Twins & Breastfeeding Goals: What’s Realistic?
I 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.
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.