Monday, December 20, 2010

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Can You Really Keep Up? BreastFeeding Twins Part 1

Can you really keep up?
How many times was I asked this question I cannot say but the answer was always a resounding, YES! Can you really breastfeed twins? Yes, you absolutely can and yes, you can do it for the recommended 12 months. I did. I also have a close friend who is still nursing her twins at 13 months old.

Breastfeeding twins can certainly be time consuming and tricky at moments. Here is how my year of tandem breastfeeding went.

Month #1
The first month was probably the most challenging for me. I am not new to nursing as I had already nursed my 3 older children but, I was new to tandem nursing and nursing preemie babies. My twins were born at 36 weeks and 2 days. The first feedings went great. My littlest baby, Ellie latched on and ate great. Eli nursed well too. It was 7 hours later that things got crazy. Ellie developed severe hypoglycemia and her blood sugar levels were at 17. At this point she was hooked up to I.V.s to give her extra glucose. By the time she was two days old she had been transferred to the NICU just over an hour drive away where she stayed for 22 more days. Eli was nursing well but loosing too much weight. It turned out that he wasn’t strong enough to suck hard enough, long enough to get enough milk. My first month consisted of nursing Eli then pumping for Ellie. Driving back and forth from the NICU at least every other day. Which I wasn’t allowed to bring Eli with because of the “swine flu” outbreak that occurred last year. I was also pumping and giving Eli a bottle every other feeding for a couple weeks to ensure he was getting enough milk to gain weight. It was a tough month but knowing my tiniest babies needed their momma’s milk the most kept me going.

Month #2
Ellie came home from the NICU the week before they were 1 month old. I continued to nurse Eli and pump for Ellie. During this time I was trying to get Ellie back to the breast. It was a difficult challenge because I had to ensure she was getting enough milk so her blood sugar wouldn’t drop. I was on edge pleading with her to drink just one ounce at almost every feeding. Towards the end of the month she started to take to the breast more and more. I would have nursing sessions where she was satisfied for 2 hours or more in between feedings, which was declared a success! I had to use a nipple shield for most feedings but she was starting to nurse! I was starting to loath my breast pump. I was having to pump in the middle of the night too after each feeding to ensure I maintained my milk supply. It is essential to pump every time baby eats in order to maintain a good supply. Eli during this time loved to eat and very quickly was two pounds heavier than his sister. He is still two pounds heavier at 12.5 Months old.
At 2.5 months old I also switched my twins into cloth diapers as Eli was about 8 lbs finally and my One Size diapers finally fit!

Month #3
This was a big month as I weaned Ellie on to just the breast at 2.5 months of age. I finally got so tired of my pump I told Ellie she was just going to have to learn. There were times when I feed her a couple times in 1-2 hours because she hadn’t eaten enough during the first feeding but in short order she figured it out and was nursing like a champ. I was even able to wean her off the breast shield!
I was only visiting my breast pump once or twice a day. Because I had been emptying my breast each time when I was pumping exclusively for her and nursing Eli I had developed a wonderful milk supply. I wanted to keep up with it a little bit so when growth spurts happened I wouldn’t be stuck on the couch for as many days telling my body to make more milk. I would usually pump once in the morning and right before bed. I had a great stash of milk in the freezer too! That is always reassuring for a nursing mom. 

By: Alyssa N.
29 year old SAHM to 5 children ages 7, 5,3, and 1 year old twins. 

16 comments:

Sugardrive said...

I have 7 week old twins and am BFing them. It has been a huge challenge, so I'm glad to see this! post! Congrats on your success, mama!

Lauren said...

Congratulations to you! I have a friend who nursed her twins until they self-weaned around 3 and a half so I was lucky to have her as a role model when I was having trouble nursing my daughter. My sweetpea is now almost a year old and we are "still" breastfeeding and plan to for as long as she wants to (though mama may slow it down if we hit 2 years :) )

Serena said...

Thank you for this. I am pregnant with twins and failed at BFing my oldest, so I am super nervous about trying to BF twins.

Dreaming Mama said...

I am so glad to see this post. I have always heard that bfing twins was possible, but I had never heard of anyone doing it exclusively. Thanks for sharing.

CourtneyBrooke said...

Good for you! This is important for all twin moms to know!!

I nursed my twins until they were 3 1/2. I think they would still be nursing if they had a choice but we were able to gently distract them.

The first 6 months were *really tough*, but I'm so glad I stuck it out!

mommyagain said...

You absolutely can! I nursed my twins for 18 months. They were born at 35 wks and I had a 2 yr old at home. The first few weeks were challenging. But once we were on the right track it was easy. I can't imagine if I'd had to deal with all those bottles and formula. Arrange for help at home and be committed to breastfeeding. Forget "I'll try it" say "I WILL BREASTFEED!"

summerific said...

Congratulations to you! I was hard-pressed to find any successful twin BFing stories when I first started nursing my twins 14 months ago. But here were are, still nursing am/pm and loving it! Thanks for sharing your story1

Jennifer said...

Sweet Lady, you are a champion! When my daughter (now 20 mos and growing like a weed) was born she was jaundiced, and I was actively discouraged from nursing her because I was told she wouldn't be able to get enough milk to flush the excess bilirubin from her system. I was pumping and giving her breast milk in a bottle as well as breast feeding at every feeding. But we did it! And the doctors quit bugging me about switching to formula. I'm so impressed by your fortitude. I can only imagine how exhausting and trying that must have been. Congratulations!

Cait said...

I too struggled with having to pump for and bottle feed one twin, then she moved on to the breast shield and by 6 weeks we were in cloth dipes and successfully nursing. My twin girls are now almost 4 months old and nursing and growing like champs!

Amy said...

What an amazing testimony to a mother's love for her children! I have only one boy -- but had my own challenges when he refused the breast for 4 weeks and I had to pump (he was born with a tongue tie and we had to have it clipped). After much perseverance, he switched to the breast! I have not pumped since -- that month was the hardest of my life and I can only imagine the experience with two little ones! God bless you. I posted my journey here: http://amyelizabethsmith.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/my-breastfeeding-journey/ Blessings to you!!!!

Elizabeth said...

I have a 3.5 yr old and 15 month old and bf both of them well past a year. I just found out I am expecting twins and I have been wondering how it will be to bf two babies!

Jenney said...

I needed to see this tonight. My 8 month old is gaining weight SO STINKING SLOWLY and just to get her to gain at all she has been nursing 6-8 times a day and getting previously pumped milk (I pumped 2-3 times a day for the first maybe 4 months, and at least one a month since) at least two times a day.
It is so discouraging to do all that and then have her not gain. I was about to just quit, but you have inspired me!

mummasinJH said...

Congrats! Nursing twins is no easy task (I know!) and your little ones will always thank you for the sacrifice you made.

Mom of FIVE said...

Thanks to all of you! Nursing twins was challenging for sure! There were times when I would comment, " I have been nursing the twins for 2 months now. Does it count as 4 months?" I was looking forward to quitting at 6 months for awhile but once I got there things had gotten easier. Sticking it out was the best choice I have made!

Hannah said...

Great advice for how to make it through those first tough months.

MistyS said...

I am so happy to hear someone else BFing their twins. I managed to BF until my twins were 15 months old. They self weaned at that time otherwise we could have gone longer. Thank you for the wonderful contribution and letting everyone know it is possible.