Day Four | Tara's Journey | Adventures in Breastfeeding Twins
Tara welcomed her beautiful set of twins 8 weeks early, and while her journey hasn’t gone as planned – she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
What made you want to breastfeed?
I knew even before I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. I loved the idea of the bond I would create with my babies with breastfeeding. I also had done my research on how good breastmilk was for my babies. After my babies were born premature I knew it was something I had to do for them, I wanted to give them all of the benefits of my milk.
What do you love about breastfeeding?
I love the bond I have with my babies. I am the only person that can have that connection with them. I love when I get home after a day at work that they are looking forward to nursing and that time just as much as I am. I have other people tell me how content my babies look after I get home and am able to nurse them.
Has something happened in your breastfeeding journey that you were not expecting?
I went into the hospital at 30 weeks pregnant with preeclampsia. I was able to go home after a couple of days but was readmitted just a day later and stayed until my babies were born.
I felt so unprepared for breastfeeding as I wasn't expecting to be in the hospital that early. I wasn't able to go to the breastfeeding classes that I had signed up for. I asked my nurses for help and the lactation consultants brought me some information. My babies were born at 32 weeks and 5 days via C-section.
I grieved never being able to even labor on my own and was stressed with my babies in the NICU. The first couple days after delivery were a blur because of all the medication I was on at the time. But I remember just hours after delivery my nurse had me hooked up to the pump. I'm still not sure if I had asked her about this or if she had just done it. But from that point on I pumped for 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours.
My babies were in the NICU for 6 weeks and I was still pumping after they came home for several weeks. The NICU nurses were great with helping me attempt to breastfeed my babies. At 34 weeks gestation they allowed me to put babies to dry breast after I had pumped to get them used to the breast. And by 36 weeks I was able to attempt to breastfeed both babies. They both latched after several tries and with nipple shield because they were so small. We did pre and post weights with each feed and the babies slowly got stronger and were getting more.
The one thing that went well from the beginning was the amount of milk I was able to pump. My babies got donor milk for a couple days after birth but then were able to have all of my milk fortified for extra calories. I was also able to create a freezer stash while they were so little and not taking as much milk.
How did you overcome this surprise?
After arriving home from the NICU I was breastfeeding only 2-3 times a day and some days were just so hard I didn't attempt to breastfeed at all. I was triple feeding, (breast, then top off with bottle and then pump again). It was exhausting and after my husband returned to work seemed impossible. But slowly I could tell they were getting more and more from me as they got bigger and stronger. I started to eliminate bottle feeds slowly. One of the biggest things that really helped was being able to wean off of the nipple shields. My daughter would have more milk running all over the place then she was actually getting with the shield. And once I was able to get rid of the shield she was able to take so much more from me.
I set up an appointment with an LC (lactation consultant) to check latches and to do a weighted feed for my sanity. At that point they were only getting 1 bottle a day in the middle of the night. After meeting with the LC I felt comfortable enough to get rid of the bottles completely and they were EBF (exclusively breastfed) except for when I was at work or had to be away from them for a few hours.
I never would have made it through those early months without my husband’s support. On the really tough days I would cry out of frustration. I even said at one point I would just be an exclusive pumper. He kept encouraging me to stick with it because he knew how much it really meant to me. I also called my friend and my sister in law almost daily with so many questions. And joined several breastfeeding support groups on FB (facebook) which I still read daily.
Did you feel prepared for breastfeeding before you had your babies?
I don't think I was really prepared at all. I was one of those people who thought it wouldn't be that hard, it's natural after all. But I was so wrong. Breastfeeding has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.
What do you wish you knew before you started breastfeeding?
I wish I would have been more prepared for all of the obstacles I would face. From exclusively pumping to clogged ducts and milk blisters to now having to supplement with a pumped bottle every day because I'm not quite keeping up. Staying up late or waking up to pump to make up for the bottle I'm giving them every night. But I still wouldn't trade it for anything even if I would have known all of these things.
How has it been different feeding twins?
The twins are my first babies so I don't have much to compare it to. But the number one question I get is how do you feed 2 babies at once? So many people are amazed by tandem feeding. Tandem feeding is the only way I have saved my sanity. It's the only way I don't feel like I have a baby attached to me at all times of the day. I also love watching my babies hold hands or rub each other’s’ faces while they are tandem eating. It is awesome not only sharing that bond between myself and my babies but also watching the bond they have with each other.
How did you come up with any kind of schedule?
When my babies were really little our schedule was more consistent with feeding every couple of hours. Once they were able to drain me and I didn't have to pump and bottle feed as well our schedule changed again. Now they both nurse on demand. And for the most part want to eat at the same time. We have some consistency with nursing right when they wake up and before morning nap and then nursing to sleep at night. But between those times they nurse whenever they want to.
What advice do you have for other moms?
Some of the best advice I have heard from others is don't quit on a bad day. Don't ever make the decision to be done breastfeeding when you're having a terrible day. There were days early on that I would feel so frustrated with breastfeeding that I would just pump and do bottles the rest of the day and start over fresh the next day.
How did having multiples change some of your plans? Feel free to comment below with love and support or even part of your own story. If you would like to share your story along with all of the beautiful ladies on the blog please send me a message. I would be happy to document your story both in words and in pictures.