Breastfeeding Twins: Just Like Riding A Bike…Kinda…Not Really…

7 Jun

A fellow mummy blogger wrote a post last week that compelled me to write this one.  Sare from “Getting From Here To There” talked about her decision to breastfeed for as long as possible.  She felt that it should be the norm not the exception.

Speaking as a mum of twins, it’s not uncommon to breast feed for a maximum of 8 weeks.

It initially takes a lot of patience, persistence and help.

It’s a trickier business to continue.

The various positions for breast feeding twins...I stuck to postion one...

Midwives:

It was a mixed blessing that our 5 week premature twins had to stay in the NICU for two weeks.  It broke my heart to leave them behind when I was discharged.  But, that time gave me the opportunity to enter – as I like to call it – The Special School of Twin Breastfeeding.

Yes, I had icy cold hands constantly touching my once precious puppies.  But I will forever grateful to the NICU midwives.

At 35 weeks gestation, babies know how to suck.  They know how to swallow.  Both as separate functions.

So, babies who are born at this age need to learn how to co-ordinate the two.

To breastfeed successfully, took a concerted effort from mum, babies and outside help.  Nothing about it was a breeze.

One by one: First attempt by Little K...and no...that wasn't Hubby's hand...

Australian Breatfeeding Association:

We had their Helpline on speed dial – 1800 686 2 686 (1800 mum 2 mum)

When the boys were two months old, I found myself bowling over with shooting pains in my right breast.  I suspected nipple thrush.  I feared mastitis.

We called the ABA in the middle of the night for help.  For guidance.  For some moral support.

Suffering from nipple thrush for almost two months, not only were there regular trips to the GP, we also made dozens of calls to the ABA.

Sometimes I heard what they had to say (“You’re doing a great job…Hang in there !”).

Sometimes I wanted to throw the phone across the room (“I know it hurts, but you have to continue breast feeding !”).

Overall, they were there.  Listening.  Offering help.

Going Solo…

When Hubby went back to work, I was left with the daunting task of figuring out how to feed the boys on my own.

It took a couple of attempts.

At first, I had to feed them seperately.  Not only did it become time consuming, I constantly had a baby latched to a breast.  I wasn’t far off being a milking cow.

Then, the boys got a little bigger, with better head and neck control.

The feeding routine then went like this:

  • Scoop up Twin One from cot and carry with left arm.
  • Scoop up Twin Two from cot and carry with right arm.
  • Carry both bundles of joy to the lounge room and sit down at one end of the couch.
  • While holding Twin One, place Twin Two on a cushion on the right.

(Now for the tricky part)

  • With the twin breast feeding pillow at arm’s reach, strap the pillow on with my free hand, while making sure Twin Two didn’t roll off his cushion.
  • Place Twin One on the breast feeding pillow, then place Twin Two.

At last...two at a time...

Now tell me that sounds like riding a bike…

My boys were naturally weaned – three weeks shy of their first birthday.  Ironically, out of the entire experience, that probably felt the most natural.

Breast feeding in general is no easy feat.

Adding another baby to the boob can change the whole equation.

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13 Responses to “Breastfeeding Twins: Just Like Riding A Bike…Kinda…Not Really…”

  1. Sarah @GettingfromHeretoThere June 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Awesome post Grace! Breastfeeding one bub is tough, breastfeeding two at a time is talent! It’s so worth the effort. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂 xo

  2. mamagrace71 June 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Thank you for the inspiration, my dear 🙂
    Yes, it was worth the effort xo

  3. Ash June 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Oh wow Grace! I was having a whinge about having to express to boost my supply again. I’ve had it easy compared to feeding two! That’s amazing of you to have given them that for their first year. x

    • mamagrace71 June 8, 2011 at 9:29 am #

      Expressing ! I remember that fun “chore” 🙂 I don’t know what I did was amazing, as such. I think we just do what we feel is right and important. And I’m a bit of a stubborn chook (as my husband often reminds me) so I didn’t want something like a “bit of nipple thrush” get in the way 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by ! x

  4. Trish June 8, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Well written. I couldn’t remember how I did it at first right now LOL.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I will link it on my blog.
    Well done on BF twins it is a challenge at the best of times.
    My boys were 35w4d and in NICU for 4 days, SCN for another 2 weeks [For no good reason 😦 ].
    I didn’t get as much help as I think I should have from hosp.
    My littler twin didn’t start BF till 5 months old – I was lucky I could express for him completely.
    Once he started I could tthen start twin feeding.
    I breastfeed my twin boys too (for a long time) though (4 yrs)

    • mamagrace71 June 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

      That’s amazing how you expressed for 5 months. Truly.
      Your journey in NICU and SCN sound really tough. I know one mother who had her boys in seperate parts of the unit and would have to juggle between the two.
      I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get enough support from the hospital.
      Trish, I think you’re an amazing woman for all you’ve done for your boys x

  5. Deb Wild Hope June 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Wow! You did an amazing job! I admire you for your determination and for being such a committed mother.

  6. Lulu June 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Just reading this now- sorry I am late to read it.

    Breastfeeding 2 is an amazing feat- you did so well! I can`t imagine how tough it was. I can kind of imagine how hard it was to keep supply etc while your boys were in hospital. Shion was born 31 +4 and didn`t bf until about 34 weeks- it took so much perserverence but I am glad I persisted. He is now bf full-time and gaining well so hopefully we can continue for awhile. Pumping was such a chore and so hard with Noah still been so young but I am glad I did it.

    You did a fantastic job!

    I am not saying that breastfeeing is the be all and end all (some just can`t,and a stressed mum makes for a stressed baby and/or babies and I don`t think bfing is for everyone even though I am pro bfing)- you mentioned the analogy, just like riding a bike. For me, it definitely wasn` t that way second time around- I had no issues bfing Noah at all, I was super lucky but with Shion it was a completely different story with cracked nipples one he came home and was feeding more often (since I was on “tap” haha) and then mastitis and more. Now he is 5 months tho and going strong.

    • mamagrace71 June 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

      Totally agree with you – a stressed mum makes a stressed baby.

      Good on you for keeping your supply going for those weeks little Shion couldn’t BF. Especially when you had another little one to look after. Gokurousama ! 🙂

  7. Holly Homemaker June 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    I love this post so much!

    Breastfeeding one babe can be tricky but breastfeeding two? Go girlfriend!

    Also love the ABA mention too. The girls on Helpline helped me out more than they will ever realise! I’m actually training right now to become a breastfeeding counsellor and work on Helpline 🙂

    So lovely to hear another Mama have a positive breastfeeding experience x

    • mamagrace71 June 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Wow! You’ll be on the other end of the Helpline ! That’s wonderful ! I think the guys at ABA are absolute troopers. I couldn’t believe when someone picked up on the other end when we called at midnight. And just once, either 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by !

      • Kirri White June 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

        Ahh Grace – i tried, I really tried to do the breast-feeding twin thang but I only made it to three months. I had mastitis twice and found one twin with good sucking potential and the other rather weak -which lead to an an ‘imbalance’ and further issues…..I fed them separately, partly because I wanted that one on one bonding and partly because doing two at the same time just made me feel like a machine.

        When it came down to it, I felt like I like I just couldnt do it any more…..the fatigue was making me crazy and being a slight lass at the best of times, I started fading into a skinny rat…. I just could not eat and drink enough to maintain a decent supply.

        Total admiration and respect!

      • mamagrace71 June 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm #

        Likewise, Kirri – total admiration and respect for you too !
        3 months of breast feeding twins is a FANTASTIC feat ! Especially when you had to face all the issues that you did. Hats off to you.
        The midwives would tell me “what a great job” I was doing but I would always say it was teamwork.
        Like your experiences have proven, it’s all about “balance” and making sure it works for the three of you.

        So well done !

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