Breastfeeding Twins and multiples: The struggle is real.
My biggest struggle when I had my twins was breastfeeding.
As a doting mom, I truly wanted to solely breastfeed my children for over a year as the books say. I tried really hard to follow the advice given in the books, but as hard as I tried; breastfeeding remained extremely challenging. Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined it being so tough and nerve wrecking. Nonetheless, it was experience that taught me a lot about motherhood, myself and my twins.
I’ll admit, I never really got the hang of it, my daughter just couldn’t latch onto my breast and my son experienced severe breakouts as soon as the milk touched his skin.
Nevertheless, I kept trying to find better ways because I knew how meaningful breastfeeding my babies were. As a mother, I almost felt compelled to do so and when I couldn’t I felt guilty and like a complete failure. As time passed by, I learned that I wasn’t the only one suffering and that there were other moms out there suffering just like me. That’s why in today’s post we are going to discuss this breastfeeding issue and talk the impact it can have on you, your babies and your entire family.
But before we start let’s debunk the “breastfeeding twins and multiples is fun” myth. No, it is not fun, it is not a world of unicorns and rainbows…. it is sleepless nights, crying babies, unfilled tummies, and bored babies who go on a breastfeeding strike. There is nothing romantic about breastfeeding twins or multiples.
So, now that’s out of the way; let’s continue with the importance of breastfeeding.
Breast is best; this is a message every new mom receives continuously during her pregnancy. Every mother knows how incredibly beneficial and nutritious breast milk is. We also know that it is what the child needs the most to grow and stay healthy. Overall, nursing your baby is special and a privileged only us woman can enjoy.
Common challenges with breastfeeding twins
But breastfeeding is not so enjoyable for every woman. In many cases successfully breastfeeding multiple babies can be very difficult. The pressure to nurse can be debilitating especially when you’re sleep deprived, tired and hormonal.
Many books and doctors insist that successful breastfeeding depends on a simple principle of supply and demand. The more a baby or babies feed, the more milk their mother will produce. Yet, we encounter countless mothers struggling with producing enough milk.
Here are some challenges women faces when trying to breastfeed twins:
I know, not very often are we supposed to say how emotionally draining it is to nurse two or more babies. But I’m going to say it anyway. Nursing twins or multiples is not easy. My daughter never took my breasts; my son did so I had to express milk for her. I felt a lot of guilt and pressure on me and for the longest; I blamed myself for her not latching on. It was difficult but I ended up expressing for her and occasionally fed her soya milk formula.
As soon as I delivered my twins, the lactation nurse rushed to my room to teach me tandem feeding. At first, I was excited because all the books said it was the best way of nursing twins. Little did I know how much I would grow to hate it along the way! It was almost impossible to position the babies correctly by myself. The only time I could get it right was when another adult was present.
Even with a feeding pillow, I would occasionally have my son latched to the breast while my daughter was totally not interested. It was a complete struggle. One can only imagine how insanely frustrating this is.
This is every mother’s nightmare. Not being able to provide the needed amount of breast milk your twins or multiples need is extremely frustrating. No mother wants to mess with her child’s nutritional demands.
Nonetheless, many mothers of twins do report that they do not produce enough milk to optimally feed both babies. In this case, it is best to get help from a lactation consultant.
An hours-long practice
Twin breastfeeding can take up many hours. It is common for breastfeeding mothers of twins to say they don’t feel as if they are doing anything else other than breastfeeding, especially in the first few months.
Holding while breastfeeding
Sometimes when multiples are very young, it can be easy to breastfeed with a breastfeeding pillow but when they grow a little older, breastfeeding can become a challenge. Holding their heads together while latching might cause lots of distress in the arms especially if they react constantly to their environment.
Allergies and feeding difficulties
Watching your child struggle with breast is quite daunting for a mother. A lot of babies do experience some form of feeding difficulty during breastfeeding – it might be nipple confusion, difficulty with sucking and swallowing or allergies.
My son loved to breastfeed, but as soon as the breast milk touched him, it caused his skin to break out. Of course, as a mother, I was devastated but the doctor reassured me to take extra precaution to avoid any contact of breastmilk with his delicate skin.
Deciding what works
Every mother and her twins are unique. For some, synchronizing the babies breastfeeding behavior works best and for others feeding them separately is a more realistic option. It can take a while for a mother to find out what works best, so be patient and gentle with yourself. Do not worry too much and give yourself ample time to observe and get to know your babies better.
Picture credit to: The Divine Goat