As you read about my experience with breast-feeding my twins, you might wonder “Why didn’t you just quit?” The answer is “I don’t know.” I never thought of bottle-feeding as an option—not because I have anything against formula or bottles, I just always knew I wanted to nurse.
I’ve always read that breast-feeding is so good for your kids, and I wanted my kids to have all of the good stuff I could give them. I also looked at it as bonding time with the babies. Since there were two, I didn’t want either one to feel they were getting only half of my attention.
I loved my experience nursing twins, even though it was rough in the beginning. I hope to have more children and plan on nursing them as well. Every baby is different, though, so you have to find what works best for you.
Learning the Ropes
In the recovery room at the hospital, I put my daughter, Taylor, to my chest to try nursing. Then I did the same with my son, TJ. I figured we were doing it the right way, but what first-time mom really knows the “right” way to nurse an infant?
That first night, we sent the babies to the nursery and asked the staff to bring them back to nurse when they were hungry. I still wasn’t making any milk, so each time the babies were brought back into the room, I was putting them on but obviously wasn’t satisfying anyone.
In the morning, I was so exhausted my husband and I decided that the babies were going to sleep in the nursery for the next three nights. We told the nurses to bottle-feed them formula if they needed it. I requested a breast pump to see if that would help my milk come in faster. It didn’t.
Pushing Through the Pain
My milk came in on day 5, the day we got home from the hospital. And boy did my milk come in. I made a lot of milk, and I had a Niagara Falls let down. From the beginning, we were on a schedule of eating upon waking. The babies also nursed after each of their two naps and before going to bed. Night feedings were at 2:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
I didn’t realize how badly nursing was going to hurt. After five days of letting the babies nurse with no milk and my daughter not getting a good latch, my nipples felt as if they had been scraped on cement. I cried, wondering what I was doing wrong. I was using the creams, the gel nursing pad, and ice, and I was diligent about taking the ibuprofen I was prescribed for the C-section recovery. The first few days home from the hospital were hard because my breasts hurt so badly.
TJ was a hard and fast sucker who took five minutes to feed. Taylor, on the other hand, had trouble because she was “tongue-tied,” which meant she had a piece of skin attached from the floor of her mouth to the end of her tongue. For the first week whenever she ate, my milk would let down, she would choke, and the milk would come out her nose every 30 seconds. It took a long time to feed her.
The doctor had told us tongue tie sometimes causes problems with nursing and with speech but that the extra skin, the frenulum, could be cut by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor. We called the ENT right away and got Taylor in for a frenulum snip.
I also made an appointment with the best lactation consultant in town. She said both of the babies were tongue-tied and that Taylor’s frenulum was not cut enough. I immediately made appointments to get them both cut, Taylor for the second time. Other than that, she said I was doing everything right. But it still hurt.
It Gets Easier
At two weeks, Taylor was still choking on my let down but was getting better. Both she and TJ were gaining a pound a week, so I knew they were getting enough milk.
I joined a breast-feeding support group at the hospital when the twins were 10 days old. No one knew why it was still hurting, but it was comforting being surrounded by moms who had done it and were still nursing their older babies.
As time went on, nursing got easier. I nursed the babies individually in the beginning unless I had someone to hand them to me while I was strapped into the EZ-2-Nurse pillow. I started to tandem nurse them all the time when they were six weeks old. My mom basically told me that if I didn’t, I would be nursing all day every day. But I continued to feed them individually at the 2:30 a.m. feeding.
By the third month, the nipple pain had finally subsided, and I was glad I was nursing and not bottle-feeding. It was so easy to leave the house with the babies and not have to bring any sort of feeding paraphernalia except my nursing cover. While out of the house, it was easiest to nurse individually. Around this time, the two night feedings turned into one 4:00 a.m. feeding.
When the babies got better head and body control around 8 months, it became super easy to tandem nurse because they just crawled up to me and made themselves comfortable. I didn’t have to position their heads and bodies like in the beginning.
I only pumped when I missed a feeding. My son would take anything from anyone, but my daughter refused to take a bottle of breast milk or formula. She would always skip the feeding when I was away. I would feed her upon my return so that she wouldn’t wake up hungry in the night.
It Becomes About Comfort
When I tell people I nursed until the babies were 21 and 22 months old, I get crazy looks. Looks that say, “But they talk!” and “They have teeth!”—the same looks I used to give people who nursed for a long time. What people don’t understand is that as babies grow and start eating food, they nurse less and it becomes more about comfort than nourishment. I wasn’t whipping out my boob for my walking, talking twins in the middle of the grocery store!
When the babies dropped to one nap at 18 months, they lost a feeding. Then the before-bedtime feeding dropped off, followed by the remaining after-nap feeding. Eventually, they were just nursing in the mornings when they woke up.
TJ lost interest in breast-feeding at 21 months because he would rather read books in the mornings while I nursed Taylor. Shortly after that, I went on vacation for four days. I didn’t pump while I was away, and Taylor didn’t ask for it when I got home. That’s when I felt it was time to stop nursing.
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