Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.

Last week we had Trips with a Tot guest post for us for The Baby Feeding Series to talk about her experiences and this week we have a lovely Anna from Popitha who has kindly written a post for us to tell us about breastfeeding her twins with a twist. So with that, I shall hand you over to the lovely Anna. 
Breastfeeding Twins with a twist - A twist that is OK!

I’d always planned to breastfeed. For as long as I could remember, it was something I felt I wanted to do. I couldn’t wait to feel that special bond, the closeness I would feel between mother and baby when breastfeeding….then I got the news: you’re having twins.  Most woman are overcome with lots of different emotions when they find out that they are expecting twins and I wasn't any different. Any pregnancy is a time of excitement and joy, but there will also be moments of doubt.

Was breastfeeding still possible? Had I changed my mind? The answers are yes it is still possible and no, I hadn’t changed my mind, I wanted to give it a go. I knew breastfeeding was so important for vulnerable babies and it would save time and a lot of money. However, I promised myself that if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t get stressed about it.

A lot was going through my mind and I wondered whether I would produce enough milk for two. I doubted that it was possible. However, I learnt the basic rule about milk production is supply = demand. This is a short way of saying that the more often a baby feeds at your breast and removes milk (demand), the more milk is made (supply). This is why mothers of multiples are able to make enough milk for their babies. Knowing this helped me cope, especially on bad days when the girls were being extra fussy or hungry and I felt like I couldn't possibly have enough milk for them.

The twins, were born six weeks prematurely. I had a fairly tough time throughout their birth with Twin One coming out naturally and Twin Two by emergency c-section. The babies went straight into intensive care and twenty-one hours later, after two blood transfusions, I expressed for the first of many times. It wasn’t an option to breastfeed initially as they were fed through a tube. What was possible, was for me to express and give the girls my milk which I did. I remember feeling disappointed and upset and begin to doubt whether you will be able to breastfeed your babies at all. I was reassured that I would be able to eventually and it was important to establish and maintain your milk supply until your babies can feed from your breasts.

After 5 days in hospital, the girls started showing signs of wanting to breastfeed. I felt so overwhelmed by this and I was desperate for that bond I was missing out on. I do think I missed out on that closeness which, looking back could have potentially caused a bigger issue further on and I can completely understand why postnatal depression is higher in mother's who's children spend time in NICU. From then on, I fed the girls twice a day whilst in hospital.

I was discharged after six days, leaving my babies in NICU for a further 10 and began making a 'milk run', expressing five times daily for 15 minutes on each side and obtaining 1400ml daily. After 16 long days in NICU we all discharged from the hospital as a family. The girls were doing incredibly well, good weights and on 4 hourly feed which was a godsend as a routine was already established. I reserved one breast for each baby and it was interesting to notice how the amount of milk varied in each breast according to their appetites. I fed them separately as their feeding patterns differed, and I felt it was good for them to be independent at least for feed times. I occasionally fed them together.

It took various attempts to work out what to do with Twin two, whilst Twin one was being fed and vice versa. I worked out that it was best to stay low to the ground! I put a blanket on the floor, put the baby I wasn’t feeding on the blanket, and sat with my back against the couch to feed. Then the other baby can look around without any worry she may fall. I also invested in baby beanbags which we took everywhere and the girls laid on these too.

After a week at home breastfeeding two babies, things started to change. I started to feel differently. I started to get sore, really sore. I wasn’t enjoying it and I certainly lost the desire to have my babies close. They were hurting me. Of course I would continue to feed them, that was my duty, I loved them and I wanted to do my best for them. But the more I breastfed, the more I considered the bottle – milk bottle! My boobs were never getting a break as they were both being used at the same time – my toes were curling with the pain. I was told about this and to work through it however I reminded myself of my promise – if this didn’t work, its ok. This didn’t make it any easier those, there was a guilt inside me that I wasn’t expecting. It was one that really tugged at those heart strings to try and make you feel bad. But the longer it went on, the surer I was.

At 4 weeks old, I stopped breastfeeding my twins and started using the bottle. This was the best thing for me, for us; The best thing that bonded me with my babies. I felt closer now than I ever had. A lot of people successfully breastfeed twins but it just wasn’t for me. Still today, at 22 months, I love sitting down with my girls on the bed at 7am snuggling with them and their bottle – this is our special time.
Someone once said to me…Be good to yourself! Be patient and kind to yourself (and your babies) and give yourself time to figure out how to make feeding work for you and your newly expanded family.

About Anna

Anna, is a thirty something twin mummy to my 21 month old gorgeous twin girls, Tabitha and Poppy. Whom despite having a watertight plan, entered the world by two different modes of transport Anna lives with her doting husband Tristan and little dog Flicka in the Essex countryside. It’s taken Anna until now to find her feet with her blog and she can now really reflect on times past; give real advice, but also create a lasting virtual memory box of keep sakes for the girls.

You can find Anna over at Popitha
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