Today as I was catching up on my blog reading I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Heather. Heather gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last Friday and posted this morning on frustrations she is having with nursing her baby. As I read this I thought about a guest post I did awhile back about my experience nursing LB and Daisy. Here is the post I wrote…Heather, I hope it helps
From the moment my husband and I began thinking about having a baby I knew I wanted that baby to have every opportunity to be as healthy as possible. I wanted to do everything right. The number one thing I was determined to do was breastfeed my baby. I had done a lot of reading about the benefits of breastfeeding and knew that this was best for my baby.
In July of 2009 I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I went for our first doctor visit and they offered to do a vaginal ultrasound to see how far along I was. During the ultrasound they determined I was only about 6 weeks pregnant but they also saw that I had two gestational sacs! Neither sac had a heartbeat but it was still too early for that. The Nurse Practitioner told us this was the best case scenario to have twins. To be honest, I was scared to death. Not only did this change everything I had imagined about being pregnant and having a baby, this also changed how I was going to be able to feed my babies.
From the beginning I knew it was going to be difficult to have two babies and difficult to feed two babies. Whether it was breastfeeding or formula there would be ups and downs. I decided I was going to make the best of the situation. I was super excited about having twins and I knew my husband and I were dedicated to do the best we could for our twins.
I am by no means a breastfeeding expert. I did the best I could for two babies with what I had. I was not blessed with an abundance of milk nor was I able to accomplish all of my original goals but I was able to give over four months of breast milk to my twins which will forever benefit them.
To prepare myself and my husband for the adventure of breastfeeding twins I did a few things:
· First I read everything on the internet I could find about breastfeeding twins.
· My husband and I took two breastfeeding classes. One class was offered through the hospital and the second was offered at the pediatrician’s office.
· I kept in close contact with our lactation consultant during pregnancy and especially post pregnancy.
· After attending the two breastfeeding classes I read the American Academy of Pediatrics book about Breastfeeding.
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For anyone pregnant and preparing to breastfeed I would highly suggest doing these four things. The best thing we did was connect with both the lactation consultant from the hospital and the pediatrician’s office before our babies were born.
After getting educated my husband and I both set goals. My husband’s goal was for me to breastfeed for one year. My goal was to breastfeed as long as possible. My husband was my number one supporter. Without him I never would have made it. If you are a single parent I would suggest enlisting someone to step in and be your breastfeeding supporter because I am strong believer that this is much easier if you are not alone. I knew there was a good chance I would not make it a year but if I could that would be wonderful. Having my husband’s support made things much easier.
These are the things I did before hand in a nutshell. Now here is how it really went:
On February 26, 2010 my twins were born. My son (LB) weighed 5 pounds 3 ounces with no health issues. My daughter (Daisy) weighed 5 pounds 2 ounces with no health issues. I was so excited when they brought them to me in the operating room after my c-section so I could see them. The fact that they did not have to go to the NICU was wonderful and I was one step closer to my goal of breast feeding within the first hour.
Do you think they were ready? This photo was taken right before they were brought to me
Both of my babies latched on as soon as they laid on to me. Tip: Do not get frustrated if they do not latch on. Babies are sleepy and might just want to snuggle. The key is skin to skin contact. They have plenty of time to practice latching.
Here we are the afternoon after they were born.
My first moment of frustration came when the nurses told me we were going to have to start giving our babies formula. This was not my plan. I had a plan to breastfeed exclusively. I had read it was possible and I was going to make it work. Tip: Just because you make a plan does not mean it will be executed perfectly. Sometimes changes must be made in order to do what is best for your baby.
My second moment of frustration was when the lactation consultant told me that I would probably never be able to exclusively breastfeed my babies. My milk was taking a while to come in and when it did I was not making enough to adequately feed one baby, let alone two. Tip: When you feel like giving up, don’t. At this point I thought “Why should I even try?” If I can’t breastfeed them both I should just quit trying. However, I kept trying and I am forever grateful that I did.
While in the hospital we began a 3 hour feeding routine. I would nurse one baby on one breast. I would then give the first baby to my husband to feed the formula. I would then nurse the next baby and then offer the second baby formula. After both babies were fed I would pump for 20-30 minutes. We followed this schedule while in the hospital and waited and waited for my milk to come in. Tip: it may take a while but your milk will come in. Just keep pumping and feeding!
Then, we left the hospital…
My at home experience with breastfeeding was different than the majority of breastfeeding moms. For the first two months I breastfed each baby, then bottle fed each baby and then pumped breast milk every three hours. After two months it was safe to say my milk had come in but my babies were not able to get enough milk out. They would fall asleep or get too frustrated and just cry until they could have a bottle. Each baby was still getting the majority of their calories from the formula. So, we decided to change up the routine. I would start alternating between breastfeeding and bottle feeding each baby. (At one feeding one baby would breastfeed from both breasts and the other only formula and then switch at the next feeding.) This led to more frustration for me and more frustration for my babies. The baby that would breastfeed was not getting enough milk and would be hungry within the next hour. This led to an awful cycle of continuous feeding and frustration.
This all led to my next adventure in breastfeeding my twins, exclusive pumping. One day my husband asked me when was the last time I breastfed the babies and I could not remember. I had totally replaced their feedings with pumping without really even realizing it. This worked very well for us (I was pumping with a hospital grade pump) for about 6 weeks. I pumped every 2-3 hours and we alternated which baby would receive the breast milk and which would receive the formula. After about the fifth week my milk supply started to dwindle and it was becoming harder for me to be able to find time to pump.
Then the day I knew would come had arrived…we went out of town and I forgot the pump! This led to my next and final adventure with breastfeeding my twins. After six weeks of no latching on and breastfeeding I offered my breast to both babies and they latched on and fed! It was a truly amazing experience. At that moment there was no frustration, they knew what to do and we were all comfortable. I cherish that moment so much. Tip: Breastfeeding is not only good for the baby, it is good for mommy as well! LB and Daisy continued to breastfeed for 4-6 more weeks and I enjoyed every minute of it. I got rid of the pump and relied on them to completely empty each breast. It was amazing. I felt like I was able to have a connection with my babies that I had given up on. After about 6 weeks I literally ran out of milk. Both babies were becoming very frustrated with me because they were not receiving any milk from me. They were both unhappy when it would come feeding time and I did not like the feeling that gave me or them. After discussing my options with my lactation consultant I decided to stop breastfeeding. This was a tough decision but ultimately it was my only option. Tip: If the time comes and you have to stop breastfeeding do not think yourself as a failure, think of yourself as a conqueror because you have done something amazing for your child.
I tell you my story to say this, things do not always go the way we plan, things do not turn out perfect, we have to be flexible and we have to do things we do not like. If your plan is does not come out perfect it is okay because you are an amazing mom and you will know what to do!
I would love to hear your breastfeeding story or answer any questions you have about breastfeeding or exclusive pumping. Leave a comment or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org