Breastfeeding. The most natural thing in the world.
Breastfeeding twins? The most hardcore form of breastfeeding. Ever.
When I used to fantasise about motherhood, back before it became a vomit/washing/screaming/feeding merry-go-round reality, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about how I was absolutely going to breastfeed. No matter what.
It was going to be beautiful. It was going to be wonderful. I’d spend days nursing on a sofa, wearing my pyjamas with a sleepy baby on my boob, watching the whole of Mad Men/Girls/House of Cards. Occasionally patting my baby on the back and then just waiting for them to let me know when they were hungry again.
But then I found out I was expecting twins and breastfeeding became a whole other ball game.
Could I breastfeed twins?
Would I have enough milk?
How could I feed them at the same time?
Would I ever get a break?
The fantasy came crashing down as I worried that breastfeeding twins on demand would likely involve a rapid loss of sanity, red raw nipples and a relentless on-call schedule that would double up quite nicely as a form of torture.
Breastfeeding one baby is demanding. Breastfeeding two? That’s something altogether different.
However, any expectant twin mummas-to-be, don’t worry, YES, it is possible to breastfeed twins, and there are women that do succeed, and I’m in total awe of these absolute warriors. If breastfeeding were a martial art, twin breastfeeders would definitely be black belts.
As for me, I express most of my milk and breastfeed once or twice a day, sadly only for a matter of minutes before the bubs demand their meal via a fast flow teat. I mix feed too, which means my babies have on average a maximum of one or two formula feeds a day.
For me, breastfeeding just didn’t happen like it was supposed to. And I feel guilty about it. It’s probably my fault that I haven’t had the experience I wanted, as I thought nipple confusion was a myth, but my babies are still getting my milk and for that I do cut myself some slack.
However you end up feeding your twins, breast or bottle, feeding twins has Challenges. Note the capital C.
Here’s what I’ve learnt so far.
1.You HAVE to feed them at the same time
Good luck to those that let their twins’ individuality extend to having individual feeding times. If you cannot feed them at the same time, or at least one after the other, you will spend your days doing nothing but feeding.
2. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding twins is PAINFUL
No matter what position you try to contort yourself into, almost all feeding positions involve hunching and an unnatural slouch that means you have a constant burning sensation between your shoulder blades.
3. You will experiment with all kinds of positions
You haven’t been this creative with positions since you discovered the kama sutra. One laid across your lap, the other propped on a cushion, the double rugby hold while breastfeeding, one on the boob and one on your lap with a bottle, both babies in their car seats while your extended arms slowly burn… the options are infinite.
4. You will fear moving after feeding your twins
You know that once their appetite is sated, you will have to move your lower back. And it will be stiff. And it will hurt.
5. The twins will not make things easy for you
There will be one vomiting up their feed all over themselves while the other one fusses as soon as you move the bottle to deal with their sibling. Tip: Have (100) dummies available to stopper up any crying while you sort out each twin.
6. Tandem breastfeeding requires help
You’re in position. Cushions underneath you, behind your back, on your lap and behind your head. Now all you need is an assistant to pass you each baby and be on call to rearrange them every few minutes when they lose their latch.
7. Feeding twins takes an eternity
There’s no twin mum on earth that has ever uttered the phrase “I’ll just give the twins a quick feed,” because speed and twins and eating just don’t go together. Feeds can take literally hours.
8. It’s almost endless
In those early days? There is no time other than feeding time. Feeding is a constant. Stock up on the nipple cream and emergency formula bottles for when you need a well-earned break.
9. You will write everything down
I spent weeks writing down every feed time and how much each baby had taken. It became ritualistic until sleep deprivation meant I just started guessing and forgetting and eventually the feed times spaced out to every three hours, then every three or four. Throwing out the feed time book is a HUGE milestone for any multiple mum.
10. You will be jealous of mums who breastfeed their singletons
Breastfeeding twins is inately stressful. Knowing your other baby can interrupt your bonding/feeding time at any moment means it’s never the relaxing one-to-one time you imagined because having twins isn’t a one-to-one situation. It’s two to one. Mumma, you’re outnumbered.
11. It’s a huge achievement
Seeing the bubs grow from your dedicated feeding, whether breast or bottle, is the best feeling. Success is on the scales.