In the fourth of our Feeding Friday series, be amazed by Charlie- mother of twins! It’s challenging enough being a first time mother of one baby, never mind 2 at once. Read how she navigated this tricky feeding journey with confidence, she’s an inspiration…
I really wanted to breast feed. I believed it was best for the twins and in a way easier for mum (as well as cheaper!) my Mum breastfed all three of her children for 6 months so that was my goal.
I was so lucky. Both boys took to breastfeeding straight away. I was told I had ‘the right boobs’ by one of the midwives! Haha. Sadly, Rupert went into special care 3 hours after I first breastfed him and so was put onto tube feeding. I had to decide if I wanted him to be fed formula or wait for my milk to come in. His blood sugar was low, so I expressed some colostrum for him but agreed to let him have formula. Couldn’t stand the idea of him being hungry and without his mummy 🙁 Sid, however, established feeding with me very well.
It was so hard expressing milk for Roo whilst trying to breastfeed Sid too. I was constantly attached to pump or baby. After 7 days in special care I brought Rupert home and had resigned myself to the fact that he wouldn’t take to breastfeeding as it had been too long and he was taking a bottle by that point. This was doubly sad as I didn’t feel I could breastfeed Sidney and not Rupert so was thinking I’d have to stop. I tried one last time with Roo and he took to the boob straight away. It was a pretty magical moment considering he hadn’t breastfed since minutes after he was born.
I found, in the first few weeks, I was feeding each boy at least every hour and a half on opposite schedules. It was beyond tough. I was constantly feeding, and unlike with one baby, I couldn’t offer both breasts so three weeks in I started to use formula top ups with a bottle. This also meant that Sam/ my mum could feed too. It was a great relief. It was then that we decided to bottle feed expressed milk during the night so Sam and I could tag team. Before that point I was existing on 45 mins sleep a night and pretty much spent all my time crying with exhaustion.
To be honest I didn’t really reach out for help. I didn’t want to be told that I shouldn’t use formula as my milk would dry up etc (it didn’t and I breastfed for 5 and a half months in total with formula top ups!) I was annoyed with myself for not being able to EBF my boys so I just did what suited me. At that point I just had to make it through each day.
I really didn’t want to use formula but looking back I’m so glad I did. I’m also really glad I didn’t give up on breastfeeding all together. Nobody else in my twin group attempted to breastfeed (fair enough) but my twins were the only ones that didn’t end up having to go back to hospital with various issues. This could be just coincidence or luck, but I think breastfeeding of any kind or any amount, even if it’s just a few days, does help build immunity.
I 100 per cent would combination feed again. It didn’t affect my milk supply really and by 8 weeks I was breastfeeding in the day and formula feeding at night. It makes life much easier with all the benefits of breastfeeding and means you can leave the baby- I needed to do that for my own sanity. I never had any problems with nipple confusion and found the actual act of breastfeeding relatively easy. I just needed more milk.
I felt so guilty about giving up when I did, but hey, 5 months of whacking both boobs out in public was taking its toll (there is no modest way to do that!) I wish there wasn’t so much guilt associated with it. It’s a beautiful thing to do but there are so many variables in this game and if it doesn’t happen for you, then formula is an excellent alternative. I’m really pleased I took the pressure off myself and allowed myself to be more relaxed (and in turn I think the boys were happier). Happy Mum, happy baby is all that really matters. I wish somebody had also told me about the dangers of EBF feeding a baby when you haven’t got enough milk. Sometimes midwives are so pushy they don’t spot that milk supply is low. I would really recommend pumping straight away to be sure milk is actually there. I read a story about a woman who BF a baby that didn’t actually feed for 4 days as she had no milk but didn’t know. Heartbreaking.
(Note from Keri- what you can pump is not always a good indicator of what baby is getting- consider baby’s output, ie, wet and dirty nappies, and weight gain, if you have any concerns at all please seek medical advice from your midwife, health visitor, GP, breastfeeding peer supporter or counsellor, or lactation consultant.)
So in summary, I would say, go with your heart, look after mum (who is often forgotten in all this ‘baby needs..’ Stuff in books). Think, what about me? Am I happy? Am I surviving? If the answer is no, then chances are baby isn’t happy too so formula can be an excellent way of remedying this. if you need to do both breastfeeding and formula, don’t be put off by the horror stories about not being able to. In my opinion, it is perfectly possible and a great way to continue to breastfeed and give your baby the benefits, as well as allowing mum some much needed space and freedom.