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Twins due in 6 weeks - want to exclusively bf - any advice most welcome!

(36 Posts)
ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 08:41:50

Hello lovely ladies.

The twins will be my first DCs. My husband is very supportive of bf and I also have a friend who has successfully bfed all 3 of her dc's. My mum (who is absolutely lovely, and likely to be around a lot when the twins are born), while superficially supportive of my decision, wants me to get in bottles and formula 'just in case', which I am not going to do - I get the impression she thinks I am being stubborn and irresponsible. Am I right to stick to my guns? We have a 24 hr Tesco 15 minutes away!!

Also, I have PCOS. Don't know whether this can cause problems with bf but ordered some fenugreek which (according to some advice online) might help; what do you think?

Will almost certainly have c-section due to position of the babies. Will be requesting early skin to skin contact on birth plan.

My DH is wonderful and will be practically as well as emotionally supportive. He will be at home full time until I go back to work after a year and he will be SAHD. We plan that feeding will be my 'job' for the first weeks/ months and that I will mostly stay in bed! We will be sort-of co-sleeping - we have one of the cotbeds set up as a 'sidecar' so I can easily feed without getting up.

Any advice / tips / ideas most welcome! Many thanks for taking the time to read all this!

mrsrawlinson Fri 31-Jul-09 09:22:13

Ooh, you lucky thing, how exciting! Makes me feel all nostalgic for when mine were tiny!

My DTs were a bit prem and spent a couple of weeks in neo-natal. They couldn't suckle at first so I expressed and they had it through a tube in their noses. Then they gradually progressed onto sipping out of a cup, then onto a combination of breast and bottles of EBM. I think this early introduction to different methods of feeding did me a favour in the long run, as it meant that DH/GPs had the option of feeding the babies occasionally to give me a rest. I was producing gallons of milk so I always had some EBM in the freezer. I also gave them the odd bit of formula now and then so that if a situation ever arose where I couldn't BF them for some reason, FF wouldn't be too much of a shock to them. I never got the hang of BFing both together myself, but if you can I'd recommend it. In total I BF mine for about 15 mths, and for the most part it was fairly easy for me so I was very lucky. I certainly felt that BFing made life considerably easier for me, especially in the early days, but my advice to you would be to try and keep your options open a little. HTH.

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 09:31:08

Thanks Mrs R!
I also hope to be able to build up a stock of EBM so I can have a break every so often - I haven't bought a breast pump but I have arthritis (in remission now, but likely to flare up after the birth) so I think I will have to get an electric one. I like the look of the Medela swing, but wonder if I should get a double pump. Should I get a pump before they are born? Can you recommend one? My breasts are quite large, if that has any bearing on your recommendation!
Also, I had planned to try to not use EBM from a bottle till after 6 weeks - is this realistic? I guess flexibility is important!

sabire Fri 31-Jul-09 09:33:08

C&P'd this advice for you from a breastfeeding support yahoo group. I'm sure the author won't mind! She's a lactation consultant who also breastfed her own twins - for several years!

Good luck!

"Breastfeeding is the easiest part of caring for two babies at
once! So it's worthwhile getting it off to the best start. Would suggest:

1. Get personal, face-to-face help asap after the birth to ensure
that each baby separately can latch and suck effectively enough to
really "breastfeed". I don't think there's really any phone/email
substitute that can achieve this so well - it needs to be a person
who is very good at latching babies, and then teaching the mother how
to do it herself.
2. If each baby is not transferring enough milk, then
breastmilk-feed (pump or hand express) until he/she can. Caution
here is that babies will be born by C/sec, may be small, and may not
be competent - this is no-one's fault, but the possibility needs to
be recognized,
3. The MOST important aspect is not "breastfeeding" per se (which
can be learned by mother and babies really at any time - preferably
soon after birth, but not absolutely crucial) but the breastmilk
supply, which needs to be protected at all costs if the mother wants
to breastfeed two babies, and for six full months. In other words,
it is crucial not to sacrifice the fragility of the breastmilk SUPPLY
on the altar of breastFEEDING - a mother of twins needs all the milk
storage capacity she can get, and once breasts are permitted to
become engorged, the damage to the milk producing cells may be
irreparable. In practice, this means, that mother's breasts must
never be allowed to become overfull, and stay overfull - use one or
both babies to drain (if competent) or pump or manual expression (if not).
4. Once each baby can latch and feed fairly well, then mother can
and should attempt simultaneous breastfeeding asap. This will save
her hours of time and - most importantly - enable her to comfort two
babies at once in a way that is not possible by any other method!
5. Once babies can be fed simultaneously, consider feeding them in
the football/rugby hold with enough pillows under/around mum and
babies that she can do this hands-free - so that she has a pair of
hands available for the older child (handle toys. wipe nose,
pat/cuddle, feed etc) or to eat her own food etc. She needs a couch,
lots of pillows, and a coffee table placed in front for drinks,
snacks, toys, tissues, remote control on the TV, books, magazines,
mobile phone.... once you're plugged in, it's very hard to move two
babies without disturbing them, and especially waking them up after
feeding.... It is possible, however, to breastfeed two babies at
once and simultaneously cuddle an older child or play with him.
5. Get someone else to do all the housework! And the shopping!
6. Get husband to prepare meals and cut them up into bite-sized
pieces, bring drinks .....
7. I agree, consider NOT contacting TAMBA, who may not have many
successful BF mothers of twins on their books. Yes, Karen Gromada's
book is great. Email/phone contact later, for endless doses of
reassurance, and mother-support meetings if mum feels able to handle
the logistics of getting out with two babies and another toddler, can
be really helpful. Twin mothers have often seen friends struggling
to breastfeed even one baby, which really saps their confidence about
their own ability to breastfeed two.
8. The mother should follow her heart about their care, eg resist
all "advice" to artificially separate them, especially if they are
identical, unless it really "feels" right - allow them to feed
together, sleep together, play together if that keeps them
happier. This doesn't always mean treating each baby equally -
sometimes one will require more care/feeding, and later the other
one will, but I've observed that the older twins who fight the most,
and seem the least happy, are the ones whose mothers appeared to go
out of their way to foster so-called "individuality" right from the
beginning. They will morph into individuals eventually, in their own time.
8. Enjoy! Breastfeeding twins can be a life-changing experience,
for mothers and fathers, and for their relationship. Fathers often
rise to the challenge, helping more with two babies than with one,
since they can see that the need is so great.... And breastfeeding
twin toddlers is the most amazing thing - it can make their care so
much easier, and they tell you what they like about it too.

jellybeans Fri 31-Jul-09 09:42:15

I had a section and one of my babies in NICU. I was in high dependency for 3 days very ill but managed to feed one twin myself. My other twin had formula for 3 days (I was too poorly too express) until I was well enough to go see him. I soon managed to excl bf both. I found a v shape cushion invaluable and found feeding together easier. Can't realy help anymore but just wanted to offer encouragement that it is possible to bf even after awful birth. Congrats btw Twins are fab!

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 09:44:26

Thanks Sabire - that is really helpful. By the sound of it I need to get prepared with a breast pump before they arrive! I do have an EZ to nurse twins pillow, which I have heard can be useful. I also have Karen Gromada's book, though having not breastfed yet, some sections are a bit hard to get my head round. No doubt it will make more sense once the babies are here!

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 09:48:30

x-posts!Thanks also Jellybeans! I am really keen to tandem feed. Any tips to get them both latched on? Do you put them both on the cushion and then latch in turn, or pick one up at a time and latch on, then get someone to pass the second one? I am hoping to be able to feed lying down at night - what worked best for you? Did you lie flat/on your side or propped with lots of pillows?
Sorry for all the questions! I am very keen to benefit from all your collective experience! I'll be printing this thread out to refer to in times of need...

mrsrawlinson Fri 31-Jul-09 10:04:38

Well, ZippysMum, my DTs are nearly 7 now so the pumps that are about these days are probably all different, but if you have a quick search through MN I'm sure you'll be able to get some good up to date info. I'd certainly advise you to have your pump in place from day one though. The first few days is quite important in establishing your long term supply as I understand, so if you can stop yourself from getting too engorged by pumping then it's a big help. I'm currently expecting DC3 and my trusty pump is the first thing I shall be digging out of the attic. I shall also be clearing out a drawer in the freezer this time!

BTW, don't get too hung up on the simultaneous feeding thing. If you can get the hang of it that's great, but I never really minded not. In some ways it was nice to have some 'individual' time to bond with each of my lovely babies on their own. Either way is good, really.

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 10:43:41

Thanks again Mrs R. Looks like the Aveda lactaline is highly recommended and I'll get onto that soon. Also good to hear that the tandem feeding isn't an 'essential' - just saw myself feeding 24/7 if I don't crack it!

mrsrawlinson Fri 31-Jul-09 11:42:16

I won't lie to you, you might have days where you feel like tying a bell round your neck and calling yourself Daisy. It's worth it though!

Best of luck.

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 14:02:03

Thanks! grin

NorthernMoose Fri 31-Jul-09 14:32:36

I don't have twins but when I had my first DC, my midwife insisted I buy a pump straight away (I'd decided to hold off to be sure I got the hang of BF nefore shelling out on one!). Her reasoning was that the pumps get your nipples into the perfect feeding 'shape', so if you pump a few time before latching baby on, it'll encourage them to position their mouth & tongue correctly so as to help establish feeding as easily as possible.
Not sure whether it was that that worked, but I did this on both my dds, and found things got established very easily so it may well have helped some!
Good luck with the twins x

muffle Fri 31-Jul-09 14:42:09

I don't have twins but just a suggestion - we could never get DS to take a bottle so I couldn't express and leave him with anyone else, or have DP get up in the night instead of me, until I stopped BF. A midwife in hospital had told me that if I wanted to express and bottle-feed, to start early, in the first couple of weeks, to get the baby used to it. I ignored her! And by the time we tried it DS just refused - he was used to the breast. I don't know how right she was about getting it in early - but it may be worth taking note of. Being able to hand one twin over to someone else have expressed milk might be a great help.

Congratulations btw and good luck with everything.

ZippysMum Fri 31-Jul-09 16:56:02

Thanks NorthernMoose and Muffle. Our NCT lady suggested not using bottles at all for 6 weeks to get bf established (at least that's what I thought she said...), but reading on here it seems that if you leave it till then, they won't take one at all!! Your story, Muffle, seems the reinforce that...
Looks like I maybe ought to get some bottles in, like my Mum says..!

muffle Fri 31-Jul-09 17:02:23

I suppose it depends if BF is going well and is routine. If it is, then start bottles early, but if it takes longer to settle down, you might want to leave it longer in case they get more used to bottles IYSWIM.

Andanotherthing Fri 31-Jul-09 21:45:24

Congrats on your twins! Mine are 4.5 mths old now and still managing to bf them!

I have never managed to tandem feed, but I think if you can master it it would be a great time saver!

I have fed mine separately, and have always made sure I feed one straight after the other (Even if I have to wake one up), making sure they swap sides. I found that at night this meant that I could feed and change them (Took about 1 hour for both at first), and then get a couple of hours sleep until they woke again. When I tried to feed them as and when they woke up I found I hardly ever got an hour in a row!

I found a bouncy/rocking chair was helpful so that I could rock one baby with my foot whilst feeding the other. (And reading to my 3 year old at the same time!).

I tried to express but found it difficult to find the time with a 3 year old as well, but I think it would be worthful having a couple of bottles so that you can get some rest.

Always have a glass of water and some food when you sit down to feed as sometimes it seems to take ages and it's difficult to get up and get anything!

Hope it all goes well for you - I found the first few weeks hard work (Worth every minute, of course!), but just do whatever works best for you and your babies!

Good Luck!!

dairymoo Fri 31-Jul-09 22:08:43

First of all, congratulations on your twin pregnancy! smile

My DTs are almost 2 now and I BF exclusively for 6 months and carried on until they were 19 months. It's fantastic to hear that you are really preparing yourself for their arrival, as I felt that having a little bit of knowledge (although no practical experience) did help me to shrug off some of the less helpful 'be realistic'-type comments from well-meaning, but ill-informed MWs. It is perfectly possible to feed twins, your body grew them after all, but it does take a lot of sofa time establishing supply...which is all the more reason to lay off the housework and keep a constant supply of (preferably chocolate-covered) snacks on hand.

Mine were in SCBU for 10 days and so I had to express loads, which I think consequently meant that I never wanted to see a pump once we finally got home. I also felt that I would probably wake up if my DH tried to bottle feed them (my hungry babies were LOUD) and so I might as well do it myself.

It's great that your DH is supportive as that was one of the key things in me keeping on going for so long. My DH got up for every single night feed and passed me the babies/changed nappies/put them back to bed until they slept through. He was a real star. Also kept me motivated when I was desperately tired in the middle of a growth spurt.

I always fed mine at the same time, mainly due to laziness I think grin and I used the rugby ball hold and my trusty v-pillow, never really managed with anything other position.

FWIW, I never kept bottles and/or formula at home as I was pretty bloody-minded that I was going to succeed at BF and so really didn't see the need. Stick to your guns! grin

Good luck!

ZippysMum Sat 01-Aug-09 06:57:11

Thanks andanotherthing and dairymoo. Both your posts are really useful and food for thought! Great how many mums have successfully fed DTs.

OliviaCaroline Sat 01-Aug-09 20:30:14

My name is Alex and i am breastfeeding my twin girls, they are now three months old. My advice is to get a really good breastfeeding councillor lined up in case you need her.. If necessary you can get her to come to the hospital to help you as the help I got in hospital wasn't that great. Go for word of mouth and make sure you have their number. You absolutely can produce enough milk!!!! Eat A LOT of food. Loads of protein etc and make sure you sleep every spare second. My husband fed me and I just dug in and pumped and they practiced nursing and we got there. You absolutely can do it, for me it took time for usall to learn how - but that's ok. It doesn't have to happen immediently. Now my girls can nurse it's great - it was definitely worth it! Also get a breast feeding councillor to show you how to latch and feed two babies at once. There are a variety of holds and positions to make it easy. Good luck!

ZippysMum Sun 02-Aug-09 16:26:04

Hi Alex,
Thanks for the advice. I am seeing the health visitor this week so will ask to see a bf consultant before the twins are born, hopefully. I have put on LOADS of weight during this pg (about 4 1/2 st), so I am hoping bf will help me lose it! I guess if I eat healthily I should lose it soon enough [hopeful emoticon]...

dairymoo Mon 03-Aug-09 20:54:34

I found that I honestly could not keep weight on when I was BF, and went down to a very, very skinny 7.5 stone at one point (was 9 pre-preg) - so yes, don't worry about weight now as it slid off literally as soon as the babies were out! I got to eat sooooo much chocolate! All the more reason to persevere, eh? grin

bdoing Mon 03-Aug-09 21:20:19

Hiya - yep it is possible to exclusively breastfeed twins! I am at week ten, some of it has been hell, some of it not. Sticking with it though. I almost always tandem feed, have a relatively normal life, but going on outings is a bit difficult, can really only be done with a helper if a feed is going to be necessary. Tend to take a bottle of frozen EBM for that, but feed individually if they are both calm. Other than that, tandem feeding on my own during the week with no probs. Have great pillows which work like bean bags, so they are very secure int ehm (so I can eat and drink whilst feeding!) My main warning would be that you might be surprised at your own emotions about bfing, I didn't expect it to be hard - it really has been - and yep, you feel like a milking cow a lot of the time with two constantly attached, which really isn't great. One of my tactics is to feed one expressed bottle feed a day at least - just for my sanity. I eat non stop and have shed all the pregnanacy weight. Get help if you need it but it is hard to find, don't expect any from your hospital - they think no-one breastfeeds twins. Be careful about blocked ducts and thrush! Really recommend you get a pump though, best investment I ever made (just a single one, timesaving wasn't worth the huge extra cost to me). Official line is I think not to introduce a bottle before 4 weeks, mine were given formula at the hospital (all a bit bizarre) and we didn't get bfing up and running til about day 7 or 8 - but no formula since then. No big probs with latching once they got going. My milk didn't come down til day 5 or 6 (partly c-section, partly big bleed) but once it came! Hope that's of some use.

ZippysMum Mon 03-Aug-09 23:00:11

bdoing - which breast pump do you have? I think I will try to get one before the twins are born - I was thinking of the lactaline.
Glad to hear theweight fell off, and for you too, dairymoo - I am so hoping that the same will happen for me!

Mon13 Tue 04-Aug-09 13:33:59

Congratulations and hope all goes well with the birth!
I would advise you to keep an open mind though on the breastfeeding because you never know how things go. I was very motivated to breastfeed and made a good start, then dd had to go to hospital for light therapy for jaundice when she was only a few days old. She was on two hourly feeds, I tried to express just as often - all this after a long labour and hardly any sleep for a week. My milk simply dried up due to exhaustion and she had to be switched to formula. I beat myself up over this for weeks and weeks and ended up with postnatal depression... Dd meanwhile was and is perfectly fine.
Not saying you won't succeed but please don't feel terrible if things don't work out as well as you hope, okay? And good luck, enjoy the twins!!

ZippysMum Wed 05-Aug-09 17:56:39

Thanks so much everyone.

Mon13 point taken - like you, I am keen but I know sometimes circumstances conspire against us! I'm trying for a 'gung ho but realistic' attitude and I guess I'll take whatever the situation throws at me!

Saw the HV today and she was really lovely - I will get to meet the local BF consultant (who has 5 yr old twins that she bf till - well, the HV said 'recently')... before I give birth and also she will see me in the hospital and then provide ongoing support.

I have been very impressed so far by the local midwife and HV support - nearly as good as that on MumsNet!! grin Thanks again for taking the time to answer.

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