!

  21. Nancy Jun 27 at 9:57 pm Reply Reply

    Ah, finally a post on which I have some authority to comment! My twin girls turn 3 next month. They were born a day short of 38 weeks, spent no time in the NICU and came home with me on day 3 after my semi-emergency c-section. Neither was a particularly good latcher right off the bat, and despite lactation coaching while in the hospital, a BFing class while pregnant and some reading, it took us awhile to get the hang of things. We went to visit the lactation nurses at the hospital maybe 5-6 (10?) times in the early weeks after getting home — they were wonderful, helpful, supportive cheerleaders. They helped me find a balance behind what I “wanted” and what I needed. The helped me practice various nursing positions, got me a foot stool to help better put us all in position.

    It took us a couple of weeks to start getting the hang of it, but we did. I tandem nursed my girls for seven months until they weaned themselves. I never had a great supply, and I went through bottles of fenugreek and leased a super-strong pump from the hospital. I gave it my all, for as long as I could. I nursed them exclusively for about 3 weeks after we finally got the hang of things (so maybe from week 3 to week 6 of life) — only to go back for another visit and learn the girls were losing weight, so I immediately started supplementing with formula. This worked for us — lots of moms don’t need to though.

    The one thing I encourage you to stay aware of is what YOU need, on a daily basis. It’s one thing to want to nurse your babies, one thing to want to let your husband sleep through the night so he can get up for work the next day, etc. But it’s another to make sure you GET SLEEP, and keep nourished. Every nursing mom needs FOOD and WATER, and lots of them. (I was overweight to begin with, gained 30 pounds during my very healthy twin pregnancy, and lost 40 pounds in the first six weeks after their birth) Nursing really takes it out of you, so you MUST eat and you MUST drink and you MUST sleep. Those are all non-negotiable. Ask your husband, parents and close friends to help you get that done in those early days and weeks so you can focus as much time and energy on your babies, and nursing. I swear, you’ll forget, you’ll think you’re fine, or you will just space it, and your supply will dip if you don’t keep yourself in tip top shape, nutritionally and sleepwise.

    Ask DH to get up with you in the middle of the night, if only to change diapers and get the babies cuddled up to you for nursing. I took 6 months off from work, and felt pretty guilty that he was getting up to help me and also going to work. But really, looking back, we BOTH loved those quiet middle-of-the-night moments. We were so bleary, but we did it TOGETHER, and those quiet moments, watching and learning about our little babies were so special! I had them all to myself during the day — but I really appreciated the help at night!!

    Get as much help as you can in the early weeks — mom, mom-in-law, sisters, friends — accept every offer you get! Let them have baby cuddle time, but allow them to work too — do the laundry, clean, wash and fold the million little outfits you’ll receive (because people go NUTS for babies, and especially twins!) They want to help, and trust me, you need to forget about the house and focus on yourself and the babies.

    Not sure if it’s like this for all first-time moms, or first-time moms with twins, or I was an anomaly (I don’t think it was the latter) — but you’ll be in a fog those early weeks and months until you find your groove. When I look at all the pictures I took back then, there were lots in week 1 — and then nothing until week 6. Weeks 2-6 were truly survival-mode for all of us. If I wasn’t nursing a baby or pumping, I was sleeping. I ate my meals holding a plate over their heads while they ate, or napped in my lap.

    And pumping? It sucked. I stuck to it, pumping after every single nursing session, even pumping when I went back to work. I never much liked it, but I did my best. I sure didn’t mind when I finally decided to stop, awhile after the girls stopped nursing. But again, I know twin moms who nurse and pump well into the 2nd year — so go for it as long as it’s YOUR goal and not something you feel obligated to do because “someone” said you should. Find your own balance.

    A few suggestions in terms of “props” — comfy nursing bras (you may need to buy them after you’ve been home a few weeks and your supply is well established), sleeping bras, PJs or nighties that easily unbutton down the front, a comfy chair with padded arms that has room for you, plus space to tuck the babies in with you, a small footstool (not an ottoman) to help elevate your feet and lap, and a twin nursing pillow (I loved the Double Blessings EZ-2-Nurse foam pillow).

    If you opt to supplement at any point, bring everything you need upstairs with you at night so you can make bottles right in their room (or yours, wherever you’re feeding). I kept a bowl there – DH would fill it with warm water and we’d warm up bottles in the bowl while we changed diapers and cuddled. You can even premake the formula and keep pre-measured bottles in a cooler bag with ice packs. Just do whatever you can to not have to go stumbling around the house in the middle of the night!

    If you’re pumping, get 3-4 sets of EVERYTHING so you don’t have to wash everything right after use. Again, washing is something you can either do in the morning or have someone else help you with. I’d give everything a quick rinse in the bathroom sink, then let it sit to get washed the next day. It’s another thing to get you back in your own bed sooner, because that next feeding will arrive before you know it.

    And last but not least, do find and join your local twins club. I went to several meetings before the girls were born, and there were plenty of helpful moms who’ve BTDT who can offer support and advice.

    Good luck – you’re going to love it!! :-)

    Oh, and a final piece of twin-mom knowledge…. if you haven’t yet, go get and read “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads, Revised Edition: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy by Barbara Luke and Tamara Eberlein. If you haven’t yet, start eating healthfully and A LOT right now — you need to gain weight and eat lots of protein to support those growing babies!

  22. Amy Jun 28 at 3:33 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t read through all the posts, so I’m sorry if I’m just repeating. Anyway, my twins will be 4 in December. They were born at 33wks 6days, so they were in the NICU for a little while (twin A, 1 day short of 3 wks and twin B, 1 day short of 2 wks). They were in there b/c they didn’t have their sucking reflex (no weight issues and no breathing issues), so they had feeding tubes. I pumped….a lot (every 2 hours). They had to be completely on bottle feedings before they could come home. And they came home and went right to strictly breastfeeding with no problems. And I continued to nurse them until they were 14mos. No formula at all (well, before my milk came in they had to get a little formula in the NICU). And I did have to return to work when they were 8wks and I pumped (my office has since closed, but they had a room w/a small fridge and a lock). So basically, it is possible!
    I did have a small “advantage”, my twins were not my first. They were actually my 3rd and 4th, so I had already successfully nursed 2 babies. But, you have the right attitude! Too many moms new to breastfeeding are too nervous about it. Worried the baby’s not getting enough, worried they won’t get enough sleep, or having spouses/significant others/family members constantly saying the baby’s not getting enough. The key is to just relax. I always approached it with the thought that it’s the one thing only I can do for the baby/babies. And, until they start eating solids, they are growing b/c of me! That, to me, is absolutely amazing! And, it gave me an excuse to have to sit down and not be able to do anything while the baby/babies ate (sorry honey, I can’t clean up right now ;) Anyway, best of luck to you!!!! Get some support (lactation specialist or friends who have successfully nursed), and block out the negative comments from people/friends who had difficulty.

  23. Debbie Jun 28 at 9:00 pm Reply Reply

    I nursed both my sets of twins. What helped:
    Supportive husband
    EZ2Nurse pillow
    Supportive ped
    Helpful hospital nurses
    Full-term babies
    Babies who latched well
    Uncomplicated c-section
    Reading about nursing in advance
    Asking for advice from others

    Notice some of this was luck–I cant take credit for full-term babies or good nurses. Join a twin club and keep an open mind–ask for help and try different things (tandem nursing, pumping, etc.) until you get your rhythm.

  24. Nerwal Jun 28 at 10:31 pm Reply Reply

    I have three month old twins and only have a couple things to add and second; get a hands free nursing bra – they are the best. Make your husband/partner be a partner in what you do; I almost exclusively pump and DH helps a lot – getting me things while I pump, helping do bottle/pump part cleaning, getting bottles ready, and putting away and storing the milk.
    My pediatrician told us at our first couple of appointments that my job was to make milk. Don’t worry about other things and keep rested, fed and hydrated; making food for two babies to survive on is a lot of work.

  25. BADL Jun 28 at 11:23 pm Reply Reply

    I am a mother of twins and just want to say if you are not able to breastfeed, it will not make you a failure at all. I only bottle fed and at 13 months, my twins are happy and healthy and hitting milestones before other babies their age. My son started walking at 10 months and my twins were a month early. As long as the babies are being fed, that is what counts. Also, as for weight loss, I lost all my weight, over 55 lbs and am back in a size 4. You don’t have to breastfeed to get your body back.

  26. Kate-BreastfeedingBFF Jun 29 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    Kudos to you on so many fronts – for thinking through every step of this ahead of time, for looking for resources and information, for being realistic about the process and for just wanting to breastfeed your twins, period. Your kids are lucky to have such a well-prepared mama!
    I have a singleton so I can’t offer much in the way of twins-specific nursing advice (the ladies above have given some great specific info!), but if you need any help in terms of pumping at work, I have a page on this that I hope will help: http://www.breastfeeding-bff.com/working-mothers.html  I pumped every day at work (and at home to build/maintain my supply) until my daughter was 15 months old – none of my working mom friends pumped at work, so this is all the “why didn’t someone tell me that” info that I needed, especially starting out.
    Good luck!! You will do great!

  27. Caroline May 04 at 12:32 pm Reply Reply

    Hi! I am a breastfeeding mother of three month old twins. My situation is not quite the same because I am lucky to have a four month maternity leave and when I do go back to work, it’s only three hours a day (outside the home). But I just want to say that I think you’re making it harder than it is, maybe even setting yourself up for failure. Breastfeeding my twins is not really harder than breastfeeding one. I do it tandem, except at night so I can lay down and sleep while one nurses. Don’t worry about supply!!! Or if you are worried, drink alfalfa tea. I think all the literature and advice makes women think it’s really hard, and actually it’s something that we’ve been doing for thousands of years without any help. Just do it! Also remember that they don’t need any more than drops for the first few days. By then the double sucking is really going to get your flow going. I will say that it was more painful because my nipples didn’t get any recovery time for the first few weeks. But it’s easy now. As far as taxing and time consuming go, it gives me a chance to sit down and read or play on the Internet! It can be taxing if they’re both fussing at the nipple, but if they get too out of line I just set them back down, walk away, and come back in ten minutes or so. You’ll do great!

  28. Caroline May 04 at 12:44 pm Reply Reply

    I should have mentioned that I love my Brestfriend twin nursing pillow. And that it was hard in the beginning until I got positioning figured out. If I’m sitting up in bed, I put two pillows under my knees. If I’m in a chair, I have a footstool. I also set up a nursing station so that everything is within reach: water (a big jug, drink drink drink!), reading, burp cloths. I also was lucky that my mom came to stay with me, and I made it clear to my husband that I wouldn’t be leaving the bedroom for the first week! Ha ha! I think the relaxation and sleep helped my supply come in strong. My husband brought my meals to me and I ate while I nursed! You will have to eat a lot! Make sure you’re eating a lot of fat too, like avocados and bacon and chicken thighs!

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