When you have a baby, you quickly realize that the feeding and care of this baby is going to be a full time job. Well, when you have two babies, it pretty much consumes your life. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "How do you feed two babies? You're not nursing are you?" So, I thought I would blog about just that.
When Seth was born, I breast fed exclusively for 13 months. Dutifully, I nursed him every three hours (day and night) for the first several months. I went back to work when he was 12 weeks old and closed the door to my closet and pumped twice a day to keep up my supply. Formula was far and few between and I felt extremely guilty and cringed every time it came up. By the time the 13 months was up, I was proud of myself, but I was exhausted.
Well, when I found out that we were having twins, I immediately thought about nursing. I started to do the math. Newborns eat every 2 to 3 hours. At first, a feeding can take 45 minutes to one hour easily. At that rate, if I nursed them separately, I would be nursing quite literally 20 hours a day. Also, how in the world would I be able to keep up with nursing two babies and chasing a 3 year old. We made the command decision that I would nurse for a year, but supplementing would be a way of life and that Scott could take some middle of the night feedings this time.
When the boys were born by Cesarean at 36 weeks, and I suffered a major postpartum hemorrhage, I wasn't able to nurse right away. We sent the boys to the nursery where they were started on formula while I recovered. The next day, I started trying to nurse. The babies latched, but my milk hadn't come in, so I started pumping and feeding them the colostrum with a syringe. The lactation consultants (yes, two of them) came in and helped me tandem nurse by latching them both at the same time. One baby and one consultant on each breast.
When we got home from the hospital, I nursed one baby while someone else gave the other baby a bottle, then we switched at the next feeding. I had forgotten about how painful nursing is and how much it takes out of you. I tried tandem nursing at home, but couldn't get the hang of it.
I went to a breast feeding support group where the lactation consultant showed me how to use my huge twin nursing pillow by rolling up blankets to place underneath my wrists, hold the babies heads and then have a friend "roll" each breast into the mouth of a baby. All the other moms, discreetly nursing their one baby happily, watched with mouths agape as the consultant and my step-mom Bambi each helped me latch a baby. It worked for about 3 minutes before a baby popped off. They helped me position him just in time to see the other baby pop off. When we got home, Bambi and I tried again, but it just... wasn't... happening. For the next few months, I continued to nurse one baby at a time while someone else bottled the other baby.
Around 10 weeks, I decided to give it another shot. By this time the boys were getting good at nursing on their own and big enough that I wouldn't need to roll up blankets to support my wrists to hold their heads. It worked! We did it! At that point, everything changed. I was able to nurse two babies at once, by myself! I was so proud! Only problem was that, after months of nursing one baby at a time, my milk production wasn't high enough to nurse two babies exclusively. At that point, I was producing enough milk for 1 baby. So, I'd nurse, then supplement with formula.
Soon after, I returned to work and to my closet to pump twice a day. At first, I was pumping quite a bit of milk, but then the stress of working, and being a mom of 3 kids (3 and under), started having a toll on my milk supply. I would pump for 20 minutes and get maybe 3 ounces. The babies were each drinking up to 6 oz. at each feeding! I'm going on a trip, sans babies, to Chicago in April, so I decided to start weaning the boys.
So, now here we are at 6 months. I still tandem nurse first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but I don't think they get much out of it (maybe an ounce apiece). They are hungry, growing little boys! We give the boys 5 bottles a day at 6 oz. each bottle. As you can imagine, we go through a lot of formula and a lot of bottles each day.
I know I've done my best to nurse as long and as much as I can, but I can't help but feel guilty every time I mix a bottle. I would never EVER judge another mother for not breast feeding. I don't care if you have one baby or eight. But, for me, this decision to start weaning is really bothering me. For some reason, I am consumed with feeding these babies.
As new mothers we feel such pressure to nurse. I know it's best for them. I know plenty of mothers of multiples have done it successfully. But I also know that lots of moms (especially mothers of multiples) do formula. I was formula fed. Scott was formula fed. Most of my friends were formula fed. We turned out all right.
I gave it my best shot and should be proud of having nursed at all.
Oh well. 2 babies x 6 months = 1 year. Right?
Here are some pics of feeding two babies. I have photos of myself tandem nursing, but I'm not brave enough to post them.
Instead, I found this old photo (obviously not me) as an example:
Daddy getting ready to feed two babies at once:
Grandma Bambi with two Boppies:
G.G. takes a turn:
Bottle feeding with the EZ 2 Nurse Twins pillow:
All in a day's feeding: