You can do it.
The overwhelming sentiment is that women cannot exclusively breastfeed their twins, or that in order to do so, they require the use of expensive equipment and rigorous pumping schedules. The idea that a woman might go a full year without pumping, without supplementing with formula, and without bottle feeding at all is not presented as a likely scenario – or at least it never felt that way to me. Twin forums, twin books, hospital lactation consultants, and delivery nurses all made me feel from the very beginning that exclusively breastfeeding my twins was an unrealistic expectation.
The babes’ pediatrician told me I was one of only two twin moms he’s had in the last five years that successfully breastfed her twins. I have to wonder if perhaps the very fact that he tells women this contributes to their lack of success. What an unhelpful comment to a woman struggling to breastfeed. Of course no one is succeeding – they are being discouraged from every angle!
Now don’t you go getting your panties in a wad. I am not saying that I think every twin mom should breastfeed. Every situation is different, every story is different. It’s just like with birth: the good old fashioned way is great when it works, but thank goodness for c-sections because sometimes it just doesn’t. Breastfeeding is also great when possible, but praise God for formula because sometimes it doesn’t. There are a multitude of factors that could influence someone’s ability to successfully breastfeed – and not all of them are just physical. Clearly the breast is not always best.
What I am saying is that I do believe most mothers who want to breastfeed their twins badly enough can, and that I think the whole thing would go a lot better if we’d stop making the assumption that it’s impossible and instead actually encourage mothers to try! Yes it will be hard. Breastfeeding just one baby is hard! Yes you will have to work through some things. Yes you will want to quit sometimes. But it’s possible. So possible.
And here is my advice, intended to encourage the pregnant mom who wants to breastfeed her twins:
DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT IT CAN’T BE DONE.
That’s ridiculous. Women have been successfully breastfeeding twins since the bible times! Just because most women don’t do it doesn’t mean most women can’t do it or that you can’t do it.
MAKE A FIRM DECISION TO BREASTFEED.
Decide you’re going to do it. Back to my birth analogy, it seems to me that those who go in with a “wait and see” approach to medication nearly always end up getting an epidural. Women who successfully birth babies without medication go into it absolutely committed to birthing babies without medication. I have never committed my mind to a natural birth and consequently I’ve never had a natural birth (nevermind that I don’t actually care about having one). It is the same with breastfeeding. The “wait and see” approach consistently fails. Go into it with a real mental commitment to breastfeeding and your chances of success are exponentially higher.
TRUST YOUR BODY.
Especially for those who naturally conceived twins, your body was meant to and able to carry and sustain twins within the womb. Why should it be any different once they’re on the outside? Obviously there is a point where you might decide things are not going to plan and continuing to exclusively breastfeed is not what’s best for you or for the babies, but before you jump ship, give your body a chance to do it’s thang.
I had a rough couple weeks around the four month mark where the babes weren’t gaining weight as the doctor thought they should be and I questioned my ability to make enough milk. Keeping in mind my commitment to breastfeeding and my decision to trust my body, I made some adjustments to the nursing schedule and forged ahead. My milk rebounded, the babes gained weight, and my intuition proved true: this body was made to carry twins. This body is capable of breastfeeding those twins.
My hope is that this advice is a source of hope and reassurance to moms who want to breastfeed, not a discouragement to those who aren’t able to do so. I’m not a nursing nazi or a card carrying member of La Leche League. I don’t even know that I really love nursing. I have no stake whatsoever in whether or not other women choose to breastfeed. My only aim is to dispel the myth that twin moms cannot exclusively breastfeed and to instill confidence in those mamas who want to.
You can do it.
You can do it.
YOU CAN DO IT.
Check out my other posts about breastfeeding twins below.