We are celebrating World breastfeeding week (1st-8th Aug 2013) We asked three Frugi mums to tell us about their personal experience when breastfeeding twins!
Helen; mum to twins Jack and Jessie
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed any baby I had ideally, but when I found out I was pregnant with twins I wasn’t entirely sure whether it would be possible – but decided to try, and bought a packet of formula as back up just in case! My best and most useful purchase for feeding the twins was a massive twin specific breastfeeding pillow, it wasn’t cheap – but I managed to sell it on for a good amount and it saved me goodness knows how much money in formula!
I was lucky in that my twins weren’t born prematurely – they were both over 6lb at 39 weeks when born and so there was no intensive care or anything needed to complicate things (I was the poorly one, totally out of it for a couple of days with pre-eclampsia) Other than one night in the hospital when the midwives kindly took the twins so I could get an unbroken night’s sleep where they gave them formula out of a cup, I managed to breastfeed easily and well, not having to supplement with formula at all and I did so for 17 months (now wish I had gone on longer!) Other than mastitis once which was caught quickly I had no real feeding issues for which I know I am very lucky and I owe a great deal to my husband, mum and mother in law who were around to help out a great deal in the early days and would pass me babies to latch on, I think if I hadn’t had any help I would have found it much trickier.
The twins were good feeders and I loved the bond I got with them from breastfeeding. It was the one time, especially as they got older I could cuddle both in my arms at once with no wriggling! When at home I could prop them rugby ball style hold on the pillow and feed them both at once, out and about I would breastfeed one at a time but for the first few months I just made sure I fed them before I went anywhere and didn’t stay more than a few hours if possible so there wasn’t too much hassle with feeding one baby whilst other was screaming for a feed! I remember travelling up to watch Arsenal once, perhaps 6 months after they were born, the first time I had been so far away from them and worrying that my daughter would not take the expressed milk in a bottle I had left and that they would starve to death without me in the 4 or 5 hours I was gone… Typical new mum neurosis I guess!
I LOVED my breastfeeding experience far more than I expected too, I felt a real pang giving it up, it was a special time and I hope anyone out there expecting with twins wondering if they can feed them will realise it’s possible and give it a real go!
I have a tendency to do things the most difficult way, so when my twins were born I was delighted to find that breastfeeding came easily and naturally to all three of us. However I soon realised they were no more Gina Ford babies than I was Gina Ford, and so we gave up on ‘routine’ and plumped for feed on demand. Unfortunately more often than not, demand from my son was out of synch with demand from my daughter, and so in those first couple of months, I had more than enough awake-all-nighters to last a lifetime!
When demand did coincide, mostly in the day, we found that armed with the right pillows/cushions, and on the sofa, it was really quite easy for me to feed both together (though not recommended as a spectator sport!). We fed exclusively for nearly 6 months and continued on to over a year.
When baby number three came along, nearly three years later I felt such a pro that I barely gave feeding a thought – there wasn’t a bottle or tin of formula in the house. It was quite a shock to discover that not all babies are alike, after two easy feeders, and much to my shock, baby and I really did struggle for several weeks. She lost weight, I cried, I cried more when she wouldn’t feed and struggled to get her to latch on. It was really genuinely only through the dedicated and superb support of my community midwives that we finally worked it out between us, my terribly painful breasts subsided (I think they were still producing for two babies!) and it all settled down. We went on to feed for over a year once more.
My words of advice? All mums are different (I’m still not Gina Ford and secretly envy those who are) and so are all babies! Each mum and baby has to find their own way, and sometimes you have to throw away the guidebook, get a bit of support and find your way with your baby.
My twins just made it to 35 weeks, when twin 1 had a placental abruption and had to have an emergency section. I had lost a lot of blood and was on high dependency for the first 24 hours, whilst they were whisked off to special care where they spent their first 2 weeks.
Colostrum was initially hand expressed which was then fed to my little ones by syringe, and whilst I was too poorly to visit them they came to see me in their incubators and we had skin to skin and kangaroo care. The SCBU nurses in particular were fantastic in terms of helping getting feeding started and cup feeding expressed milk was used at first until they could latch properly. By 5/6 days I was tandem feeding. The early weeks were tough, especially once I was discharged after 5 days as it meant a rigorous routine of expressing during the hours I was not with them.
I did have supply issues, and they lost more than the ‘permitted’ weight so we did have to supplement despite lots of oats and fenugreek. Ultimately, I only managed around 9 weeks and so wish I had been able to manage longer…but also know the vital importance of the start I gave them.