Saturday, September 26, 2009

Breastfeeding Twins... How-To (for those who even care?)

This is one of those posts that I may be writing mostly for me. And for that one other mom out there who wants to nurse her twins. Otherwise, probably pretty boring especially since there are no nudie pictures here to entertain my possibly one guy reader, if there are that many.

True, some of this probably applies to singletons. Actually, I should probably retitle the post, "How I breastfeed MY twins" to be totally accurate. And if you don't want to take any of my advice, no hard feelings! Admittedly, 90% of what I've figured out about what works for us has come from me not taking the advice of many, many other people. Okay, so probably not "many, many" as I have found a relative dearth of (useful) information out there about nursing multiples.

Like my earlier post about grocery shopping, I am no super mom. I'm not preachy; it might not be your thing to nurse some babies, or even A baby, and that's totally fine It is mine, though. There wasn't any doubt in my mind that I was going to nurse the girls. And therein probably lies most of our success (I say "our" for a reason; we'll get there) as I am the most stubborn person I've ever met. (And have I mentioned "cheap"? I balk at the idea of buying formula for my two piggie-pies!) I guess a certain amount of laziness comes into it as well. I hate feeding bottles for SO many reasons, not the least of which is preparation, clean-up and so on. I'd rather suffer through mastitis or leakiness to avoid spending extra time in the kitchen. I'd SO much prefer to sit on the couch and zone out while I feed the kids or have both my hands free to eat my sandwich at the same time and so on and so forth.

But never mind all of that, I'm not trying to justify my... ahem, our decision. Just offer some insight into how it's done.

It's not going to be a huge, comprehensive guide though, because any mom - nursing or not - knows that feeding goes hand-in-hand with SO much else... sleeping, temperament, age, size, etc. So I'll present it in question-answer format, mmmkay? Here we go:

Do you feed them both at the same time?

No. I did a few times when they were very wee and it was a bigger hassle than it was worth. It involved me sitting in the middle of the couch with the Boppy around my waist and a throw pillow on each side of the Boppy for extra support with my shirt and bra totally off. I had to position the twins head-to-head across the pillow fort so their legs were pointed out and their noggins met at the midline of my body. I'd help one latch, then the other. They'd nurse for about the same amount of time and each girl would need to be burped. That's where it got tricky: I had to choose one to burp first, leaving her sister to wiggle around with a gas bubble stuck until I could take care of her. Ugh. PLUS they'd be continually hungry at the same times and if I wasn't at home to do the couch thing or if it was the middle of the night, I'd have to bring them both all the way down stairs to the couch or else leave one baby screaming in the crib while I nursed her sister.

So if not at the same time, what do you do?

Well, really the biggest thing about nursing the two of them is that I nurse TWO individual babies. I've made the decision to treat them not as a unit - as twins - but as two babies who are both breastfed. So I let them dictate the schedule. I feed them when they're hungry which, now, is rarely at the same time. Mostly, because they ARE the same age (obviously) they eat about the same amount and the same number of times, and my boobs are deliciously NOT lop-sided because they consume about the same each time.

The name of the game here is "neglect". Totally kidding. But not really. See, usually I get lucky and one baby wakes up just a little bit before the other or actually wants to spend time in a swing or exersaucer (as opposed to being placed there against her will, which never sometimes happens) so I can feed her sister. It usually works out that I finish feeding one right about the same time the other one wakes up, gets bored, or decides she's hungry.

If they're both hungry at the same time, well, I have to choose the one whose cries annoy me more and pacify her first.

Do you basically spend your life nursing?!?

*sigh* Yes.

How do you do a schedule!?

HAH! I don't. Not that I would, really. I'm an on-demand kinda gal. I follow a routine more than a schedule. I make sure that our day consists of chunks of time divided thusly (I love the word "thusly"... so snobby, not even sure if it IS a word...): eat, then play/stuff/activity, sleep. I refuse to nurse them to sleep. I did it with Jack and hated myself for it. So I feed them and then we do whatever it is we do and I put them down to sleep without nursing them again. It has done a couple of things for us: allowed me to be able to put them to bed at the same time without having to nurse them at the same time, and allow me to avoid missing that "critical point" (where a baby is tired enough to fall asleep on her own before getting over tired) because I was busy feeding her sister.

Are you like, super skinny? All those calories!

Well, no. See, I eat probably the equivalent of a small ranch worth of food a day. And drink several (yes, several) gallons of water every day. I'm getting there with the baby weight, but I'm actively trying to NOT lose it too quickly. I also end up using Fenugreek here and there to help me out with supply.

I can't really pump - there's not a good time for me to pump since if I'm in between feedings with the girls, I'm most assuredly doing some kind of chore or playing with Jack...

La Leche League said...

I'm saying they can kiss my behind. Well, I wouldn't say that. But I've found that loads of their advice doesn't work in practice. Most notably their pearl of wisdom that states that twins should alternate breasts at each feeding. PAH! I tried that and all I ended up with was a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that caused major gas issues and wonky supply fluctuations. I picked a boob for each girl and kept it that way. It goes along with me treating them as individuals - they have differing nutritional needs for different metabolisms so why mix that up? LLL cites a need for varying visual stimulation or some such... but really, just hold your kid on the other side and coo at them now and again instead of nursing if it's that big a problem. I was finding that if I nursed Addie on one side, with the intention of nursing her on the opposite side the next time, I would then end up feeding Jordan on the side that Addie was going to eat from next and next thing I know one baby's getting more foremilk and the other one gets more hind milk. That, and it got really hard to keep track of. LLL has lots of good stuff, really, but for me, it was better to do my own thing. (I also use pacifiers and bottles - gasp!)

They must be really good nursers then, right?

Well, they are to an extent. Addie has never had any feeding issues at all. Jordan sometimes has latch problems and she's got terrible reflux so feedings are always an issue involving screaming and crying and arching of the back. But I've got enough tricks up my sleeve that I can usually calm her down. Her meal battles don't really affect Addie though, thankfully, because of the aforementioned "Assigned Boob" technique. If I know I'm in for it with Jo, I just feed Addie first and let her play while I deal with Madame Fussypants. Just requires patience. She's not any better with a bottle of formula, so I may as well nurse through the episodes and at least not have to worry about wasting money. I can't so much pump out money to keep up a supply (wouldn't THAT be swell?!) if I make a formula bottle and chuck it the way I can if I delay a nursing session to let her cool down.

... So, you see, it's not too bad for me. Once I let go of nursing twins and started looking at it as nursing two babies, I really just let each one dictate how our relationship works and now try to keep it separate from how her sister's and my relationship goes. It's simplest that way. It's like going to the grocery store... one step at a time, one battle at a time, we get through it.

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