While the reality of “pregnant with twins” changed some of my plans and expectations, it did not change the goal of breastfeeding. In the middle of my pregnancy I started to familiarize myself with breastfeeding. I read up on breastfeeding twins–from the technical aspects (which didn’t make much sense to me having never breastfed) to the health implications, especially for twins who could very well be premature. I found a lactation consultant who had coincidentally breastfed twins herself! I took a lactation class. While it didn’t really prepare me, it continued to familiarize me with breastfeeding and inspire me–I could do this, right!? I connected with La Leche League, an international organization which educates and supports breastfeeding. Here is a link about nursing twins on their site: breastfeedng twins FAQ
Suddenly breastfeeding becomes something to consider, like anything else, and in reality, most of us have not had much exposure to breastfeeding moms. Yet, we’re expected to know and understand it because it is “natural.” Nursing my babies was an important goal, yet I had ZERO experience with other women nursing their children. I wanted to nurse because it was a much healthier option, a way to be intimate with my 2 babies, and essentially free! So, familiarizingmyself with the culture of breastfeeding was extremely important…it gave me a sense of what was to come. Of course, nothing can ultimately prepare you for what is to come! You have to imagine it and see it working out positively and then just wait for that moment when your baby/babies come around and you give it a try! Having a supportive and informed spouse there by your side is also essential.
Once you start breastfeeding, it is important to maintain the support so that you can reach your goals. My first goal was to see where it would go as long as I could, maybe a few months. That changed into 6 months and then a year. In the early months, I found it inspiring to remember that all they really need is to have a few basic needs met. In the beginning it is all about being close and feeding them. Oh and a few diapers! Nursing them does 2 in 1 easily & with twins, at the same time! Holding, loving and feeding! No bottles to clean up later.
I found going to La Leche League meetings extremely helpful. Those first few months, most of what I did was nurse two babies every 3 hours! To sit around with a group of nursing or experienced nursing women and nurse was soooo nice. It normalized the whole experience and felt wonderful to connect with other nursing moms, along all various stages.
- Information ~ books, class, La Leche League meeting calendar
- Lactation consultant ~ I recommend connecting with a consultant before you have your baby/babies either through a class or call. This way, when you need her, you already know her and she knows you!
- A nursing set-up ~ I did get a twin nursing pillow (very helpful), nursing tank and bra or two…Since you don’t know what size you will be after birth, I found a couple nursing tanks really useful. In the end, I just wore my regular tank tops and just slipped a side down…
- A pump and the accessories ~ I rented mine from the consultant. Since I was really motivated, I wanted to have the pump at the hospital to pump if the girls didn’t nurse right away. Both did within an hour of their birth and I still pumped hoping to bring my milk in faster, which it did!
- Support ~ Breastfeeding is demanding, challenging, and new! It is also hard to continue in the face of “easier” options like formula. Having your partner be involved and supportive (in the education and importance) of it will help.
- Forgiveness/Sense of humor ~ Since breastfeeding is demanding and most of us experience our share of tears and frustration, it is very helpful if you can be easy on yourself as much as possible. I had to have someone help me with this!
There’s more to write on this topic for sure. I am so grateful I nursed as long as I did and really, it goes by so fast! Now I have 2 year olds and it seems like forever-ago that I nursed them! I wanted to continue after a year, but faced some problems and had to be realistic about the quality of my life and their life. It was time to move on. It was a really beautiful and special time that I shared with my girls and my husband. I wouldn’t change anything about those sleepless nights or demanding days…and that is the truth.