Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Time to Eat...Again!

This past week was World Breastfeeding Week. So, in honor of this past week, I thought I'd share with you some of my "feeding babies" experiences.

First off, I in no way shed any judgement towards any mom for how they choose to feed their baby (babies)...or with what. I believe it is a personal decision and only you know what is best for you, your baby and your family.

With that said, here is my story...

Before my girls were born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I may have had high expectations for myself (at least that is what I was told by many, and I told myself), but I was determined I would succeed. I've known others with twins that struggled, and others that have succeeded. I've had several friends that struggled to feed just one baby, but for some reason, these stories just made me more determined to breastfeed my twins. Maybe having no other children prior made me a bit naive to the whole experience...perhaps a good thing!

First off, I know that breast milk is best, but I also know that it is a whole lot cheaper than formula. And with twins, we can use all the financial help we can get.

When my girls were born, I began tandem nursing them right away. I knew I didn't want to nurse one after the other because that would mean I would just be feeding babies all the time. I was able to tandem feed them thanks to my handy dandy My Brest Friend Twins Plus nursing pillow...a big thanks to my mother-in-law for this gift!

At first, things were going well. They girls latched on okay, and were eating every 2 1/2 hours or so. After a couple of days (we were still in the hospital), I started feeling concerned that my girls were not getting enough (my milk hadn't come in yet), and were still hungry. The nurses (despite their surprise that I wanted to breastfeed twins), encouraged me and told me the girls were fine.

Two and a half days after the girls were born, they became jaundiced and we discovered that their weight had dropped more than normal. At this point, they told me that I would have to begin giving the girls formula. I was devastated and upset. I didn't want to give them bottles yet...and definitely not formula! I wasn't going to give up though, so I nursed the girls first, then gave them their bottles of formula provided by the hospital.

Here is a picture of Esme with her biliblanket for her jaundice...

And sweet little Ellerie...

Here is a picture of my feeding log in the hospital...

It took me asking every day to meet with lactation to finally get a good consultant that got me on a plan...aiming for 100% breast milk fed babies. When I came home from the hospital, this is what our schedule looked like...

Every 2 1/2-3 hours (around the clock...
1)Breastfeed babies for 25-30 minutes.
2)Feed babies 2oz of formula (or pumped breast milk) from bottles
3)Pump 15-20 minutes.

This routine took about 1 hour 15 minutes. We became more efficient as time went on, and I think we got it down to an hour. This didn't give us much down time between feedings, and it sure didn't give us much time to sleep. I would often just lay awake at night, staring at the clock until the next feeding (unless, of course, Ellerie was in one of her screaming colic rages).

Looking back, I'm not sure how I/we survived! At my lactation visits (I went at least a couple times a month at first), the consultants were surprised I was still nursing. "Determination" was what I told them. All the extra calories and water I consume makes a world of difference too!

Fortunately, we only had to supplement the girls with formula for 1 week. After that, their bottle supplement was all breast milk. I'm just grateful that I am someone who was able to produce enough milk. In fact, within a month, I was making an over abundance...probably enough to feed triplets. And because of that, we have a nice freezer stash for a time when I may not be able to keep up with their growing needs. I was also able to stop supplementing with bottles after every feeding at that time.

The girls are now 5 months old and they both nurse well (most days)...and take a bottle well (grateful for that too). My original goal was 6 months, but now that I am almost there, I can't imagine stopping. It's just getting easier! I'm just barely making enough milk now, but we haven't had to dig into that freezer stash quite yet. Soon the girls will be getting solids too!

At this point, I'm just going to nurse as long as I can...as long as I'm still maintaining my sanity! It's been an incredibly challenging experience and one I am proud of myself for overcoming and accomplishing! There were many times I screamed, "I want to quit!" Also, in the beginning, I didn't experience the "bonding" that everyone always talks about with nursing. I found that I bonded more in other ways...that didn't result in pain and frustration! It took awhile, but I enjoy it now and often see it as my exclusive bonding time with the girls...most of the time.

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