Part 2 of our 2-part series on breastfeeding twins.
Holy cow! I wrote this 4 months into my twin mom journey and what an adventure it has been! I breastfed my first son nearly two years with minimal issues, and that experience led me to become a Certified Lactation Counselor. But no amount of experience or education could have fully prepared me for nursing multiples; the success, the struggles, the emotions through every step. Although nothing could have prepared me for this experience I have learned several things that I would love to pass on to you! It is OKAY to ask for help, and accept it!
Whether you are adding one child to your family or four, if someone is offering to help, TAKE THEM UP ON IT! For real, take them up on the offer to come over and help you out! Some examples are bringing you dinner and sitting with the babies while you take a warm shower to relieve some engorgement in those early days, or someone coming over to throw a load of laundry in then come sit and hold one baby while you feed the other and trade off. If they are offering to help, they mean it and with multiples, you will need it! It is okay to accept help!
Every Baby Is Different.
Photo courtesy of Danielle Segui Photography
So, for some reason I was under the assumption that these babies would come and both latch immediately with ease. But that was not the case. X was the first baby born and we only got about 10 minutes of skin to skin before active labor kicked in again and an hour later A was born. Because X only got 10 minutes of skin to skin he had only begun to suckle but did not get a latch in his first hour of life, that made it challenging for the first couple of days. He did not latch for the first 8 hours of his life, I had to hand express every bit of colostrum I could into his mouth or into a cup. When he did latch, he did not open his mouth wide enough to get a proper latch so I had a lot of pain and tears with him the first few weeks. Luckily, I asked a couple of lactation counselor friends for help (see, ask for help! It is worth it!). They supported me through my struggles, and I also saw an IBCLC, who referred me to a pediatric dentist to diagnose and treat tongue ties. A had her difficulties getting a deep latch due to her tongue tie but not nearly as much trouble as X had. With my first baby I didn't have any of these issues so this was all new. I know we have all heard that every baby is different, but it did not fully register until I was troubleshooting two babies with separate nursing issues, at the same time!
Finding Support Is KEY!
No matter what your breastfeeding goals may be finding a supportive community is one of the major keys to your success. Talk to your friends and family about your goals before you have your babies. Find other moms who have breastfeed multiples for peer support. Make a list of lactation resources in your area, in case you need help from a professional. I found confidence in my body to feed my twins after finding a couple of peer mentors in my local area and joining several breastfeeding support pages for mothers of multiples. Hearing about others' success helped me see that I could achieve my goal to breastfeed twins.
Go With The Flow!
I will confess, I am not a "go with the flow" kind of person. I am a "make a plan" kind of person. However, from the moment I held both of my new babies for the first time I realized that my plans may not go exactly as I wrote them out. I altered my breastfeeding plan to one day at a time, so far I have achieved my breastfeeding goal 131 times (but who's counting?). Every day I wake up and my breastfeeding goal is to make it successful through that day. I'm not saying you have to set your goals one day at a time but please realize that every day is a miracle.
We have made it through a delayed latch, oversupply, overactive letdown, clogged ducts, mastitis, tongue ties, and revisions. We've also made it through marathon tandem nursing days and nights and tears and giggles. My heart is so overwhelmed when I think about how far we've come in these last four months thanks to the help and support of some great lactation professionals and my friends and family.
Eva Hodgdon is a doula, CLC, and Education Director for Mom2Mom KMC. Being the mother of three children has lead Eva to her passion and profession. She owns a small business that offers lactation counseling, doula and placenta encapsulation services, living her passion for supporting women and their growing families through every step of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Eva has been a member of the volunteer leadership team at Mom2Mom KMC since arriving in Germany in February 2015.