The honest truth about breastfeeding from a new twin mama

Here’s my top 10 advice to any new mamas out there who are getting frustrated with breastfeeding:

  1. I urge you to at least try and breast feed. If it doesn’t work, who cares!
  2. Even if one feeding per day is breast milk, that is good enough.
  3. If you haven’t yet BF in public, do it with another mom until you feel comfortable
  4. Invest in a cute BF cover.
  5. When pumping, don’t keep track of how much you pump. I would stare at the pump the entire time and be discouraged and upset when I only got 2 ounces. Once I stopped tracking it in my phone and staring down the whole time, my supply increased.
  6. Invest in a good pump – I rent the Medela Symphony hospital grade pump. It was free for 2 months through my insurance and now I pay $70 month (it’s worth it);
  7. As a follow up to #6, buy extra pump parts so you don’t have to wash them all the time;
  8. As a follow up to #7, put your pump parts in the fridge after you use them so you don’t need to wash them each time (I only wash mine 1x day, if that).
  9. Invest in a good BF pillow – I prefer the My Breast Friend Deluxe
  10. DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU!!!

So you want to breastfeed your twins?  Let me start by saying that my twins are 11 weeks old and are now almost exclusively breastfed (outside of one bottle for their late night feeding). However, it was not easy to get to this point and I debated giving up many times.  BF works for some and not for others and the most important thing is that you do what’s best for you and ignore societal pressures and the stigma’s that come along with BF vs. Formula.

My twins were in the NICU for 5 days. Right after I gave birth, the nurses were urging me to pump every 3 hours and at least one time between 12AM-6AM.  As a FTM, I didn’t know what to expect; I grew frustrated the first few days that nothing was coming out of the pump. My girls were too fragile to BF as it would burn too many calories and the most important thing was that they gain (or at least maintain) weight.  The NICU started them on Enfamil for babies born prematurely. I continued to pump but got very little. Finally, on day 5, my milk came in.

Once the girls came home, we would spend about 1 session per day trying to BF. They had great latches but I would feed them one at a time and each feed would take over an hour and they would still be hungry after; we’d have to give them a bottle after they BF. I continued to pump every 3 hours but I never got enough to feed both of them.  I drank every concoction and ate lactation cookies to try and increase my supply – it wasn’t working. I began to get very frustrated and wondered why I should even bother with BF when formula/ bottle feeding is so much easier – it took only 15-20 minutes and my girls were much happier after, plus I would know how much they were getting.  Also, I spent so much time pumping and feeding that I felt like I didn’t really get to spend much time with the babies outside of this. I would often pass them off after I was done feeding so I could get other things done around the house.  My husband was much more into the BF than I was – it was really important to him that I stick with it. Sometimes when preparing the bottles, I would make bottles of formula and tell him it was BM just to satisfy him! 🙂

After the girls got stronger and put on more weight, the breast feeding got easier.  I preferred to feed them 1:1 as I felt a stronger bond with them individually, yet tandem feeding was far more efficient. I could only tandem when someone was next to me to help. I tried every pillow on the market — including the Twin Z and the My Breast Friend Twin Deluxe. My vote is for the latter – the Twin Z was not comfortable for me – my twins kept falling through the sides and I had to always use pillows for support. Once I got the Breast Friend at 8 weeks, my life changed! I could tandem feed them myself and it was comfortable and easy (as easy as tandem feedings twins can be).

My girls ate every 3 hours so that was 8 feeds per day.  Finally, by 9 weeks, 6 out of the 8 feeds were from my breast, while I used formula for the remaining 2. I actually prefer to give the twins formula for their feeding before bed because I find that it helps them sleep longer.  I was also surprise (and happy) that my twins didn’t get confused between the bottle and the breast – they would happily go from one to the other.

The first few weeks I was petrified to BF in public (mind you I always cover up using my trendy nursing scarf). However, my twin mama friend (not a FTM) told me that she would take me out and we could do it together and once you do it once, you feel more comfortable.  She was right — I love to BF when I’m out, especially at restaurants before or after the meal comes.

When I’m at home, I use the Breast Friend pillow either on my bed (with no pillow behind me), on the couch or on the ground – the ground is easier when you are alone because you can lay one baby down while setting up.  When I’m on the go, I’ve experimented with different ways to feed the babies without a pillow; if there is a chair with arms, I can do it, though it can be challenging.  Sometimes, when I’m out at a restaurant, I’ll feed one baby at a time, or, if I’m with friends and they are both hungry, I’ll BF one and hand a bottle to someone else to help.

The moral of the story is that you need to do what’s best for you. I went into this un-afraid to use formula. I went from formula feeding, to mixing BM with formula to almost exclusively giving the girls BF. I figured that although they are getting some formula, they are reeking the benefits of having some breast milk. I’m glad I didn’t give up on BF because it really did get easier over time.  I’m not sure how long I will BF for. I’ve set a goal of 6 months. If that extends to 9 months or 12 months that’s great.  We’ll take each week at a time and see what works best for our lifestyle!

Here’s my top 10 advice to any new mamas out there who are getting frustrated:

  1. I urge you to at least try and breast feed. If it doesn’t work, who cares!
  2. Even if one feeding per day is breast milk, that is good enough.
  3. If you haven’t yet BF in public, do it with another mom until you feel comfortable
  4. Invest in a cute BF cover.
  5. When pumping, don’t keep track of how much you pump. I would stare at the pump the entire time and be discouraged and upset when I only got 2 ounces. Once I stopped tracking it in my phone and staring down the whole time, my supply increased.
  6. Invest in a good pump – I rent the Medela Symphony hospital grade pump. It was free for 2 months through my insurance and now I pay $70 month (it’s worth it);
  7. As a follow up to #6, buy extra pump parts so you don’t have to wash them all the time;
  8. As a follow up to #7, put your pump parts in the fridge after you use them so you don’t need to wash them each time (I only wash mine 1x day, if that).
  9. Invest in a good BF pillow – I prefer the My Breast Friend Deluxe
  10. DO WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU!!!
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