Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breastfeeding Twins



The Beginning...
Almost the first thing our little babies did in this world was breastfeed. They latched on for about 30 minutes each. It was so adorable. Their little eyes were open and looking around. They were so tiny.. born 3 weeks early at just 5 pounds and 5 pounds 3 ounces. But you couldn't tell they were early or small by the way they latched on & ate to their hearts content. However, they did begin breathing fast & grunting shortly after they were born, so after they breastfed they were moved to the NICU for observation for about 8 hours. I missed them soo much, and I worried about how breastfeeding would go with this separation. Thankfully, I was able to breastfeed them once while they were in the NICU.. about 5 hours after they first fed. Our second attempt together was not as smooth as the first feed, mainly because they were not as awake. Eventually both babies ate for about 20 minutes. I was thankful for this, becuase I didn't want the NICU to have any excuse to keep them.


The First 48 Hours
At around 10am the morning after they were born, the babies had resolved their breating issues & graduated from the NICU to the newborn nursery, so they were able to room in with me. And wow, I was not prepared for the amount of work feeding two babies would be! In the hospital I fed the twins one at a time, while we all learned what we were doing. However, this took up nearly all of my time, and I went about 36 hours without sleep. The only way we actually did sleep a few hours was by telling the nurses not to let anyone in our room.. and sending the babies to the nursery for a couple hours until their next feed. I was so sleep deprived that I wasn't able to enjoy my new babies as much as I would have liked. That's when I decided I HAD to tandem breastfeed.

The First Month
The twins will be 4 weeks old tomorrow, and I'm happy to say breastfeeding is going much more smoothly than those first few days in the hospital! I wasn't able to tandem breastfeed more than once or twice in the hospital, but once we all got home I almost exclusively tandem fed. I learned to do it on my own by always using a couch or futon to breastfeed on. I place the twins beside me on the couch while I strap on my (huge, twin-size) nursing pillow. Then I place the babies on the pillow one at a time. Then I latch one, and then the other, both in the football hold. (The picture above shows the general position I use.) When they are both done, I burp them one at a time and then put them down on the couch. Then I change them & put them to sleep.

Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on all the more comfortable positions for breastfeeing... like side lying or the cradle hold. I do use these on occasion when only one is fussing, but the convenience of having both babies fed in the same amount of time as one far outweighs my desire to use any alternative positions.

I have been able to use a nursing cover, so I can nurse when company is around. (Yay.. for a while I just hid out in the nursery when anyone came over because it took me a few weeks to even feel comfortable enough to try the cover. I was about to go crazy from being so isolated from everyone.) I haven't actually nursed in public though. I am thinking it is going to be impossible to tandem feed in public, because of the need for the nursing pillow. That's not something that is exactly discreet in a restaurant or a mall. From everything I read from other twin moms, they either nurse them one at a time, or bring bottles for both, or have dad bottle feed one while one nurses.

The hardest part of nursing has been that I am responsible for all the feeds 24/7. I haven't missed one since they have been born, and it gets pretty tiring! I am working on pumping. I would LOVE to get a huge supply in the freezer, so that I could easily have someone else feed them as needed. However... I have had issues pumping much milk after they twins eat. I am working on it though.. I have 9 ounces in the freezer. I don't want to use any of it until I have enough for the first day I go back to work though. Which by the time I go back to work.. I am estimating I will need 24 ounces for the entire 12 hours for both babies. Yikes!!

Ultimately I do believe breastfeeding twins is the easiest (and healthiest) way to feed them. It beats giving them bottles separately.. and dealing with one crying while the other is eating!

7 comments:

thewelchblog said...

What a beautiful picture! I can't wait to hear the rest of this post...

Dan and Kate Ambrose said...

What a beautiful blessing you are giving your boys! And I think tandem nursing is amazing!

When do you have to go back to work? What will your schedule be like then?

Krystal said...

I am planning on going back when the boys are 12 weeks old. But, it will only be 4 12 hour shifts a month at the most (if we are over staffed I will be the first one they cancel, so it could be less). We have both sets of grandparents in the area that will be babysitting them these days, so I think it will work out ok. I am hoping the boys will be sleeping longer stretches at night by then though!

Dani said...

I just came across your blog through a comment you left on another identical twin boy blog.....I have identical twin boys who are almost 8 months old. I just wanted to encourage you with the nursing and also let you know that as the boys get bigger, you may be able to tandem nurse without the huge pillow!! :) I noticed you said that you didn't know if you'd be able to tandem in public b/c of the pillow...I was unsure too. But I NEVER use the pillow anymore and I've successfully tandem nursed in public with a nursing cover. I hold one cradle hold and the other one football hold(the football hold baby lays on the cradle baby's tummy). I've got some pictures, but they aren't on my blog yet...I am horrible at keeping up with my blog. If you're interested in seeing the position I can email you the picture..I'm fully covered up in it. My email is danimarie@gmail.com. Congratulations...your boys are adorable!!

Krystal said...

Dani, I appreciate the comment! I sent you an email... I would love to see a picture! I just can't imagine nursing these guys without this pillow.

Amber Mc said...

Krystal,

My name is Amber McCann and I am a lactation consultant just outside of Washington, DC. I came across your blog post while doing some research for a private breastfeeding class I am giving to an expectant twins mom tomorrow. Your picture is wonderful and I was wondering if you might permit me to us it in my presentation?

You can contact me at amber@nourishbreastfeeding.com

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