Saturday, 6 August 2011

Grateful for breastfeeding twins and sunshine

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

The sunshine in Sydney this week has been like Spring and just what I needed to boost my spirits while feeling so unwell.
My boys loved playing in the sun too and it gave me moments of peace :).

I've seen a few posts this week as part of World Breastfeeding Week.
I wanted to say it again how grateful I was for the support I had to breastfeed my twin sons.Mostly my dear husband.

Once upon a time as soon as I sat down at computer I would be greeted by this sight ...he would bring me the Zoo breastfeeding pillow.

Firstly, I will never beat up any mum about her decision to breastfed or not, nor bash you with lactivist slogans.

Some of my dearest pro breastfeeding friends couldn't get it to happen with some of their babes , because things don't always happen the way we intend or desire.

I know other lovely women who just as soon didn't see breastfeeding as being for them. No worries I don't judge.

I wanted to share my story on breastfeeding twins , as it is my wish that those who choose to breastfeed twins are well supported, able to understand the difficulties and remain hopeful for the future...especially if they have one twin who won't breastfeed.

(Most of story is re-posted).

My twins were born a month premature and most babies under 36 weeks don't have a good sucking reflex.

Though many can start to breastfeed or bottle feed they also have nasogastric tubes (NGT) because sucking exhausts them easily.
So they space the NG tube feeds with a breast or bottle feed initially. I started hand expressing colostrum the same day - like 1-2 mls. Yes mls.

It was a few days before I my milk came in ... then I spent the next three weeks hooked up this pump 5- 6 times a day for 20-30
mins or more each session. I was so determined to breast feed.
S was having a bottle of expressed breast milk (EBM) about every 9 hrs and two tube EBM  feeds in between.He was very reluctant to suck the teat.

The midwives in the Nursery were not that keen for me to breastfeed, it seemed, and I had to fight to let him suck at the nipple at all while he was having a tube feed. He just wasn't interested in the teat/bottle. They kept saying he wouldn't suck. They said not to "tire him out".

J - took to the bottle with expressed breast milk very well and being so little at 2
kgs with a tiny mouth he was having problems attaching. *sigh* So we didn't try him as much but he was up to having a bottle of EBM every six hours, days before his brother, who 800gm heavier.

We were only in the nursery for them to gain weight and feed ...

Finally at 19 days old they let us go home. J - was only having bottle feeds. S only got his
NG tube out the day before we left. He was having breastfeeds with bottle feed top up and bottle feeds overnight when I wasn't there. He wasn't keen on top ups ... wasn't hungry obviously.

We left hospital with a long list of
do's and don'ts. The main one was to overfeed and force top ups on S offer S extra top up feeds after a breastfeed and feed both at least every 3 -4 hrs.

S never had another bottle . Ever !

I knew my mother's
intuition was he didn't want the top up and I knew he was p o o ping and p e e ing enough plus gaining weight. It wasn't that I didn't have the supply.

I was pumping milk for J round the clock. I knew that while I could I wanted to give them both
breast milk.

I felt guilty I wasn't able to get J to attach to the n i p p l e. I saw a lactation consultant but we had no luck. We tried shields - no luck. He just screamed and arched his back. He had a touch of reflux too so we added thickener
Karicare .I knew it was upsetting him to push him any more. I let it go. I tried every him so often if he nuzzled me.

Having a twin still
breastfeeding meant I was able to maintain a good supply for both. I know people expressing for just one baby have a lot of difficulty maintaining supply. A baby sucking is the best method for making milk.

So for the next 4-5 months I expressed - sometimes 5-6 times a day. Sometimes with the tandem collection kit, sometimes whilst breastfeeding S on one side and sometimes while bottle feeding J . Sometimes, I did all at once. I juggled everything with the help of my dear husband. He enjoyed participating in feeding J his bottle too.

Then I mastered three times day expressing.I wish I had known about the pumping bra though ... I spilt a few precious bottles juggling my books or keyboard and holding bottles/pump kits.

One day J was screaming for his milk ...I had to warm the bottle from the fridge. I had just set up to express and thought I would try him.

He was also in a
Pavlik harness for his hips (from 4-6 months) to make matters more complicated in trying to position him the right way to breastfeed.

But surprising he attached and I could feel him feeding, hungrily, properly for the first time. He did it again later .Over the next few days he was down to one
-two EMB bottles at night ( so I could sleep LOL and Daddy could still help)

I continued to express one feed because he had been diagnosed also with the kidney VUR reflux and I wanted to make sure he was getting a good drink to flush his kidneys out. Then one day at about 7 -8 months I stopped expressing.

S & J continued to breastfeed at 21 months. till 4 years 3 months actually. Editted ...

Pretty controversial when I was feeding them even as toddlers - my brother and others disapproved - but so what , it was our journey. I am not suggesting it be someone elses.

My friend who had 30wk premature identical girls. She started both her twins breastfeeding after being home a few weeks on bottle , first with a nipple shield then nothing. They are now almost 7 months old.

Penny shared some of her good and bad breastfeeding experiences in her post on Sshh, mummy’s on the phone this week ... I love the line all mums need support whatever their choice.

Kellie Three Lil Princesses shared Tips that MAY help make breastfeeding easier 
Mostly some things she knows about breastfeeding -what worked for her and how she managed to get through.

A fellow twin mum Grace shares her thoughts and tips on breastfeeding twins and this is what the Australia Breatsfeeding association has to say about breastfeeding twins.

Do you have any breastfeeding tips or stories to share, let me know and I'll add them , twins or not.

What are you Grateful for today ?

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