Breastfeeding Twins - Beth's Story

20 August 2012

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd do a series focused on breastfeeding twins. However, since I was not quite successful in that endeavor, I enlisted the help of a few friends. First up is Beth (popularly known on my sidebar as Nattie and Vera's mom). She's got 20 months and counting of twin breastfeeding experience under her belt. Lot's to share and lots to learn. Hope you enjoy Beth's breastfeeding story as much as I did.

Breast feeding twins is like competing in a marathon...there's the race to get two babies fed, it burns a ton of calories, and there are people on the sidelines cheering or critiquing.

I've been in this nursing marathon for twenty months now and honestly, I've had enough! Sometimes when my babies nurse it feels like they're sucking the life out of me. I call them my 'milk vampires'. With twins, why oh why did I decide to nurse until their second birthday?
Chilling in the mall with the twincesses.
(Vera in purple and Nattie in red)

Well...the decision was instinctual. It's what felt right for the well-being and comfort of my girls. I didn't plan on nursing for long. When I was pregnant I thought I'd breast feed for six months. For no good reason, I thought two years was too long. I thought babies were too old for it once they could walk up to the "boob bar" and "order" a drink. I was one of the people on the sidelines judging mothers for how long they nursed. I guess society's preconceptions rubbed off on me. After a little research, I found that the World Health Organization recommends two or more years breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a year or as long as possible. While it feels natural for me to do so, it hasn't always been easy...

I didn't prepare for nursing while I was pregnant. I was scared but reassured that breast feeding comes naturally. While this may be true for some, it wasn't for me. It was more like learning how to ride a bike. The babies had trouble latching on, and I couldn't figure out how to hold the breast the right way. It took three weeks until it clicked and felt like second nature. It really helped to supplement with formula and expressed milk for the first few months.

I began nursing one baby at a time. This was the most comfortable position for me. When necessary, I nursed one and propped up a bottle for the other. Around two months I started tandem nursing with My Breast Friend Pillow. This saved time and kept the babies in-sync. At five months I went back to breastfeeding one at a time. I was able to hold off one baby with a pacifier while I nursed the other. Or one would wake before the other to nurse. We fell into a nice rhythm where they were slightly out-of-sync with naps and nursing. From their first birthday forward, we went back to tandem nursing. As toddlers they have more control and like to hang out at the "boob bar" together.

It's been quite a ride - a bumpy start then smooth, a few "lulls" and extreme at times. Some months like, the sixth or seventh month the babies nursed less. Late teething however, has brought on more nursing and I feel stretched to the limit. My poor breasts feel and may soon look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

A few times in the first six months I had plugged ducts. This is when a milk duct becomes clogged and the breast is hard and sore. It can be caused by a few different things like stress or a change in the feeding schedule. It's easily treatable with a hot washcloth and compress.

Another difficult thing is the nurse-to-sleep association that has effected our sleep routine. And lastly, there is the mother's guilt. I will always feel a little guilty for drinking on occasion and not having a more nutritious diet. The quality of my milk is always questionable. Proteins and minerals are being leeched from my body to make breast milk. It's important that I continue to improve my diet and supplement with prenatal vitamins.

Besides these challenges of breast feeding, I am thankful for its health benefits, comforts and convenience. I can't imagine stopping would feel weird since it's such a natural thing for my baby girls. I know they aren't ready to be weaned.

I have no regrets except, for my mediocre diet. I'm not concerned about being judged over how long or when (with infants) I nurse (sorry dude that sat next to me on the airplane!). My babies come first, and it's such a special time while breast or bottle feeding.

I wish I had read a post like this one month into my attempts to breastfeed the girls. Then I would have known that I could wait a few months for my supply to come. I thought the milk was supposed to gush like a river almost immediately. Too late to cry over spilled milk for me; but not for a lot of new moms out there who could do with the light at the end of the tunnel that Beth's story provides. Please be sure to visit Beth's blog; her posts are as real and informative as the one you just read plus Nattie and Vera are gorgeous.

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