*Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. This is my personal experience.*
Among the millions of things I was worried about while expecting twins, breastfeeding topped the charts. I’d heard friends with only one baby talk about how hard it was to nurse every two hours around the clock. I heard success stories and failures, talked to breastfeeding moms and formula feeding moms. Found some in-between moms. And still, being able to breastfeed twins had me stressing.
I’ll start with this – I was never against using formula.
I just had these hopes and dreams of the greatest baby experience ever, where I would get to breastfeed my children and provide everything they’d need, while bonding with our babies in a way unlike anything else. I loved the idea of being the only one to feed them.
But then we landed ourselves a 2 and a half week stay in the NICU. This had its pros and cons, but mostly, it started out great. Lactation consultants were pretty much by my side the entire time. They set me up within hours of delivery with a breast pump, and a plan to pump ever 2-3 hours, to match the routine the babies would have in the NICU. While I was in the hospital, this was
easy manageable. I was pumping enough to feed the babies breast milk during the day, and formula at night. My supply was increasing – and I was proud enough of how it was going!
There was also a downside though. They say that exhaustion and stress has a lot to do with your milk supply – and I have to say I saw a direct connection there. On tougher days I’d notice a decrease in milk, and on better days an increase. If I’d slept well I’d wake up and get a ton of milk, if not I’d wake up and not get much at all. The only constant was that I ate pretty well while we were in the NICU, which definitely helped things.
Once we got home though, things changed. I no longer had help with the babies, because my husband went back to work. While we are managing just fine on our own, I’m left with a lot less time during the day to do my own thing. I don’t even get much opportunity to nap, so pumping at night seems like an extra interruption of the only sleep I do get.
So pumping on a routine went completely off the books. Add to that the fact that I’m now getting less sleep, I’m a little more stressed moment to moment (though being home has my overall stress level lower), I don’t eat regularly, and I’m not nearly as hydrated as I was in the hospital. Those nurses fill your water bottle hourly, and that’s encouraging and helpful! Can I get a little water elf here at home?
Add it all up, and my milk supply has totally taken a dive off the deep end. I’m lucky if we get one bottle of breast milk every two days. So recently I got to thinking – where do we go from here?
My overall thought these days is that if we end up exclusively formula feeding, that’s ok.
I’ve had to let go of control of a lot of things being home with twins, and at the end of the day if my children are healthy and growing, that’s all that matters. Sure, I’d prefer to breast feed both nutritionally, emotionally, and heck – even financially. But if this is something I can no longer control, so be it.
I do still pump. It’s not regular. It’s not all that successful. And it usually doesn’t seem worth the time – especially when you finally have a whole bottle, and spill it. Anyone who tells you not to cry over spilt milk obviously hasn’t ever been a pumping mom!
We don’t really breastfeed. Elizabeth does great initially, but falls asleep fast. Bentley barely makes it two minutes before he passes out. Not worth it. Also if we were exclusively breastfeeding, I’d literally be nursing around the clock and I don’t have the time for that. Or the patience really.
At the end of the day, the twins got mostly breastmilk for the first, most important weeks of their lives. We got through the preemie stage and our NICU stay with quite a bit of breastmilk, and for that, I’m thankful.
So what are my suggestions?
Don’t set your sights so high that you let yourself down. It’s hard enough being a new mom. Success or not at breastfeeding shouldn’t define your success as a mom!
Know that, even for one baby, it’s ok to formula feed. My kids are healthy. Growing. This is all that matters.
If you’re going to pump, stay on a schedule! This is how I had the greatest success.
Watch your sleep and stress. Eat well, and drink a ton. Like more than a ton. Be a fish.
There are foods that help with milk supply. Eat them. I saw the greatest success with oatmeal, ground flax seed, and waterwaterwaterwaterwaterdrown. I can’t vouch for it but I’ve also heard great things about Brewer’s Yeast + Fenugreek.
Don’t quit! I’m still making a conscious effort to pump – even though it’s not going the way I’d planned. Every little bit matters, because every little bit they get is good for them. So for now, we keep going!
Do you have tips and tricks for pumping, even when life is crazy? How about on getting your milk supply back? Leave a comment below – let’s chat!