When I was pregnant I really appreciated reading any advice I could find on breast feeding twins. I didn't know if breast feeding was going to work out for me. I know it can be challenging with one baby, so I wasn't too optimistic that it would be all easy-peasy with two (and never mind the four other children). In fact I think my biggest fear during the pregnancy, aside from the health concerns we had, was that breast feeding would be a train wreck and that I would have a hard time dealing with that emotionally. I think for those of us who have dealt with infertility it can be extra painful when breast feeding just doesn't go well.
But, as is often the case, my fears were unfounded. Breast feeding went off without hitch. As is often the case with our bodies, I know that much of the reason it has gone so well has nothing to do with me; my body just did what it was supposed to this time. Who knows why sometimes it works out that way and sometimes it doesn't. But I thought I would share my experience for those interested.
Having the right medical care. Our babies were born a month early by c-section. They weighed 5lbs and 3lbs and they needed a fair amount of medical care. I didn't get to hold them until about 8 hours after the surgery and I didn't get to breast feed them until about 20 hours later. So I pumped every two hours until then.
I had to nurse the babies in the nursery; they couldn't be unhooked from their machines to be taken to my room. That meant I had A LOT of help from the nurses. One nurse suggested using a nipple shield after our 3 pounder was having a hard time latching, so right from the start I used the shield and I think that saved me from a lot of pain and discomfort.
Those first couple days were pretty crazy since I had to go to the nursery to see or nurse the babies. At one point about three babies had just been born so there was a lot of people in this small nursery, including 3 new dads (so not medical staff, just some random dudes) and there I am trying to nurse a 3 pound baby for like, the second time in my life. At one point i just threw a blanket over my head to get a little privacy. The nurses all felt bad for me and told the pediatrician that he had to allow the babies (and their machines) to be wheeled into my room for future feedings. I am sure there are some nurses that would have said to me "why not just give them a bottle, this is too difficult." Instead my nurses advocated for me to the doctor without me even asking them to. And on my third night at the hospital (second day of nursing) the night nurse grabbed my twin nursing pillow and said "why don't you nurse them at the same time?" I was barely awake and a little reluctant, but she just went right ahead and put the pillow around me and plopped the babies down and all the sudden I was nursing them at the same time (which has been almost exclusively how I do it). So the fact that I had such a supportive nursing staff was a huge factor in making breast feeding possible and even easy for me.
Nipple shields. I already mentioned them, but I don't think I would have been successful breast feeding without them. They made it possible for the babies to latch, and I think they also saved me on a lot of discomfort. We used them up until the babies were about 6 weeks. I weaned them by trying to remove the shield every couple days mid way through the feeding starting at three weeks. At one point I thought they would never get the hang of it without the shield, but they did. Thomas caught on little quicker, but Agustin wasn't far behind.
Nursing at the same time has allowed me to actually do other things during the day, like eat and use the bathroom and feed my other children. We are getting to a point now that they are bigger that I usually get to nurse them each separately once a day, but that is a pretty recent development.
The other kids. That first month my husband was mostly off work. I don't know what I would have done without him. The babies couldn't have been born at a better time if we planned it. He had his abbreviated summer schedule (he is a Catholic school principal) during those difficult last 6 weeks of pregnancy and then a month off after their birth. After that month was over I made sure to have a contained toddler-safe space where I could put our 1 and 2 year old. So if the toddlers are not sleeping or eating when I need to nurse the babies, and no one else is home to entertain them or, more importantly prevent them from destroying the house or themselves, I put them in the boys room and they play. This usually happens about once a day.
Fenugreek. At 2 months I started taking Fenugreek because the babies weren't gaining as fast we'd like. My supply really needed coddling. I had to eat a crazy amount and couldn't exercise, or else my supply would take a hit. Taking fenugreek has absolutely helped out. I am still not exercising, but I can eat a normal amount of food and not see my supply drop. The babies are definitely more content when I am keeping up with the fenugreek.
Don't leave the house, ever. Haha, just kidding, sort of. Our pediatrician advised us to keep the babies at home for their first 3 months to minimize their chances of getting sick, and we did. But we still don't get out a whole lot. I have 2 toddlers and two babies at home with me in the mornings; we don't go grocery shopping or anything like that. We do go pick up their brother at 11 from pre-k, but even then we don't get out of the car. His dad walks him out for me. Fortunately, this goes fine with my severely introverted temparment.
The intercession of our Lady. This one is big, and I attribute all of the little and big things that fell into place to Mary, our mother, who had the privelege of nursing our God and King. Throughout my pregnancy I asked our Lady, Mother of Mothers, to pray for me. This petition was seasoned with a sadness, because it was intertwined with grief. In February of last year my grandpa died, suddenly and sadly, and the last time I saw him in this life was when he and my grandma brought this little book to me:
And it has been a grace and a gift.