By: Jennifer Pearce
When we found out that we were expecting our first child, my husband I and started reading everything we could on how to care for a child. During this research, I made the decision to nurse our baby for at least the first year. Then during our first ultrasound this decision was challenged when the technician told us that we were having TWINS!
After the initial shock wore off, I started reading everything I could find on caring for twins. Most books discussed the different options for feeding twins, and the advantages and disadvantages for each. After this round of research, I was still adamant on exclusively nursing our identical twin girls. Even after everyone told me I was crazy to think I’d be able to breastfeed twins, I was even more determined.
Our girls were born at 36 week and I developed pre-eclampsia, bringing on more challenges for my breastfeeding plans. For the first 24 hours post delivery I was in intensive care, and unable to see our little ladies. Since the girls were premature, and I was unable to breastfeed them or pump for the first 24 hours, they were put on formula and fed through a nasal tube, I of course was mortified. I had read so much on how the first hours were so important for successful breastfeeding, so I was afraid the window of opportunity was gone.
After the initial 24 hours were over, I was able to see our girls and start pumping. And did I ever pump! For the first two weeks of the girl’s life I pumped every 3 hours, and nursed them with a lactaid (a container that holds expressed milk with a tube connecting the container to the nipple where baby can easily suckle the tube and breast at the same time).
The muscles in our girl’s mouths weren’t fully developed since they were premature, so they were also having difficulties latching. We saw a lactation consultant every day, and tried many methods to get them to hold a latch. Finally we tried a nipple shield (a nipple-shaped sheath worn over the areola and nipple during breastfeeding), and the girls were finally able to successfully breast feed and come home from the hospital.
I had decided that I needed to nurse both girls at the same time if we ever wanted to leave the house again. So, we purchased a twin nursing pillow, the best purchase of our lives! Yes, it is massive, and a pain to travel with, but it certainly made my breastfeeding plans a success.
I have exclusively breast fed our girls for 12 months now, there have been many ups and downs along the way. From mastitis, thrush, growth spurts, and bites I have often thought of switching to formula, but then I remind myself of the health and emotional benefits our girls are getting from nursing and it makes all the bumps along the way well worth it.