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breastfeeding twins

(21 Posts)
Nancy54 Wed 12-Sep-12 09:25:37

hi everyone, me again! (i seem to be constantly posting questions for you!)

i am hoping to breastfeed my twins and was just wondering at what point you started giving them expressed milk in a bottle?

my mw said not to give them a bottle for at least the first month as you need to get well established with the breastfeeding and if they have a bottle they may reject the breast.

then, a friend told me yesterday not to introduce bottle for three months at least! seems quite a long time as i'm hoping dp will be able to help with feeds!

when (if you did) did you start using a bottle with your dts?


Celestia Wed 12-Sep-12 10:07:42

I've not had my twins yet but I can tell you what I did with my dd.

They recommend not to introduce a bottle too early for a couple of reasons: it can interfere with your supply while it's becoming established; baby can get confused between the nipple and a teat. It's easier to extract milk from a bottle than the breast so baby can get fed up and tired when they return to the breast.

On the flip side, if you leave it as long as 3/4 months, you may find your baby won't accept a bottle and you've missed the opportunity!

Personally, I started expressing when dd was 2 weeks old. We were lucky that we didn't run into any problems.

ClaireMarathonFeeder Wed 12-Sep-12 13:31:58

Hello, we did mixed feeding right from the start, it was a forced choice really.
In our case it didn't cause any confusion and I have been able to slowly reduce the top ups over time to the pount that dtg refuses the bottle nowhmm

BUT I've always had abundant supply (2 older kids), and I always made sure they were put on the breast as much as possible, except when they feeding at the same time. (cant tandem feed).

I think normally breastfeeding is considered "established" around 6 weeks, so after that should be a good time to introduce bottles.

Hth and huge congrats!!

Randomkath Wed 12-Sep-12 13:39:01

I don't think your midwife is being realistic. The first 6-8 weeks breastfeeding twins are really tough, so you just have do what you need to do in order to get though it. You're much more likely to stay sane and to be successfull breastfeeding in some shape or form in the longer term if you don't put too much pressure on yourself to exclusively bf. If this means giving some bottles in the early days in order to share the load and get some sleep then do it. If your babies are small you might also be advised to give them 3 hourly bottle top ups after every feed for the first couple of weeks, as babies loose a bit of weight initially and they don't want to drop too much. You can get special teats by medela that are supposed to mimic the nipple sucking action and reduce confusion.

I was told its important to breastfeed in the early hours of the morning (3-4am) as this stimulates your milk supply for the next day, but I couldn't hack a lengthy feed at this time, so got on the double pump for 10 mins whilst my husband changed nappies then we bottle fed one each. Could get them changed fed and settled in about 30 mins. Did this for about 6 weeks, then found we had got the hang of bf and I could just feed them myself in the same sort of time.

We also gave them a bottle late evening as they would want to feed constantly from about 5pm getting more and more unsettled, so this would top them up and they would then sleep for about 3-4 hours. Meant I could also go to bed early and husband could feed them. I tried to find time to express in the day for this bottle but if I hadn't gave formula. Again found the feeding frenzies calmed down so this wasn't necessary after about 8 weeks.

They had the odd bottle of formula after this, but mostly breastfed until about 8 months.

I found tandem feeding really useful for the first few weeks, but once we got into the swing of things i could feed them individually in about 10-15 mins each so didn't need to.

Everyone and every baby is different though, so you won't really know what will work for you until they arrive. I would find yourself a good breast feeding counsellor to advise you on how to tandem feed and express/mix feed in the best way to suit your situation and manage your milk supply.

Nancy54 Thu 13-Sep-12 09:37:19

thanks guys, it's really useful to read about your experiences.

kath - i think you're right, i won't know what's gonna work until it happens!!! have bought some bottles and a steriliser so that if i need to bottle feed from the start, i've got the stuff in to do so!

It's gonna be a rollercoaster i think!

DreamingOfPeace Thu 13-Sep-12 19:44:08

I have made it to 23 weeks ebf and now neither will take a bottle though i practiced that with ebm from 2 weeks . It was tough though, and in hindsight, I think 'giving in' and giving a bottle might have made it a bit more enjoyable.

So just to say, if you're pig headedly determined to ebf while getting no sleep and the hv and even lactation consultant suggest a bottle you can do it, but no shame on you if not!

Good luck.

DreamingOfPeace Thu 13-Sep-12 19:47:19

That makes me sound like a martyr, I'm not, but i ebf my DD and expected it to just be a bit harder with two, whereas in fact its been a lot harder. At least partly due to an 18 month (now 2!) year old too. Expect to do nothing but feed in the first weeks, but a bottle made no difference to my better feeders latch, but did affect my worse feeders. Hence why I stopped doing bottles and now they won't!

NellyJob Thu 13-Sep-12 19:47:59

I did mixed feeding from the start, on the (whispered) advice of a MW, people who are telling you not to introduce a bottle until 3 months probably have no idea of the reality of it.

NellyJob Thu 13-Sep-12 19:48:53

I mean you would just be breastfeeding all day and night tbh

NotTooBusyForChocolate Thu 13-Sep-12 19:56:53

Hello Nancy54, You seem to have a really pragmatic approach which is wonderful. Good for you.

With multiples especially, you just have no idea what will happen. my twins were babies 3 and 4 and after exclusively breastfeeding my first 2, I imagined I would be breastfeeding my next 2 (probably with the odd bottle).

Pregnancy was complicated and they came out at 34 weeks, were tube fed and although did learn to breastfeed didn't have the power to take a full feed, they started on expressed milk from a bottle at 3 weeks.

Anyway, I digress. You hear a lot about 'nipple confusion' even from very experienced midwives, I don't want to argue with them, they know all the theory, but anecdotally including my own, it never seems to be a problem. My babies would take whichever type of nipple/teat was offered, and within 2 sucks figure what they had.

How far along are you? Oh and in case I haven't already mentioned, twins are marvellous and I mean really really bloody fantastic. I miss my newborn twins cuddling together in their bassinette... <then remembers the poo-y nappy mountains and shuts up>

LaVitaBellissima Thu 13-Sep-12 20:03:08

Mine were born born at 34&3 and were very sleepy, I would offer BF but they would take a few slurps and fall asleep again, we had to top up with expressed milk or formula (until my supply increased) but we literally had to squirt it down their necks. After 2 weeks of these top up I exclusively BF in the beginning I'd express once so I could go to bed at 9pm and DP could do the 11pm feed, helped with the sleep. I then got lazy about expressing as it was easier to BF, then when I tried again they refused the bottle, so from my experience, 1 bottle a day is a good idea.
I BF for 12 months btw, good luck smile

rednellie Fri 14-Sep-12 02:04:37

I've ebf my two from the start and that's worked fine for me as I'm a lazy bugger and couldn't be bothered with the faff of expressing etc. However I've got lots of twin mum mates who have and have done so with no problems. I think basically, do what works for you and yourffamily and as long as they're putting on weight, you're doing perfectly well. Good luck!

MamaChocoholic Fri 14-Sep-12 07:44:51

I just bf. After ds1 (not a twin) was born, he was in nicu then tube fed for a week. My memories of trying to pump to schedule, tube feed, and attempt bf in between, getting max 1 hours sleep in every 3 are so horrendous that I couldn't imagine doing it with twins. Depends on your personality, but for me a good tandem feeding pillow meant I could just sit on the sofa and feed without the faff of pumping or steralising. I think twins are exhausting the first few months however you do it. Just go with what suits you, but do get good bf advice from a bf counsellor to make sure you introduce a bottle in a way that doesnt mess with your supply.

Nancy54 Fri 14-Sep-12 08:46:25

thanks everyone! i suppose it just goes to show that everyone's experience is different.

I'll let you know how i get on - i'm due to be induced a week today! shock

superbean Fri 14-Sep-12 16:52:02

oohhhh good luck! Like some of the others, formula was kind of "forced" on us as on day 4 the hospital weighed my daughter and she'd lost 10.1% of her bodyweight. I was told we could go home as long as we offered them formula (40ml through a syringe) afted I'd fed them. Tbh was a pain in the backside as it took ages and mine were slow feeders so we seemed to be feeding for over an hour every three hours in the beginning.

Anyway, the first few weeks were, in hindsight, shocking. I was desperate to "up" my supply so that I could eventually also give them expressed milk in a bottle so I was permanently either breast feeding or expressing. By about week 6 I had enough milk that I could express and they took to a bottle fine. It was all very well the NCT telling me I could tandem feed in public but I found this completely unrealistic as for me it involved full frontal exposure and pillows either side of me (tried that in your local Costa anyone?) so the fact they would take a bottle meant I could leave the house once in a while and someone else could give one of them a bottle (or I could) while I breastfeeding the other in a public place.

As someone else said, I think you shouldn't put yourself under too much pressure. In the end I breastfed them for 9 months, with them each having just one bottle of formula a day. On the plus side, I have two beautiful, seemingly healthy children, it was easier for me at night, and I was the slimmest I have ever been (sadly this is no longer the case). It also feels like quite an achievement. On the downside, I think perhaps I didn't really get to enjoy the early days as much as I would have liked, it was hard to get out, my boobs were ENORMOUS, and frankly I felt like a one woman feeding machine for a long time. Basically I'd just say that there really are pros and cons to all the options, and you need to think of yourself as much as them.

All the best!

Mandy21 Fri 14-Sep-12 19:21:30

My twins were Number 1 and 2 - hadn't really thought about how I'd feed them until they arrived a little bit early and I was advised / helped to breastfeed them.

Couple of things - from the very early days in hospital, I didn't have very big nipples and they didn't have a particularly strong sucking reflex so one midwife suggested nipple shields (they have a long teat). Couple of other midwives said it wouldn't help and they'd struggled to go back to feeding without them. Used them for about 6 weeks till the babies were bigger, just stopped using them and the babies latched fine.

They had a bottle for the first time at about 3 months old, I got mastitis and just couldn't bear to feed them - had a store of EBM from when I'd been in NICU with them so we used some of that. Both had been exclusively breast fed until that point, both took an EBM bottle absolutely no problem.

Thought on that basis that the transition from breast to bottle wouldn't be a problem but was quite happy b/feeding so didn't try again until they were over 6 months. Tried to give them bottles at that stage and they just refused - tried every combination of bottle & teat on the market and after about 3 weeks of perseverence, they eventually took a bottle. We were just doing one feed per day with EBM at that stage, b/f the rest of the time. Gradually reduced the amount of b/fs they were having and stopped at 11 months (when DS started biting me!!)

So, 3 years later, had Number 3. Still wanted her to be b/f / have EBM so expressed right from the start, think we gave her a bottle when she was about 3 weeks. DH gave her one in the night every other day or so, so I could get a better sleep. Absolutely no problem whatsoever with rejecting breast or anything like that.

Randomkath Fri 14-Sep-12 20:57:36

Ha ha superbean. I never found a discrete way to tandem feed either. Remember the feeling of being a milk machine, stuck on the sofa with my boobs (I miss my big boobs!) out pretty much constantly!

Nancy - best of luck, bf twins is hard work but remember it does get easier and a happy mum is really important, so make sure you take care of yourself and enjoy your babies!

Nancy54 Mon 17-Sep-12 19:21:45

thanks for the advice, bean, mandy and kath.

Bean - at what point of the day did you give them their bottle of formula - in the evening?

Beamae Mon 17-Sep-12 19:27:58

Didn't get a choice. The girls came at 34 weeks, went straight to SCBU and the requirement for their being discharged was to drink from a bottle. One ended up liking breastfeeding, the other didn't and always had to be forced but they flipped quite easily between breast and bottle.

TwelveLeggedWalk Tue 18-Sep-12 17:09:20

I mixed fed. Which sounds like the easiest solution but in my case was the hardest, as my supply and their suck reflex never got strong enough to ebf, so each feed was bf, then small bottle with meds in (to make sure they got hte full dose of reflux meds), then extra bottle top-up depending on hunger. So a 3 stage process for each baby, 6 or 7 times a day, all times 2! Oh, and plus pumping when possible (not very often!). And evening feed-a-thons during growth spurts. And using shields. And washing up to 28 bottles a day <weeps at memory>.

So, yes, anything is possible, but there are easy and hard ways of doing it!

On the plus side they each got some bf for around 6 months. But infuriatingly I didn't lose any bloody weight

Nancy54 Thu 20-Sep-12 18:00:40

oh god twelve legged, that does sound like hard work!!

how annoying re weight, i'm hoping it may help to lose some, i have put on sooooooo much!!

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