August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week; and Des Moines Moms Blog is joining people in more than 170 countries in the celebration. We are pleased to bring you a series of posts this week on the topic of breastfeeding, each one coming from a different perspective. If you are just tuning in, be sure to check out the other posts in this series here.
Breastfeeding may be the “natural” choice, but that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally….
I successfully breastfed my firstborn, but I would say that the two of us never got it quite right. We did okay, but we could have done better. I realized that when my second baby came along and made breastfeeding a breeze from the very first latch. I could nurse her in any setting and in any position. Her feeding times were always painless, peaceful, easy, and efficient; and she made me feel like a breastfeeding pro.
And I kind of WAS a pro. Having successfully nursed two babies, I had the breastfeeding thing down… or at least that’s what I thought until I found out I’d be nursing another two babies—twins, that is…. Suddenly, I was back at square one. I would have to learn how to breastfeed all over again, because this time I’d be breastfeeding two at a time.
It’s funny. I remember a conversation I had with an “elder” twin mommy. Already a mother of twins, she was pregnant with her first singleton; and I, a mother of two singletons, was pregnant with my twins. I approached her in the church nursery one day to let her know that I may need some tips from her on how to breastfeed twins. She was more than happy to be a resource to me, of course; but I’ll never forget when she sincerely replied, “And I may need some tips from you on how to breastfeed a singleton.”
Truly, breastfeeding twins is a whole different ball game than breastfeeding a singleton; and the obvious truth of that is sometimes enough to scare expectant twin mommies away from thinking it can be done. But as April Rudat’s helpful book is titled, Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins!
Oh yes I DID breastfeed twins—for 14 months—but not without a lot of brainstorming and planning. Everything from the setup of the nursery to travelling to going into public places required me to think ahead about how my need to breastfeed twins could be best accommodated.
Here are some of the things I had to take into consideration:
1. Boppy pillows and rocker gliders don’t work.
They aren’t wide enough. That’s why I put a love seat in my nursery and took my twin nursing pillow with me everywhere I went… even to the Iowa State Fair.
2. Covering up isn’t an option.
If getting a singleton latched on underneath a cute little cover-up is awkward, getting TWO babies latched on underneath a cover-up is impossible. First of all, those covers aren’t wide enough; and second of all, I didn’t have that many hands. Situating and securing one large pillow, two hungry babies, and one momma’s t-shirt and nursing bra was truly all my hands, elbows, forearms, and chin could juggle… which is why I pretty much stayed in the privacy of my home for the first year of my twins’ lives.
3. Feeding in public requires planning ahead.
Because of my inability to cover myself up while nursing twins (and my desire to NOT flash everyone in the area), I had to either stay home (as I said in #2) or make different provisions when staying home wasn’t an option. In church, for example, I nursed my babies one at a time so that I could cover up. (This required the help of my husband “holding off” one hungry baby while I fed the other.) When making the six-hour trip alone with my kids to visit my parents, I had to carefully plan my stops ahead of time according to where I had the best chance of finding some privacy.
4. Breastfeeding always requires hard work, but breastfeeding twins is a JOB.
There is no such thing as snuggling in and getting comfortable for a feeding session when you’re nursing two babies at once. It’s an all-in, hands-full, sit-up-and-pay-attention JOB. There’s a whole strategic setup process that includes positioning a baby on each side of where you’ll be sitting, strapping on the twin nursing pillow, sitting down and baring your breasts, and then moving each baby to the pillow to feed. There is only one sitting position that works: back erect, feet flat on the floor, legs firm, and arms bracing. It’s enjoyable, yes, but it’s also a get-in-and-get-it-done kind of thing.
Despite the learning curve, I re-attained my self-given title of “breastfeeding pro”—this time of TWINS—but it wasn’t without the loving support of my husband, family, and friends; the determination and confidence I had in myself; the feeding log I kept for the duration of breastfeeding; and the intentional drinking of LOTS of water.