When I found out I was expecting twins, I thought I would easily figure out breastfeeding twins. I breastfed my first, Theo, up until he was about 11 months old. I loved that I was giving him good quality milk, that it was so easy (no bottles to wash, heck yes!), and that it was FREE. I’m a pretty stubborn individual, and when I set my mind to do something, I usually get it done. I thought that would be the case with breastfeeding twins, but unfortunately, it wasn’t.
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My girls were born almost two months early (you can read my birth story here) and started their lives in the NICU. They received their first feedings via tube, and then gradually were introduced to bottles. With the help of a lactation consultant, I was able to breastfeed a few times while the girls were in the NICU. The girls both latched briefly but received more milk through their feeding tube because they didn’t have the strength to nurse for very long. I was told to give it time by everyone; the doctors, the nurses, the lactation consultants, and even my mom. Apparently around their due date would be the magical time that they became more alert and would have the strength to exclusively breastfeed.
When we brought the girls home, I was totally content pumping and feeding them. I mean, yes, pumping sucks. Washing bottles and pump parts sucks. Heating up bottles sucks, figuring out how to heat up bottles on the go sucks, and it all just sucks!
Why I Was OK With Not Breastfeeding
The girls were gaining weight. Preemies need SO much sleep and don’t like to wake up to eat. Both girls were under 5 pounds when we brought them home and we had to work really hard to get them to eat. It was nice to give them a bottle and know with certainty that they were getting a full feeding.
We were on a routine. Granted, it was a chaotic, exhausting routine, but it was working! We were learning and figuring things out. (If you have newborn twins at home, you can read about my schedule here.) When something is working, why change it?
I was overwhelmed. Being a new twin mom is hard. Being a new twin mom with a 2-year old at home is even harder. Being a new twin mom, with a two- year old at home, with 8-week premature babies is something I’m not even sure how I survived. I remember being so overwhelmed, going through my days just trying to keep everyone fed and in clean diapers. The thought of learning how to tandem breastfeed was one extra thing that I could not handle.
I did try a few times because I felt like it was the thing I was supposed to do. I’m not sure if it’s society or other moms, but something makes us feel like we have to breastfeed and anything else is the lesser choice. So, I had my husband help me raise this teeny, tiny, fragile baby to my breast, and hold her in place. The end result was the baby screaming because she was hungry and didn’t know what to do. My husband ran to the kitchen to prepare a bottle as I tried not to have a panic attack. I felt like a failure as a mommy because I couldn’t give my baby milk from my body. This happened a few times, and then I decided that it was not worth it. It added an incredible amount of anxiety and stress to an already stressful situation.
Failing to Breastfeed My Twins Helped Me Stop Being Judgy
So why am I happy that I failed at breastfeeding my twins? Because it has opened up this whole new world of being a non-judgy mom. In complete, vulnerable honesty, being a judgy mom is something I struggle with. I didn’t even really know that I was judgy before, and I think that’s exactly the problem. When I heard of someone doing something different, my instinct was to correct them. To tell them how my babies thrived sleeping in their own crib or being sleep trained, or eating all organic food. I think it’s important that we acknowledge that this judgy mom lives inside of all of us (I am not the only one!). Acknowledge her, and then tell her she is not welcome anymore!
The Great Breastfeeding Debate
What do we do with breast is best versus fed is best debate? I know firsthand that the pressure to breastfeed can cause severe anxiety and depression in moms. Even innocent comments about breastfeeding or breast is best can place dangerous pressure and stress on moms who struggle with it. So please heed my empathic words and watch what you say; this coming from a mom who’s been on both sides.
- Don’t say breast is best. Please, just don’t.
- Don’t talk in a way that might be perceived as ‘bragging’ to other moms; your milk production, how you exclusively breastfed, etc.
- Do feed your baby in public, with or without a cover, whenever they are hungry. That is your right, and it is beautiful.
Bottle feeding moms:
- Don’t make breastfeeding moms feel uncomfortable to breastfeed in front of you
- Don’t say fed is best. I know that technically it includes breastfeeding, but it is the counter to breast is best. Let’s stop arguing about what is best and just feed our babies.
- Do feed your baby in whatever way is best for your family, and know in your heart that whatever decision you make is the best decision.
If I have another baby (when my hubby reads this sentence, he is going to have a panic attack!), I will try to breastfeed again. Not because I feel pressured to, but because it can be a beautiful thing when it works. And if it doesn’t, I’m gonna whip out my Dr. Browns with pride.
I’d love to hear your (nonjudgy!) thoughts. Did you struggle with breastfeeding? How did it make you feel?