A couple months ago I posted a “How To” on breastfeeding newborn twins.
It’s been two and a half months since then, so I thought I would post an update about how nursing is going and things I’ve learned along the way.
When I was pregnant with my twins, the things I worried most about were:
-Making enough milk
-Getting them to sleep through the night
-Keeping up supply once they did sleep through the night
I am thankful to have had the experience of nursing twice before I had my twins or I honestly don’t think it would have worked out. Getting the hang of breastfeeding your first baby is hard enough. I can’t imagine having to learn the logistics of nursing with the added complication of twins. Obviously some first time moms are able to do it, but clearly they’re superhuman.
WORRY #1: WILL I MAKE ENOUGH MILK?
In my prior two breastfeeding experiences, I would not say I had an abundance of milk. My first baby was a chunker and I always felt like she wanted more milk than I had for her. My second seemed satisfied but he was a skinny little thing. Naturally, the idea of nursing twins scared me. How could I make enough milk for two when I barely had enough for one? All I can say is, I do. Supply and demand (or more accurately, demand and supply) is an amazing thing. We are four months in and I have managed to make enough milk for both babies. No supplementing, no top off bottles, nothing. Just me and my boobs, feeding those babies.
WORRY #2: WILL I MAKE ENOUGH MILK DURING THE DAY FOR THEM TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT?
Somewhere along the line I think someone just totally made up the idea that breastfed babies sleep through the night later than formula fed babies. Probably some tired and angry breastfeeding mom was looking for some way to explain why she was still up three times a night with her nine month old. If it is true that breastfed babies sleep through the night later than formula fed babies, the only legitimate reason I can think of to explain it is that mothers of formula fed babies are more inclined to push their baby to sleep through the night earlier because mixing bottles at 4am sucks more than rolling out of bed and pulling your shirt up.
The fact is, sleeping through the night is not as simple as “feed your baby more during the day.” It’s true that they need sufficient day time calories to go all night without eating, but getting adequate day time sleep and regular naps also encourages sleeping through. My twins actually slept through the night earlier than my other babies, presumably because they napped much better during the day. Clearly I make enough milk to hold them over through the night.
WORRY #3: ONCE THEY DO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, WILL MY SUPPLY DROP?
Anecdotally I have heard that some moms notice their milk supply dropping when they stop feeding at night, so naturally this was a concern of mine. Would I make enough milk during the day when they are going 11-12 hours at night without feeding? Would I need to pump before I went to bed to keep up supply? (I HATE PUMPING)
I am happy to report that I have had no issues with supply since they started sleeping through. It makes me wonder if perhaps other mother’s complaints of low supply after sleeping through are either misperceptions or paranoia. It seems like in most cases, if your supply did in fact drop when your baby started sleeping through the night, they would start waking up from daytime naps earlier – presumably hungry. This would force you to add extra feedings in throughout the day, effectively increasing your supply.
So to relieve any moms of twins with this same concern, I am not a women blessed with an oversupply, yet I have been able to go over two months now without feeding for 12 hours just fine. I will post in another few months about whether or not this continued.
WORRY #4: WILL I BE ABLE TO TANDEM FEED?
Tandem feeding was pretty easy for me from the beginning, probably because I’ve nursed before. As I said in my earlier post on breastfeeding, I really think tandem feeding makes nursing twins MUCH easier. It’s not just a time saver simply because you’re nursing both at the same time, but also they are able to get more milk quicker because only one of them has to be sucking to spur on a let down. The babies have definitely gotten used to this lazy way of eating because when I try to nurse them separately, they are easily upset by how long it takes for my milk to let down. It takes much longer to nurse them (about double the time PER BABY!) and it still doesn’t seem like they’re getting as much milk. This is why I keep nursing them separately to a minimum – usually 1-2 times per week.
One area of frustration is my inability to nurse easily without my nursing pillow. I have to do it from time to time when I don’t have my pillow with me and every time it is pretty awkward and uncomfortable for all three of us. I am concerned I will need this darn pillow until they’re twelve months old!
When I google image search pictures of women breastfeeding twins to see how they do it, most are either using a nursing pillow or breastfeeding older babies (or 4 year olds, which always raises an eyebrow).
Which, speaking of nursing 4 year olds, my plan had been (my plan is?) to nurse them until at least 18 months because I’m using it as a method of birth control. I don’t get my period back until I stop nursing (go on, HATE ME) so I am inclined to nurse these ones for longer than my others. But sometimes I see pictures of women nursing two toddlers at once and, frankly, it weirds me out. So… we will see.
I hope that sometime in the next month or two I am able to find a comfortable way of nursing them together without the use of a pillow.
It appears as though my biggest concerns with breastfeeding twins were completely unfounded (per the usual). Sometimes I am in awe of how the female body is able to fully support the nutritional needs of a baby outside the womb, much less two babies. I am so blessed to be able to experience this!
Of course, sometimes I also feel like a dairy cow. My udders are certainly just as saggy. Wah-Wahhhhh.