mama story: what I wish I'd known about nursing twins
This mama story comes from pumpspotting community member Lauren Edmonds, a Chicago-area native raising her crazy, wonderful 6 year old son and 4 year olds twins. Thank you Lauren for sharing your experience and wisdom with us!
Sounds simple, right? Milk comes from your boobs, those boobs feed your baby, all are happy.
But every mother on this planet knows that the steps in between boob to baby are infinite. And then add an additional baby (or two) and things get CRAZY.
I have breastfed one baby. I have breastfed twins. While breastfeeding one is complicated, breastfeeding two is just NUTS. So for all you out there trying to survive the breastfeeding process with multiples, I wanted to share below all of my most crucial learnings in the hopes that it might make it just a little bit easier for you.
Four things I wish I'd known about breastfeeding twins:
1. Get those babies on your boob stat!
After 38 weeks with two babies in my belly, I was absolutely giddy to get them out. Fast forward to the recovery room and I look at 2 babies in my arms and I PANIC. I was always planning on breastfeeding the twins since I successfully nursed my older son for 11 months. And in that moment, staring at the twins, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I looked around the room at the doctors and nurses, my husband, my mom, and I kept asking (begging) for the answers on how I was actually supposed to start breastfeeding. What I realize now is that in the first hours after the twins birth, I should have just TRIED to breastfeed. The hospital was busy, my husband sure didn’t know what to do, and I kept asking for the right answer when I should have just had faith in my gut.
2. Scheduling is KEY.
I remember thinking I knew what tired was before kids. I used to swim 6 hours a day, and then do it all again the next day. I pulled all nighters in college, writing 20 page papers because I had procrastinated for weeks. But nothing, NOTHING, could prepare me for the sheer exhaustion of early motherhood. With exhaustion comes a lower capacity to handle anything more than survival. I fed the twins on and off throughout the night, never getting more than a few hours of sleep. But I always tried my very best to keep them on a schedule, when my son woke up to eat, I woke up my daughter. When it had been 3 hours, even if they were sleeping, I made them eat. Gradually this precise schedule helped me out immensely and allowed me SLEEP.
3. Learn to LOVE your breast pump.
Your pump will give you the independence you will inevitably crave. At 4 months, my daughter kept pulling of my boob while feeding, causing explosive streams of milk flying over my sons head, while he fed like a crazy person. After that, I decided to pretty much solely pump so that the twins could continue to eat at the same time.
I brought that sucker with me everywhere. I could be found pumping in the back corner of a bar, in the office of a bowling alley, crouched in the corner of a bathroom at a Chinese restaurant. It wasn’t until I found the battery adapter to my pump that my absolute love affair began. I could pump on the go?! YES PLEASE! You could then find me wandering around my house while pumping, changing diapers while pumping, putting dishes away while pumping. But the very best part of hands free, wireless pumping was being able to drive while producing “meals” for my babies. Yes driving. My commute to Chicago was epic. I would role the windows down, blare music, and PUMP. Did truck drivers saw my finger length nipples and my engorged, veiny boobs? Maybe, but I didn’t care one bit---I was free and feeding!
4. It’s ok to know when you are done.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful, beautiful natural act that brings us closer to our sweet babies. But any new mom would be hard pressed to say that breastfeeding isn’t hard. They would tell you how utterly frustrating, time consuming, and painful it can be. Add in multiple babies, and it can feel impossible.
I had it in my head I would nurse the twins until they were 11 months. I’d tell myself, breastfeed the twins for as long as I did for my first kid, and I would be a good mom. 6 months into nursing my twins and I was starting to lose my mind. The twins were drinking so much that I was engorged all day. It was hard to stand up right due to the pain. It had become much harder to keep my 2 year old at bay while I was pumping and I was running on little to no patience.
One night, my husband turned to me in bed and suggested that maybe I could slow down or stop breastfeeding. I heard this and got really mad. How dare he even allude to the fact that I couldn’t do this?! But then his words sunk in and I started to cry…in relief. I had been waiting for someone to give me the permission to slow this train down. I needed my body back so that I could be strong enough for my 3 children.
Moms of multiples know this: I believe in you.
You can do this. Whether you breastfeed for 1 month, exclusively pump for half a year, or breastfeed for 2 years, you are a champion. Do the best you can and always remember to take care of yourself. Your babies will follow your lead.