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February 13, 2018
At first it was difficult. I worked with the lactation department at the hospital to make sure each baby was latching properly. They got me using nipple shields to help the babies latch and to stimulate the roof of their mouth so they’d keep eating. (Added bonus: I’m convinced all of the lactation department used to be cheerleaders in their formal lives. It’s impossible to not be uplifted when their cheery personalities are in the room). A lot of the initial issues were resolved through working with the hospital staff. They helped me wake the boys up when they fell asleep too soon while nursing and keep them interested in eating. They’re knowledge and experience was vital to my early and continuing success.
Besides the previously mentioned supply issues, most challenges come from some of the logistics. For example, in the NICU, the twins were hooked up to machines with all these wires and were on two opposites sides of a conjoined room. I had to have a nurse bring the boys to me and had to be very careful of all the wires.
Also, there is really no way to keep yourself covered when breastfeeding twins. Because of that, I have to specifically plan my outings. I might breastfeed right before we leave the house, or top them off, or bring bottles and my pump and pump in the car, or take the nursing pillow if I’d be somewhere I felt comfortable using it. I’ve gotten a lot less picky about who can be in the room when I nurse because otherwise I’d have to find a separate room, often leaving whatever activity is going on.
As they get bigger, it’s harder to use the pillow because they’re growing and wigglier. Because I can only keep one hand on each baby and they like to squirm, I nurse by sitting on the floor, so there’s no risk of them falling too far if they squirm off the pillow. This works great until I’m someplace like the doctor’s office and don’t want to sit on that floor. I’ve started sitting on the exam table, and the nurse will hand me the boys.
I highly recommend using some kind of twin nursing pillow. It saves so much time to tandem feed, and it isn’t as hard as you’d think. Have the hospital staff help you. They automatically had me do double football hold, and we are still using that now. Nipple shields can be helpful for preemie babies. The lactation department gave me those. They have all kinds of great stuff! The also gave me Pumpin Pals breast flanges and a silicone suction pump to catch excess milk. They also had us have the twins switch sides every other feed so they didn’t develop a preference to one side or another. (PS: an app can be super helpful for keeping track of when they ate, for how long, on what side. It also can help you log medicine, diapers, and much more. I use BabyConnect and love it. It’s one of the only apps I’ve ever paid for, but it was so worth it!!)
My husband and I worked out a system for the night feeds. He’s amazing and has gotten up for every feed. He’d get one of the boys changed, bring him to me, and I’d get him started. Then he’d change the other one and bring me that one. That saves a lot of time.
Keep them on the same feeding schedule, or all you will be doing is feeding one baby or the other. Sometimes that involves waking up one of them if the other is screaming for food. Do it anyway. You will thank me later, trust me. Yes, it seems counterintuitive to wake a sleeping baby, but believe me, your life will be chaotic enough as it is. Save time where you can.
Speaking of that… ask for help!! I know every twin resource out there says this, but it is so true! Ask everyone: the hospital staff, lactation consultants, the person about to shut the door as you lug around your twin stroller, your family, your friends, your husband. Twins are amazing, really they are, but they are so much work. Have people help with diaper changes and bring the babies to you to nurse in those early weeks until you get the hang of it. Have people bring meals and food gift cards. Prep frozen meals before the twins are born. Anything you can do now to save time after they’re born will be very beneficial later. We have changing areas set up in a couple locations, so we can easily reach the necessities.
Breastfeeding twins is very difficult. I know that sounds harsh, but I want to be honest. The logistics are challenging, the supply can be an issue, there are all kinds of issues if they’re premature, it’s a lot to clean when you pump, you’ll be exhausted and physically drained, but do it anyway. There is so much I’ve had to sacrifice for my boys (don’t worry, I’m keeping a list to hold against them when they’re teenagers ☺). But please hear me…. Do it anyways.
There will be nights when you’re exhausted and you don’t think you can possibly drag your body over to feed them, do it anyways. There will be days where you’re ill and don’t want to even stand up, do it anyways. There will be times you’re with a group of friends and you have to find someplace private to nurse or leave early, do it anyways. There will be times when the twins aren’t cooperating and you’ll all be crying together, do it anyways. And believe me, there will come a time when you’ll contemplate just being done for good because it just doesn’t feel worth it.
Please, in that moment remember how strong you are. You and your body grew two babies for nine (or slightly less) months. You birthed those babies. You’ve changed countless diapers. You’ve given up sleep, sanity, and a social life. You’re incredible. You know how many people would say they can’t do what you’re doing? You’re a twin mom. We know that this is our crazy, beautiful life. We love our babies and would do anything for them. So, in that moment where you feel like screaming and crying (and maybe you actually are) and you’re just ready to give up, take a deep breath in, let it out, and remember how much you’ve done so far. Persevere. You’ve got this, twin mom!